Is that cat afterbirth? Subtitle: So you call this photography?

Here are a few of my favorite things.
Piano.  I’m trying.
The color yellow.
And Yellow Tulips.
Especially when my husband brings them to me for absolutely no reason at all.
Chocolate milk.
 Yellow polka dots.
And learning to take  pictures.
Emphasis on learning.

A Conversation

I have a second grade classroom full of second grade students.  They are just plain groovy.  I like to mingle amongst them some, get to know them, talk with them, listen to them.  They’ll share their lives, their secrets, their fears, not to mention everything their parents’ want them to keep quiet. 
They aren’t all equipped with a filter at this age, and thoughts just come out of their mouths in brutal honesty.  I have one particular little girl who shared a story with me today. This is how it went.

Precious second grader (PSG):  I was bawling up last night because I got afraid I wouldn’t ever have a husband. 

Yes this is pretty odd for a seven year old to say.

Me:  Oh, honey.  You don’t need to worry about that.   You have a long time until you need to think about that kind of stuff.

PSG:  My mom said not to think about it and my dad said I don’t need a husband because he’s everything I’ll ever need.  And I said ‘No, you’re too old!’

We were having a good laugh right about this time, and my curiosity was extremely high.

Me:  Sugar pie, what were you doing that made you start thinking about having a husband?

PSG:  Oh, I was watching this kissing movie with my mom and dad.

Me:  EWW, I hate kissing.

PSG:  Do you let your husband kiss you?

Me:  Well……sometimes.  I…..might let him kiss me on the forehead.

PSG:   (mouth dropping and gasping) You don’t know anything about love!!

This Is What I Get For Bragging

“He who toots his own horn, the same shall not be tooted.”
That’s what my Grannie used to say.
Translation:  Quit Bragging.

Recently I blogged about my tough fish.  If you didn’t read it, you can read about it here.  I blogged about how they survived a freezing cold spell.  About how they were strong genetic creatures.  About how big and fat and juicy they were.

Now they are dead.
Both of them.

One fish,
two fish,
both fish,
are dead fish.

They survived a freezing spell, only to be poisoned by me.
I changed their food, they wouldn’t eat, the water got all cloudy, and they floated to the top.

I’m grieving.
I know they are just fish, but good grief, my heart is sad anyway.

Sorry, no pictures are available for this post.  I didn’t want to remember how they looked with their big glazed-over fish eyeballs staring at me.
Or their beautiful fanned out tails lying limp in the water.
Or their small fish mouths gaping open.
Or their bulging bellies bobbing in the water.

Okay that’s enough of that.

I’m going to find a grief support group now.

My Niece Zoie……..

We have a love/hate relationship.
I think she’s a brat, in the loving way an aunt should.
She thinks I’m a hag.
My sister thinks it’s because we’re both Pisces, and more alike than I care to admit.
Truthfully, she is a brat and I’m a hag, and we’re both just real perceptive.

Her feelings wouldn’t be hurt if I dropped dead tomorrow.

See how she’s staring me down? She knows I’m unarmed in this fight. She knows she’s got control of an endless water supply. She’s evil. My only defense is to scream, “I’ve got a camera. I’ve got a camera.”

Today I’m giving her a Happy Birthday shoutout. She is an amazingly awesome, undeniably goofy, eight year old drama queen.  Rotten to the core and more stubborn than any mule you’ve ever seen.

I got to name her.
Zoie Eden.
Her name might be in lights someday.


Can you picture it?

Go ahead and check her out.


Happy Birthday Zo Belle.  I hope you have the best birthday an eight year old could ever dream of having. 
And I love your little old stinky butt!

The Story of How Me and Jason Became Happily Ever After

I’ve known my husband since I was eleven years old and he was twelve.  My family ran onto some hard times and had to move to the po’ side o’ town.  That’s where Jason lived too.  He was sweet on my sister for a while, and would bring her roses he’d stolen from somebody’s flowerbed.  I stayed inside watching Golden Girls and Cagney and Lacey with my Grannie and didn’t give two thoughts to boys. 

We went to Middle School and High School together where he was a year older than me.  We hung out in different crowds, but said hello in passing.

 I was in my early adulthood when I figured out that I knew everyone in both the police record and the wedding announcements.  Early adulthood is when society dictates that you should get married.  I wasn’t married, nor was I anywhere close.  There’s a sort of panic that sets in when you figure out that you aren’t on the same time frame as the rest of the world.    

Being a single girl in a small town is not an easy thing to do.  Up until I found and married Jason, I was constantly being asked who I was dating, why wasn’t I dating, or someone was trying to fix me up.  Eventually I think people decided I was probably a lesbian and left me alone. 

One day in 1998 I went to the grocery store to buy Fruity Pebbles and Ramen Noodles, probably.  As I was walking out, a girl I knew stopped me in the parking lot and told me someone’s truck had just rolled into my car.   In small towns everyone knows what everyone else drives.  I rolled my eyes. This turned out to be my third wreck in a parking lot!  In my experience, you’re pretty much out of luck.  The police won’t do much because it’s considered private property.  You just have to hope the other guy has insurance and is a respectable dude who will take care of it.  I walked a little further and noticed that this old, green, beat up Ford pickup had rolled out of gear about fifty feet and slammed his taillights into my headlights.  Neither of us were in our vehicles at the time.  This old, green, beat up Ford just so happened to belong to Jason.  I knew that the minute I saw it.  Small town stuff.

So I waited on him to meander out of the store.  He was all apologies, promised he’d take care of it.  And he did.  He called me up and asked me to take it to a certain body shop, the car got fixed and life went on.  And that was that. 

For five years.
Dates with crazies came and went.  
Then I became a recluse. 
I would never go out. People would tell me I needed to be out meeting people. But I had met people, and they turned out to be daddy’s boys or killer cops and I’d rather stay home and watch Survivor alone. If somebody wanted to date me, they were going to have to knock on my door. That was my mindset.

Then one day I came home from work to find Jason’s name on my caller ID.  That was curious, but I assumed it was a wrong number.  He called back two days later and asked me out.  We talked for three hours.    I was teaching school and a parent of one of my students, that happened to be a friend of his, had suggested he ask me out.  He remarked that I was too sweet for him, which is true, but decided he’d get his nerve up anyway.   I’d had my experiences with cowboys, not to mention their dads, and didn’t figure it would go anywhere, but I agreed.  Eating Ramen Noodles was getting pretty old by this time. 
It worked out pretty good.
He wore a yellow shirt. 
We had a second date.
He took me horseback riding.
He had to give me a boost on the butt.
I was petrified.
We got married.
He still has to give me a boost on the butt. 
A much bigger boost on a much larger butt. 
But sometimes, when I get nostalgic, I’ll think about the wreck.  I found out later, that of course that poor boy didn’t have any insurance and ended up breaking a horse for the guy to pay for my car repairs. 
It’s a funny story I guess.  Maybe even a coincidence.
Perhaps it was Fate.
Or Destiny.
Or the cosmos aligning perfectly with Mercury in the Sixth House.

But if you really want to know the truth, I believe it was God. 
I believe that he intended for that collision of two unmanned vehicles to be the beginning of Jason and Angel.  A collision of love.
And we just weren’t listening. 

That was probably one big gigantic move on His part to create His will for two dumb pilgrims down here, and we missed it.  So he went to Plan B.    He works around our goofs. 
Because He’s cool like that.

A Bad Man Once or Twice

Happy Valentine’s Day my friends.

Recently, my life has been getting in the way of my blogging.  I have overloaded my plate once again, and if I have one more commitment added, I think I’ll internally combust. 
Right now I am supposed to be running seven miles, training for a half marathon that I so foolishly signed up for, but the wind is howling and I’m not doing it.  I’m not.  Instead I’m blogging.  And eating sunflower seeds.  And drinking chocolate milk.  Ah, the simple pleasures in life. 

Jason is in a cooking mood.  Tonight he’s preparing veal chops.  Baby calf.  Speaking of baby calves, on the way to Sunday school, my niece Ashlynn commented that it smelled like the baby calf’s bottle.  It was just my hands.  I had rubbed on some Bert’s Bees Wax milk and honey lotion and coincidentally, it smelled like cow udders.  Nice.

And my brain is like a ball of yarn.  I chase rabbits occasionally.

I’ve had a whole week’s worth of blog posts planned to lead into Valentine’s day, and haven’t had 2 seconds to sit and write this week. 
In honor of the blessed day of love, I give you this quote: 

“A woman’s got to love a bad man once or twice in her life to be thankful for a good one.” 

And I have a good one, let me tell you.  He’s the best. 

And I’ve had one or two bad ones too.

I didn’t marry until I was 29 years old.  In that amount of time I had about three dates.  One was forgetful, but that quote jogged my memory of the other two.

I met this guy one time at a hockey game.  He asked me on a date.  I don’t know why I said yes, because he was about eight and a half feet tall and we looked like Mutt and Jeff.  He wore a black cowboy hat and said yes ma’am.   We lived in two different towns.  When he called me on the phone, he said he’d like to take me to the cowboy church.  Well, isn’t that sweet?  A good guy finally.  I don’t remember all the details, because I’m low in B12 and I found out at my doctor’s this week that if untreated long enough, it can lead to dementia, which I think I’ve surpassed.  But somehow we met up.

Now don’t get me wrong, I thought going on a first date to church was a bit odd, but I was  looking for a good Christian man and figured it just might be the will of the Lord.  You know how sometimes he screams things at us?  So we went to the Cowboy Church.  His dad sat with us.  As far as I remember it was a good message.  When it was over, we were going to get something to eat.  Well come to find out, he and his dad had Chinese buffet every Saturday night after church.  So we went and had chinese……with his dad.  Okay,  now it was just way weird.  Tex didn’t have much to say anyway, his dad didn’t either. I don’t recall saying too much myself.   I kind of felt like a third wheel ruining their regular Saturday night ritual.  Seems to me, Tex could’ve told his dad that he was having a date and needed to be alone, but perhaps he was too shy to have a date by himself.  I’m not sure, and I didn’t stick around long enough for him to poke his head out of his shell.

I met this other guy at a baseball game.  (I’m making myself out to sound like some sort of a sports nut, and that’s the farthest from the truth.)  He was a handsome devil, and in law enforcement.  A dangerous combination I agree.   He invited me to go on a motorcycle ride with him.  So the next day, I climbed on, helmetless, and he took me down some crazy back roads I’d never been before.  The whole time I was thinking of all those 20/20 episodes I’d seen where killer cops had never been found guilty.  We finally stopped on some desolate road in an obscure location by some water.  I had no idea where we were.  He proceeded to pull out a six pack of beer from the back of his motorcycle and drank all six in a matter of 30-40 minutes and then, we got back on that motorcycle with no helmets, and CHiP drove 100 mph home as I prayed the entire time. 

At one point, he took his shirt off and forced me to stare at his hairy gorilla back that he thought was tan and muscular.  It was tan and muscular from what I could tell when his hair wasn’t blowing up my nose.  Then he actually said the following words to me…….these words actually came out of his mouth……..”if I have any zits back there, go ahead and pop them.” 

Really y’all, I can’t make this kind of stuff up.

After that I locked myself in my house and never answered the phone again. 
Until Jason called. 
That’s tomorrow’s story.

Colorful Calves

Most of what I know about cows, I’ve learned from Jason.

Everything I know about cows, I’ve learned from Jason.

I’ve only seen one baby calf born a couple of years back, and it was one of the most awesome things I’ve experienced.  Except for the fact that it was a first time mommy. You have to keep your eyes on those first timers.  So when Jason pulled kind of close to make sure it wasn’t having trouble, she decided to stand up and flee causing the calf to fall out on its head.  Then it was something akin to trauma in the ER.  The momma cow ran off scared.  Jason had to rush out of the truck, pick the baby up by its back legs, shake it (not sure why).  Then he got a piece of grass and tickled its slimy nose until it sneezed to make sure its lungs were all clear.  Then we left and hid out with a pair of binoculars and watched to make sure the momma came back. 
And she did. 
And all was right with the world.

When calving begins, it’s my favorite part of the whole ranching life. 
Most of the time, calves are born, mommas tend to their babies, and the angels sing.  In my mind they do.
But some calves aren’t so lucky. 

While out feeding this past weekend, Jason found a calf.  Its momma was nowhere in sight and she hadn’t yet cleaned it off.  It was lying in the snow in dire need of nursing.  After an unsuccessful attempt to reunite the mom with the calf, and knowing the baby needed nourishment right away, he called me to tell me he’s bringing a baby home.  I love it!  A bottle calf.  It adds excitement to my life.

He didn’t have a good way to transport it, so he used his cowboy smarts and put it in the cake feeder.

Here you can see its umbilical cord still hanging.  It was probably born that morning.
It usually takes a good amount of time to get a brand new calf to nurse.  Everything is unfamiliar to them. 
This particular calf was very stubborn.  Jason had to pry her mouth open.  She still wouldn’t suck the bottle. 
Notice the yellow Crocs Jason’s wearing.
He likes to wear my shoes. 
And sometimes my undergarments, but we won’t discuss that.
After a very long time of trying, consoling, persuading, and petting the baby, it still hadn’t figured out how to suck.
Desperate to get colostrum (mother’s antibodies) into her, he had to tube her by running a hose into her belly and I had to pour the colostrum into a funnel. 
This was extremely unpleasant for me, and I wasn’t the one with a tube down my throat.
The gagging was the worst part.

I think I was louder than the calf.

We then decided to call it a night, desperately hoping she would make it.  The  next morning, she was hanging in there.  Since Jason was cooking a delectable breakfast for us, I decided I’d try my non-ranching hand at bottle feeding. 

She still wouldn’t take the bottle.  She fought it, thrashing her head around, chewing on the nipple.  So I decided to do what I do when I’m in doubt.  I googled it.  One little trick said to dip your fingers into the milk, let the calf suck your fingers a while, and then sneak the nipple into its mouth.  Lo and behold, this piece of sneakery worked.  As she sucked on my fingers, I stealthily crammed the nipple in her mouth. 

Did you know?  Calves only have bottom teeth.

After church, she took another bottle.  Then we delivered her to the owner’s family to raise her.  This same family bottle-raised a different black calf in the past.  The daughter named that one Rainbow.  So in the tradition of giving a little color to a black calf, this one is named Scarlet.

Frankly my dear, I hope you do well.

P.S.  Jason really doesn’t wear my undergarments, unfortunately.

Lucky Days!

Remember when I  broke my mirror and was automatically assigned seven years bad luck?  If not, read here.

I’m here to tell you, that is all bull hockey.  You can take it to the bank.

Because if I was having bad luck, I wouldn’t have this story to tell you.

Since breaking my mirror, I have looked high and low, far and wide for another one.  A pretty one.  Not a plastic one with a handle from the drugstore.

This past weekend, we went into a consignment shop, and I found this little treasure for $7.50!  You can’t beat that. 
The kicker is, it’s almost identical to my last one.

TAKE THAT, Superstition.

Wordless Wednesday (Nevermind)

I tried to post a Wordless Wednesday blog.
I’ve noticed some bloggers do it.  They don’t say anything, just post a picture.
I tried, I really did.
I posted the picture, but I couldn’t stand not to say something.  Anything.

I don’t think I’m much of a talker.  I attribute that to my mom, who is one. 

I was shocked to discover that others disagree with this quiet self image I possess. 

Jason for one, thinks I talk all the time.  He regularly reminds me that the first time he called to ask me on a date, I talked 3 hours.  Evidently, he talked some too, or we wouldn’t be here today, now would we?

This year, one of my second graders said, “Mrs. Wheeler, you’re just like my brother.”  Oh yeah, how’s that?  “You’re both always talking.”  Well, Hello????  I’m teaching here.

A friend of mine says when I have a little wine, or a little too much wine rather, I’m not quiet then either.  So that’s three measly people who think I talk alot.  But I don’t, really, I swear it.

So back to the picture. 

My niece is a ten (two months shy of eleven) year old in a 7 year old body.  She’s tiny and weighs in around 52 pounds.  We were out feeding some cows recently. Rest assured this picture was not taken on I-40. 

When Jason was 8 years old, he was driving an old pick-up around his grandpa’s farm doing chores, and walking 5 miles to school uphill, in the snow.  Ashlynn is two years behind schedule according to this mentality.

 He put her in the driver’s seat, only to find she needs a couple Houston telephone books to sit on.  So he had her sit in his lap in order to see over the steering wheel.  She was so relaxed.  Anyone who knows her, knows that relaxed and Ashlynn don’t jive.  She’s never relaxed.  She was also so focused, and again, not a word association for Ash.  It was like she’d been driving since she was two.  She stayed on the road.  She controlled the gas and brake pedal like a pro.  Unlike her auntie here who nearly threw my brother through the windshield of his El Camino on my first drive.

I, on the other hand, was not so relaxed and was white knuckling the Oh S**T Bar the whole time.  Jason kept reminding me to chill out, what is the worst that could happen. 

Nothing did happen.  All the cows are safe.  No barbed wire fence was ran through.  No trees were hit, mostly because there are no trees present in a 50 mile radius.   Ignore the one in the picture.  It’s just a figment of your imagination.  I was surprised.  Astonished.  Impressed. 

Next time we’re going to bring a couple phone books.

And maybe next Wednesday, I’m not going to say anything.  Ha!

Turning the page on January

 I have to go back to work tomorrow.  I’ve had a four day weekend, thanks to this snowstorm, which resulted in a four pound weight gain, thanks to this sweet tooth.  A pound a day, but who’s counting.   I’ve stayed cooped up to the point of stir craziness. 

You know the movie Hope Floats?  You know the part where Birdee lays around for a few days depressed after her husband officially leaves her on national TV?  Her mama finally gives her loving motherly advice and says, “Go on.  Get outside.  Get the stink blown off of ya!”   That pretty much sums it up around here too. 

We did make it out yesterday.  Fresh air.  Here’s our snowman.  I now have a new appreciation for ice sculpters.

I snapped this picture right after its mouth fell off but right before its nose did. 
The weather is still yuck.  I’ve never been to California, or I’d be dreaming of it on a winter’s day.  47 days till Spring.

J Dub’s been working his magic in the kitchen lately. 

This is a puffed pancake or sometimes called a Dutch baby that we had for breakfast this morning.  Add a little syrup and wa-la!
This was last night’s supper of ribeye steak, risotto, and veggies.  Yum-O!

Two things I could never brag on myself for: 

1.  cooking
2.  remembering song lyrics
3.  following directions
4.  singing
5.  making a bed with hospital corners
6.  coloring my hair
7.  drinking 8 glasses of water per day

I realize I said two, but I got on a roll. 


February starts tomorrow.  The month of mush.  We are one month into the new year.  How are your resolutions holding up?

Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. To-day, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient short comings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion.

[reprinted in The Works of Mark Twain; Early Tales & Sketches, Vol. 1 1851-1864, (Univ. of California Press, 1979), p. 180.]
Territorial Enterprise, January 1, 1863

January, we bid you farewell.

And take your crappy weather with you.

Till February Folks,