Instagram Addiction

I recently, very recently, like say Friday, was turned on to Instagram via my friend Suzanne.  This weekend I’ve decided I need a 12 step program for it.

You simply can take a photo and run it through various filters to achieve different looks, some retro, some greenish, some reddish, some black and white,and  then ooh and aah.

Here’s a sampling of my pictures.  I hope they create a sense of wonderfulness for you as they do me.

My girls

I love these girls!

Something old and antiquey.


Grace trying to stick her head in my lap in the lawn chair.


That’s me.

Big cat


My favorite:  a ladybug on my leg.
Instagramically addicted,

In Memory of My Dad #12–When the goings got tough, the tough went over the hill

When my wife, Anne, used to come home and find me gone, one of the children would say, “Dad has gone over the hill again.”  That would mean things at home had become a trifle thick and I’d walked out on the family once more.

No, I don’t mean walked out for good, but I’m impatient taking care of small children.  Believe me, mine were a handful; yelling, laughing, and running all over the place.  I would become exasperated with the young ‘uns and at times I would blow-up for no reason at all.  Then I would remember something from the Scriptures; “Provoke not your children to wrath.”  That’s when I would know that it was time to go over the hill.

Over the hill is where the yellow wild flowers grow in great abundance, looking as if some demented artist splashed great slashes of yellow paint everywhere.  When my girl Angel was a baby, she picked a big handful of the blossoms.  Joley taught her to say “Happy Easter” and her flowers graced the table that Easter Sunday.  The Easter ham never tasted better.

Over the hill lies a pond where the fat, old bullfrogs croak and harrumph the night away.  Once a neighbor gathered a gallon bucket of frog legs there in less than an hour and the antics that the frogs made when Stan or Steve, both sharks in the local Little League, would throw a rock in their midst, it would seem to rain frogs everywhere.

The hill would slope gently down to where a wet weather creek bubbles and gurgles happily before joining Red Deer creek.  The creek is forbidden to the girls who are barely out of the toddler stage.  But I find the remnants of a small dam and I wonder what kind of skullduggery the boys have been up to down here. 

One hill leads to another and that hill is covered with Indian Paintbrushes.  The Indian Paintbrush to me is the most beautiful of all the wildflowers in the world.  Beyond that is another hill where you can’t walk without crushing the State flower of Texas, the wild Bluebonnet.  Bluebonnet Hill at that time was soon to be leveled to make room for a 4 lane bypass around Pampa, Texas, so me and my kids used to gather a handful of the bluebonnets and transplant them in a grove of mesquite bushes not far from the hill.  I hope we were successful in the removal of the wild flowers.  But that has given over to time now and the flowers probably won’t grow where they were transplanted. 

The mesquite grove also provided us with the aromatic wood that we would use for cooking out.  There is no better taste anywhere in God’s great garden than mesquite flavored steaks or chops, and if it was a few days after payday the aroma of hot dogs could be smelled throughout the neighborhood.

I might as well walk a bit farther to where the black Angus and the Hereford cattle make their home.  Maybe I’ll even inspect the water gaps, making sure they are still sturdy.  I remember once during a summer of not much rain, when the owner of this property offered to cut the water gaps out so that the neighbor’s cattle would have a place to come to water in this spring fed watering hole.  Yes, I remember that drought and the neighbor’s kind offer.

Circling back toward the house I see the black Angus, like a small boy’s playthings, on a hill not so far away, the cows ignore me but the calves approach me cautiously.  I don’t bother them and soon they rejoin their mothers.

Now I have come full circle and here is my household still needing me, I hope fervently.  Angel throws herself against my legs wanting to be picked up and carried, Joley’s bright brown eyes welcome me home while she talks a mile a minute.  Stan and Steve rough house each other around the front yard, Stan laughing so hard at Steve’s ineffectual pummeling that his own defenses are almost nil.

These are my kids, how could I have been so annoyed with them only a short time before.

My wife asks, “Where have you been?”

“Over the hill,” I reply, knowing that things are going to be all right once again in the Briggs’ house.

~R.L. Briggs

I’m Not Gonna Hurt You, I Only Want to Chew On Your Neck.


The J&A Chicken Ranch, the place I call home, is stocked with 2 dogs and 14 chickens. 

Natural enemies, they are. 

The dogs live in the fenced backyard and the chickens live in a chicken pen and garden shed close to the backyard.  Somedays I like to let the dogs out, and somedays I like to let the chickens out, which leaves a logical deduction that someday they’re going to be out at the same time.  I would hate to raise my chicks to survive the  bitter cold, dangerous chicken hawks, and an owner that leaves them crushed under the water tub all day, only to be massacred by tame dogs.

I’ve been trying to think of a way to introduce the dogs to the 9 week old chickens.

My practical approach has been taking the dogs to the chicken pen, shaking my finger, and yelling “NO, NO, NO!” for at least 3 hours at a time.

My husband thinks no matter how many times I do that, if they are ever left alone, Drew Miller will kill them. 

Drew Miller is my killer hound, my head of ranch security, notorious ’round these parts for polishing off possums, slaughtering skunks, and going a couple rounds with any porcupine dumb enough to stick a bunch of quills in his face.

When Drew Miller sees the chickens, he tenses, his ears go up, drool runs from his massive jowls, but  when I give him the finger shake and the NO, NO, NO technique, he becomes disinterested, wags his long, powerful tail, and meanders off. 

Grace, on the other hand, stares them down.  She is on point, which doesn’t make any sense to me since she is a Heeler. 

She won’t break eye contact with the chickens.  She watches their every move.  I think if given the opportunity, she might kill my chickens.  J-Dub says she will only chase them.

I must make the dogs understand that I love these chickens.  I’m trying to train them by going into the chicken pen and holding the chickens, talking to them, and petting them.  The dogs just watch.  I’m not sure they understand.   I think they’re jealous.

They’re certainly curious of them.  They haven’t acted aggressively toward the chickens yet, but I don’t trust them.  No siree Bob.  I’ve got some more work to do on training my dogs to love my chickens as much as I do.  Or rather, less than I do.  I’d be content if they’d just leave them be.

Teaching old dogs new tricks has taken on a whole new meaning for me.

A Sussy

I got a present from my best good friend Erin the other day.

A “sussy” as she calls it.  That means  a surprise in her language.

There’s Erin in the middle, and my other best good friend Mrs. Z on the right. 

You’ll never guess what the “sussy” was.

Not just one, but two Bob Ross T-shirts.

You see, the other day I was wishing I had these shirts.

Actually, I blogged about it  here.

I took a vow, kinda like a monk, to not buy new clothes the entire year of 2011.  Not a T-shirt for Field Day, not a new pair of panties, not even a Bob Ross shirt.  So Erin helped me out.

Mrs. Z (the one pictured up on the right) gave me a mountain of clothes the other day herself.  Pity clothes is what I call them.  If you want some new threads, but you don’t want to pay for them, just announce that you’re not buying any new clothes for a year.  Then find some good friends like I have.

Between these 2 girls, I shant go naked. 

And that’s good for everyone.

Rain and Reptiles

Lightening, thunder, wind, and RAIN greeted us this morning in the Texas Panhandle.  It has been so dry, the trees are bribing the dogs.  Here in my little town we only average 21.16″ of rain annually.  So far this year, we’ve received seven drops.  Okay, maybe eight.

Technically, we’re in a drought.  We haven’t been this dry since the 1960’s.

Drought Monitor

So every teensy, tiny little drop of rain helps.   Even if it is a couple hundredths of an inch.  My husband is still having to cake the cows, which has nothing to do with chocolate in case you’re wondering.  Usually by this time of the year, they are able to graze, but since it hasn’t rained, the grass hasn’t grown.  Something about that whole cause and effect thing.

Texas: Current 1-Day Observed Precipitation Valid at 5/11/2011 1200 UTC - Created 5/11/11 23:40 UTC

Just so you can feel a tiny bit sorry for me, I’ll tell you how hard it is to go to work while it’s raining  out here at “the Place”.  I gather up my purse, my lunch, my phone, and my coffee cup and hit the door running.  I don’t have a garage.  Nor do I have an umbrella, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have a hand to hold it.  So I must run to the car while the rain comes at me sideways pushed by gusty winds and plops in my coffee.  I also don’t have a paved driveway, I have a dirt one.  Nor do I have an electric gate opener.  So my flipflops become soaked and muddy, and my clothes become wet, and my hair sticks to my head as I get out of the car to open the gate, step in a puddle, get back in the car, step in a puddle, drive through the gate, get back out of the car to close the gate, step in a puddle, get back in the car to head to work. 

But I’m thankful for the rain.  I’m not complaining. Really.  Please don’t mistake this for complaining.  It’s just something new I’ve had to learn since I was used to garages with openers and paved driveways.  Ah, the country life.

Perhaps the rain is what brought a friend into my yard this evening.   He’s from the reptile family, but don’t worry, it’s not a rattlesnake.    You know, the first time I see a rattler in my yard, I’m liable to sieze up and piss myself.  It was only a little turtle.  I took a picture, but it wouldn’t load, so nevertheless you have to take my word for it.

The turtle fellow kinda caught me by surprise, nestled up against the chicken pen.  He’s probably a harmless welfare case out begging for some free chicken scratch or something. 

Actually I have no idea what turtles eat. 

We found a turtle one time a couple of years ago and my niece Ashy tried to feed it some grass and leaves,

but it wasn’t having any part of that. 

I guess it doesn’t matter what he eats, as long as it isn’t chicken, we’ll get along just fine.

Mumbo jumbo

If you could see me as I write this, you would find me sitting in my car in a McDonald’s parking lot (I heard they have free wi-fi), partly killing time before I go to a teachers banquet, and partly trying to blog about nothing.
I missed blogging Sunday, Mother’s day, the easiest day of the world to blog. I mean there isn’t enough paper in the world to contain the words that could be written about dear old Anne. So I didn’t blog Sunday and it bothered me badly.  I don’t want it to happen again. 

Rush, rush, rush.   That’s what I do lately.   And I’m not even a mother.   I don’t know how they squeeze it all in.
Mumbo jumbo.  That’s what is going through my head.
Theres a few things I want to tell you that will not make a hill of beans in anybody’s world but mine. But my head is full of jumbo mumbo or mumbo jumbo.
1.   I just ate a Twix.
2.  There are 4 dirty coffee cups and 2 empty coke cans in my oh so meticulously clean car.
3.  Admitting I have a caffeine addiction is step #1.
4.  I took a huge risk today and let my chickens out of their chicken pen to wander here and yon as they please. They may all be dead when I get home.
5.  I’m about to eat bar-b-cue and then I have to stand up in front of my peers and read a tribute I wrote to my dear friend and co-worker who is retiring.
6. I’m feeling sick to my stomach.
7. I recently, accidentally turned my hair blonde. Its not a good look.
8. Mumbo jumbo.
9. Rush, rush, rush

10.  My toes are wrinkly.
11. There’s only 13 more days of school.  Can I get an Amen?

Glad I got that all off my chest.  I’m feeling much better now.

Jiggity Jig

My sister-in-law called me the other day bubbling with excitement about the jigsaw puzzles she found for me.

After I got them in my hot little paws, I’m bubbling with excitement as well.

I am restraining myself from starting them now.  I have to wait until June, my schedule will only allow it.

 If you’re a jigsaw puzzle lover like myself, these are going to make you start foaming at the mouth.  If jigsaw puzzles make your eyes cross and your tongue loll, well then these would probably push you over the edge that you are precariously teetering on.

The first one:

It’s called Impossibles for a reason.


I can not wrap my mind around the idea of a borderless puzzle.

Then on opening the box, I discover another bag of puzzle pieces inside.  Only that bag has no box.  I’m not sure what happened to the box, but no box also means no picture.

That won’t be hard at all do you think?  Working a puzzle with no idea of what it is supposed to be.   Easy Peasy, Japanesy.

And then the third and final puzzle:

It nonchalantly claims “Any genius can do it”.  But don’t bother looking at the picture on this one either, because it is assembled incorrectly on purpose.

It also reports “there are millions of combinations but only one correct solution”.

This puzzle contains pieces that are double-sided and talks to you giving you clues to further complete the puzzle.

I wonder who thought to create these.

Some people really do have too much time on their hands.

I can’t wait to become one of them.

Summer’s coming, keep smiling.



In Memory of My Dad #11

Every Saturday I share a story written by my dad while he wrote commentaries for his local newspaper in Northeastern Oklahoma, a.k.a. Green Country. 

I saw him at a local discount store making his way between the kitchen products and the greeting cards.  I was there picking up a birthday card for my sister, and I could tell from the stiff-legged gait that reminded me of the paisano bird or the road runner that he’d had a stroke.

I knew the walk too well, after suffering a crippling stroke myself a couple years back and sure enough, after we had howdied and shook, he informed me he’d had a stroke while umpiring baseball.  This man had been wearing the tools of umpiring for thirty years and having a stroke was the farthest thing from his mind.

Blue still had his mental faculties and was still lucid and we talked about what we had to do to try to get back to 75 or eighty percent again.  There is no getting back to a hundred percent after a brain attack, and Blue was looking at getting back to where he could umpire some slow pitch softball games where he wouldn’t have to wear all the equipment that goes with a baseball game.

Some may call the strokes that Blue and I suffered a stroke warning, but I can tell you that they are devastating to the victim.  You are confused and usually can’t communicate with the care-giver and tell them what is bothering you.  I have seen men in the rehabilitation center in Muskogee that couldn’t remember their name–sharp guys—they just couldn’t remember their name or what their nose or lips were supposed to be called.

It was terrible, and while some of the men were cheerful and upbeat about the whole thing, others were withdrawn and just gave up on the idea of ever getting back to any semblance of normalcy.

When you first feel the symptoms of a stroke coming on, you are confused as to what might be happening.  That feeling of confusion doesn’t leave for many months.  Perhaps you can bluff your way through like I tried to do, but you are better off to accept the stroke and get busy living.  The alternative is awesome.

I always worked jobs that required me to be outside.  I rough necked drilling rigs, was a boilermaker and hung “red iron” and was a troubleshooter for a major pipeline.  I walked tall on the earth, and in my pride I was always ready and able to take care of my wife and children.  All that ended when I had my stroke.

All of a sudden no one wants to hire you, medical insurance is just a memory.  Thank goodness for the W.W. Hastings Hospital or I would be a charity case.  It’s one time that being an Indian did me a heap of good.

Strokes occur when the blood vessels to the brain become clogged or leak blood.  The narrowing of blood vessels over time or  blood clots can result in the deprivation of oxygen to the brain resulting in a stroke.  Leaks are less common and as in my case occur when a faulty blood vessel leaks blood into the brain housing group.

Then it’s MRI’s and brain scans, long waits for tests, trips to Tulsa and you are just praying this is all a bad dream and you’re going to wake up and be late for work again.  But that is not to be, you’ve had a stroke now , you must deal with it.

Severity of a stroke depends on how long the brain is cut off from the supply of oxygen and the part of the brain that is damaged.  Your motor skills are gone, your vision is impaired or it’s partially gone.  Your face is drawn and your speech is impaired.  One side of the body goes numb–in my experience, strokes that occur on the right side of the body are much more severe than those that occur on the left.

A good point to remember about stroke patients is that their brains are still in good working order, just scrambled around a little bit.  Give him time and you’ll see that he is as sharp as ever.  The only thing about a stroke is that it’ll take more time for him to communicate with you in a positive manner.

So Blue, I hope you make it back to umpiring.  I also hope that I’m sitting there in the bleachers cheering you on or cussing you out depending on what the situation allows.

I found this following insight written on a tattered card that my son collected and it seemed appropriate for this column.  It reads:  “I’ve been bawled out, balled up, held down, held up, bulldozed, blackjacked, walked on, cheated, squeezed and mooched, stuck for war tax, excess profit tax, sales tax, dog tax, and syntax, Liberty Bonds, baby bonds and the bonds of matrimony, Red Cross, Blue Cross and the double cross; I’ve worked like hell, worked others like hell, got drunk, gotten others drunk, lost everything I had and now because I won’t spend or lend what little I can earn, beg, borrow or steal.  I’ve been cussed, discussed, boycotted, talked to, talked about, lied to, lied about, worked over, pushed under, robbed and damned near ruined.  The only reason I’m sticking around now is to see, what the hell is next.”

~R.L. Briggs

A List of Favorites


I awoke this morning and for some reason a song was in my head “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma.” I sang it to myself and then I pulled it up on YouTube and had a listen.  And of course I cried.  I have a very strong memory of lying on the bed in my parents’ red bedroom next to my dad as he played that song.  I loved it then and I love it still.  This morning I listened to that song probably 13 times repeatedly.

It began to wash over me how much I love duets.  Two beautiful voices singing together, at the same time relying on one another.  Here’s a list of my favorites.  I was going to list 10, but I could only think of nine. 

9.  Loretta Lynn & Johnny Cash—-Jackson

8. Seven Spanish Angels—Willie Nelson & Ray Charles

7.  Whiskey Lullaby—Allison Kraus & Brad Paisley

6.  Meet Me In Montana—-Marie Osmond & Dan Seals

5.  Close My Eyes Forever—-Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne

4.  I Got You Babe—Sonny & Cher

3.  You’re the Reason Our Kids are Ugly—Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn

2.  Picture—Kid Rock & Sheryl Crow

1.  You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma—David Frizzell & Shelly West

What would you add?