July 22, 2018

It’s Starting to Be a Thing

Does your lawn mower have a name? Mine does. The machine is a Cub Cadet so I stuck him with the very original name of Cubby.

(For the record, I’m in the habit of giving inanimate objects names. We have a tractor named Hazel and a Truck named Phyllis.)

Cubby and I have a unique partnership. I drive him around taming acres of grass on our little homestead, and he challenges me to learn new skills… like lawn mower repair. He’s cool like that.

A few weeks ago, he alerted me it was time for another lesson by making a noise I hadn’t heard before. A weird, whining vibration came from somewhere below my seat and Cubby crawled to a stop, engine still running, but no longer moving forward. Searching for the cause, I found remnants of a shredded belt and under the battery a little plastic fan that had been torn from its mount.

Pushing Cubby back to the garage, I scolded him for the timing of this particular repair lesson. I had a long list of things to do and he really wasn’t helping matters. A little advance warning to clear my schedule would have been nice! He ignored me, as usual. It was lesson time, and that was that.

Now, each lesson begins with learning the names of parts. Peering through the narrow gaps, I did my best to identify the original placement of the broken bits, then went to the internet to search out a parts diagram. Armed with the names of what was needed, I rang up the local repair shop.

“I need a 72” drive belt and new hydrostatic transmission fan for a Cub Cadet LTX 1046M. Do you have them in stock?
I internally patted myself on the back for sounding so nonchalant about the whole thing. I knew this repair was a step up from the last one I’d tackled, and I was slightly concerned I was out of my depth. I would have to call in backup.

Once I had the parts, I grabbed my favorite muscle man, and we headed out to see Cubby. I was glad my hubby had agreed to help me with this repair. The guys in the how-to videos I watched used an impact wrench to remove the tightened nuts and I was fairly certain, even with an extender bar, I would need Matt’s strength to get them to move. Plus, he’s really cute. So, there’s that.

It took a bit of doing to get Cubby on the lift, but once he was up, I crawled underneath and began taking things apart to get them out of the way. The clutch was easy-peasy, but the fan mount gave me a couple new bruises. Between my straining one way, and Matt tugging the other we had the old parts removed and the new ones attached in very short order. I knew we could do it. Long ago, I learned my man and I make a great work team, and there is something wonderfully satisfying about laboring alongside someone whose moves you anticipate. You know, I think I’ll keep him.

Thankfully, Cubby decided to take it easy on us (Not a single tool was chucked across the garage, and swear words kept to a minimum. Good job, Matt!) and within a couple hours, my mower and I were once again attacking the weedy, green expanse. Triumph. I was so proud and grateful. I didn’t even change, wearing my oil stained t-shirt like a badge of honor as we circled the property.

I’m sure the cows were impressed.  

July 17, 2018

The Misadventures of Tico and Clipperman

For the record, I'm NOT making fun of my husband. My daughter explained that, since he and I are two halves of a whole, it's really self-deprecating humor. So, I'm gonna go with that.

You remember Tico, my little, black dog? There he is! Isn't he cute?

I hadn't gotten around to giving Tico his summer haircut, and Matt decided to help me out and do it himself. It mattered not that he had never given our extremely squirmy, petrified of the clippers, long-haired doggy a buzz cut. He's a small dog. Really, how hard could it be?

I'm hardly an expert, but I have given Tico enough haircuts to be really, really just okay at it. At least when I do it you can still tell Tico is a dog, a plus in my book. So, I was not prepared for the sight that greeted my eyes when a chewed up, slightly lop-sided, black dust mop ran up to me and wagged its tail. Oh. My.

My poor dog looks like he'd been mauled by a rabid squirrel, or maybe had an unfortunate encounter with a weed-whacker. The hair on his back is unevenly chopped and there are large chunks of his mustache missing. Most of the hair on his legs is untouched giving the impression he is wearing wooly chaps. The hair around one ear is shorter than the other so it appears his head is permanently cocked to the side, and his tail is shaved part way down, ending in a long tuft like a lion.

“But, look,” my husband urged, “he’s much cooler now.”

No. I could not look. Every time I did I burst into laughter. I tried to control it to no avail. While petting Tico, I had to keep one hand up so I couldn’t see his face, all the while apologizing to my husband for laughing. It’s been a week and my reaction hasn’t gotten any better. I worry might give my dog a complex. 

Of course, my children think it's funny. More than one of them has commented that he now reminds them of a black version of Falcor, the luckdragon in The Neverending Story.


You may wonder why I haven't fixed it yet. I totally have it on my to-do list. Honest. It's just that there are a LOT of things on my to-do list. This is number 36. I'm getting there. In the meantime... he is cooler, so...

Tico's rather "meh" on the whole subject. He has informed me his vanity has taken a backseat to the fact he now gets sympathy treats from the dinner table. He considers this a fair tradeoff. I hope he still thinks so a couple of weeks from now. It will take at least that long for me to scratch his haircut off my list. Perhaps I'll ask my husband to give it another try. I am a firm believer in learning by doing.

On second thought...

May 30, 2018

Once Upon a Grandma

"Once upon a time, I had a baby."

     "You've had more than that."

"Well, this is about the first one. I had to start somewhere. 
Now, hush! I'm telling a story. 
Where was I? Oh, yes. 

Once upon a time, I had a baby. We named her Annie, and she grew up."

     "That was fast."

"You're tellin' me.

She grew up and she got married to a very good man."


"Yes, it was very sweet. 

Annie got married and soon she was growing a baby of her own and I became a Grandma."

     "Just like that?"

"That's how it works.

All the while that new baby was growing, I was waiting."


"Of course. I am always patient, pretty much... some of the time... 
if it's warranted.
Look, I think we're getting off track, here.

Annie found out her baby was a girl."

"So that made her the first daughter, of a first-born daughter, of a first-born daughter, of a first-born daughter, of a first-born daughter..."

"Yes. It's very cool. Stop interrupting.

Annie grew that baby until the baby decided she needed a change of scenery. 
I went with Annie and her good husband, Isaiah, to the hospital."

"A stowaway?"

"No, they invited me. Why would you...?"

"Well, I wouldn't put it past you."

"Hmm... Shall I continue?"

"Be my guest."

"Thank you.

We all greeted Eloise as she made her entrance into the world."

"Eloise is a nice name."

"Isn't it? 

Eloise was beautiful and tiny, and perfect, and cute..."

"She couldn't help but be all of those things, just look at her Grandma."

"... and her parents?"

"Oh, yes, them, too.

I admit, both Annie and Isaiah are doing an amazing job. I'm very proud of them.
You know, I heard that grandchildren are a reward for letting your own children live... or something like that. 
And I love being a Grandma. 
I love grandma-ing. Yes, I just made that up. Feel free to use it.


"She was baptized."


"Yes. That was a blessed day. 
We celebrated with Isaiah's family (who had traveled a very long way) and all of our church family. That little girl was welcomed into the Church as a newly born child of God. I tear up even now just thinking about it."


"No, thanks. I'm good, now.

You know something wonderful about being Eloise's Grandma? I get to hold her."


"No, you don't understand. I love babies. I love to hold them, and rock them, and talk to them, but you can't just go around grabbing other people's babies to hold. They tend to look at you funny."


"So, now that there's another baby in the family, I can hold her and rock her, and talk to her to my heart's content. 
Grandmas are allowed to do that. 
And since Annie and Isaiah hold her all day long and enjoy a little break from time to time, they don't complain at all. 
Their arms get a break and my arms get a baby." 

"That's what's known as a win-win.

And the Grandma lived happily ever after.
The End."

May 8, 2018

Snowmageddon 2018

A post about snow? At this time of year? My plan was to write this back in April, but... life happened. This is me catching up. 

The air was warm. The grass was greening. Hats and mittens were tucked away until next winter, then...


A blizzard. An honest-to-goodness blizzard in the middle of April. 
They gave her a name, even. Evelyn.

One day we were running around in short sleeves and the next...

... David was eaten by a snowdrift.

My thoughts exactly.
We had over 33 inches of snow that weekend. High winds pushed it into great mounds of white, covering everything. 

Look at my poor plum tree. Buried half-way up!

Snow filled our front porch and piled up against our windows, darkening the house. Matt attempted to clear our driveway, but by the time he got to the end of it, he had to start over.

The roads were impassable. Snowplows were getting stuck in ditches. Highways were closed. Unable to fetch Brendan from his job the next town over, we reserved him a room at a hotel within walking distance. We managed to get him home the next day during a lull in the storm, thanks to our truck's four-wheel drive. Then we hunkered down while the next wave of snow arrived. It would take a while 'til the weather cleared.

"Mom, don't you love it out here?"

Of course, Joey didn't mind. A spring blizzard was an adventure of the highest order! During another break in the storm, he scrambled to find his snow bib and boots. There were drifts to climb, snowmen to make, brothers to bury! 

I grabbed my coat and camera and headed out, too. There was a sheet of ice beneath all that snow and as I walked I was followed by the sound of it cracking. It would have freaked me out if I didn't know for certain there was solid ground under that frozen layer and not a river for me to fall into. The noise was eerie. 

There was something else bothering me, however. My children had burrowed like groundhogs into the wet snow.  They were delighted with their tunnels. All I could see were tunnels waiting to collapse on top of them, trapping them under cold, heavy heaps. 

Now, I know this is hard to believe, but on rare occasions, I will worry more than strictly necessary. (I'm sorry if this admission has shocked you and caused you to re-evaluate your perception of me.) As I observed my children disappear into the snowdrifts, I did my best to calmly remind them to use caution and the good sense our Lord gave them, and "just don't dig too deeply." 

Well, I'm pretty sure that's how I meant it to sound. Oddly, instead, it came out as, 
"Avalanche danger!" 

What did I just yell? Even I know two feet of snow falling on top of you does not an avalanche make. To their credit, not one of them rolled their eyes at me (at least that I could see.) We all had a good laugh about it later.

This snowdrift was as tall as I am.

Alex buries Brendan. Ah, brotherly love!

I'm happy the children made the most of the snow while it lasted. In a matter of days, the warm weather returned and the snow melted surprisingly quickly. In fact, a couple weeks after I took these pictures, I drove past an old woman (in shorts) shoveling the tiny remnant of snow off her now green lawn. 

Of all the snowstorms we've experienced, Evelyn will certainly be remembered for years to come. 

February 21, 2018

Morning Musings: Coffee Mugs, Batman, and Mark Twain

What do these things have in common? The gradual return of my health, apparently. It seems I like to string random topics into a cohesive whole to amuse myself, and laying in bed, recuperating, has inspired more randomness than usual.
I've been told I have a quirky brain. My response? 

"Thank you."

My favorite coffee mug

This past Christmas, we each received a mug bearing a fun quote - something from a movie or TV show, or simply a snarky saying. I have no idea where the wording on my mug comes from, but it makes me smile... every single morning... especially since contracting my most recent illness.

Did you know my mug has a Cockney accent? It has! Something like Michael Caine playing Alfred, Batman's butler. Granted, they don't use a silver tray, but when someone brings me coffee while I'm resting in bed, I can almost picture this:

Of course, my mug doesn't quote the Batman movie. It says, "Good morning. I see the assassins have failed." To which I silently add, "again." *internal smirk* 

Yes, I'm still here. Recovering, even. Amazing, right? 

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." - Mark Twain

This is good. It's almost staggering the number of things piled up (literally), waiting for me to get back on my feet. It's true, everyone has pitched in and helped keep the household fed and clothed, but it's equally true some things remain invisible to eyes that are not my own. See that thing on the floor there? That thing that everyone has stepped over at least a hundred times? You and I are the only ones who have noticed it. Weird. 

Wait a minute. Maybe the others did notice it. Maybe they left it there as a signal to me that they needed me. Maybe, just maybe, that thing on the floor, begging to be picked up, is the Mom equivalent of the Bat Signal. 

I shouldn't be surprised. I was the same way as a child. My mother didn't mind at all, however. I know she would have been bored if I had been a neat child. I made her feel needed. Yeah. That's what I was doing. *ahem* What a good child I was.

As Mark Twain once said, "My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it."

Anywhoo, my mug is now empty and I'm feeling well enough to go pick that thing up off of the floor. Take that, illness! You have failed. 

February 3, 2018

At Least It's Not Consumption

Steven Hawking reportedly said, "Life would be tragic if it weren't so funny."
I couldn't agree more.

After they ruled out heart attack, the emergency room doc informed me I have pleurisy. I started to crack up, telling the doctor it sounded like some old-fashioned disease name, like dropsy or the grip.  The nurse and I giggled while putting on our best Southern belle accents, exclaiming, 
"I haz the pleurisy!" 

Well, I may have sounded a bit more like, "...cough, cough... I haz the... cough... pleurisy! cough..." But, you get the idea. 

(This is not the first time I've had that reaction. I must find medical names inherently funny. When my eye doctor told me I had uveitis, I laughingly told him he made that up.)

Now, days later, my doctor sent me back to the ER. Something about not liking that I almost keeled over in her clinic...
I'll admit, I was having a rough day.

My ER visit went something like this:

Me: I'm too weak to stand and my head's going to explode.

Doctor: We can't find anything wrong with you. Come back if you die.

Me: OK, sounds like a plan.

Truthfully, they tried, but a gazillion tests later, I had to forgive my husband for quietly stating, 
"I knew it," 

when they said the CT scan of my head found nothing. Thank you, Honey.

I was sent home to "plant your tush in one spot and don't move 'till you feel better."  

I'm following doctors orders. 
My plans for the day are: 
Lay on my left side, drink some green tea, lay on my right side, fluff my pillow, lay flat on my back and decide I don't like that position, roll back to my left side, flip through all the TV channels bemoaning the fact there is nothing good on, eat soup, chat with Joey, nap, repeat... As you can see my schedule is full.

I just wish I could've brought one of those rockin' nurses home with me. They kept me laughing (even though it made my headache worse) and too distracted to worry. One even complimented me on my "honking big veins."
How is that for a compliment? Seriously. Now, I'm going to get a big head. If anyone says something mean to me, I'll just go,
"Yeah, but I have honking big veins, so... what you said doesn't really bother me."

I'm really hoping rest is going to make a difference and I'll be back on my feet soon. If not, maybe they'll name a disease after me. It can't sound worse than pleurisy.

March 30, 2017

Parting Shot

Annie - "Mom! I can't believe that just came out of your mouth!"
Me, amused, as I walked away - "Imagine the things I leave unsaid."

It wasn't bad, I promise. Just ... unexpected. I'm still smiling.

March 6, 2017

Duck and Slide

This is what passes for entertainment around here.

We had just had an ice storm and I sent the boys out to feed the ducks, urging them to be extra careful... I may have to be more specific in the future.

(No animals or children were harmed in the filming of this video, just so you know.)

February 28, 2017

When Someone Else Says It Better

I could have written something for Lent, but then I found this, and... really... what's the point? All the bases are covered.

Plus, the Emperor's New Groove gifs are the icing on my Lenten cake.

Unless I give up cake.

I should totally give up cake, 'cause cake is for special occasions.That makes it special. Giving up something special instead of something so ordinary you have it every single morning... let's say... something like that boring ol' cuppa joe (Oh, look! I'm holding one now.) with juuuust the right amount of stevia and one little glug of... no, two little glugs of milk, and served at juuust the right temperature - not too hot to drink, but definitely not even close to luke-warm - you know, nothing special at all, just my everyday coffee... giving up something that's actually special will send me further along the path to greater holiness this Lent.

Yes. I'm giving up cake. I've made my decision. I'm now ready for Lent.

You will be too after you read this:

So click it.

See? Don't you feel inspired? You're welcome.

Now I'm off to make our Shrove Tuesday dessert. I'm thinking cake.

October 6, 2016

When Bethany Visits

This is my sister, Bethany. She and I are 12 years apart. She is an amazing wife, mother, sister, and friend. She is creative, energetic and talented.

And this is Blaise. He's the youngest of her three, and the first one I have met. He charmed me completely.

Bethany and Blaise came to visit in September and it was wonderful! I can't express the joy it brought me to look out my window and see this - my children playing in the yard with their aunt and cousin. 

It had been seven years or so since I had seen my sister. Waaay too long! It was so good to catch up. We joked and looked through old photo albums. We laughed as baby Blaise chased Joey through the house.

We did stuff. Ordinary stuff. We talked. We had dinner toether. We picked apples, fed the ducks and chickens, and hung laundry on the line. Tico played with the baby. We ran errands. And we took pictures... lots of pictures. Most of the pictures were taken by my sister. She has a knack for making the ordinary appear special.

Some of my favorite pictures were taken on the evening of my birthday. I knew the photo shoot was designed to keep me distracted while party preparations were made, but I didn't mind. Bethany took photos of me with some of my favorite people and it warms my heart to see them.

Annie came out long enough to tell me I wasn't allowed in the house.

Mary is my little sunshine girl.

Alex is far too amused that he's now taller than I am.

David is a dork. That's why I like him.

Joey hugs are the best.

All too quickly our visit was over. Bethany and Blaise are back home in Virginia, And we are here, not in Virginia... I miss them.

I think I'll just have to win the lottery and move all of my family out here. Yeah. That will work.