Posted in Animals

Chicken Drowning Averted

The fourteen chickens who run this ranch have full reign of the place.  At times, they may be found perched on the hood of a truck, sitting on a tractor wheel, or stealing the horse’s feed.  They do as they please, when they please, which is just fine with me.  I can’t bear to coop them up.  They deserve to free birds.

As long as chickens roam free, there is risk involved.  The chicken hawks, the snakes, the speeding cars on the adjacent highway.  And then there’s the horse trough.

There is a debate in the poultry world as to whether chickens can swim or not.  I didn’t know this until the other day when I was forced to.

J-Dub was tending to the animals one evening when he noticed the water in one of the drinking tubs for the horses was rather low.  As he drew near to put the water hose in, he discovered a Barred Plymouth Rock in the water.   That’s a breed of chicken for you laypersons.  The dear fowl was soaked to the skin, feathers drenched, exhausted, and very stressed. 

He rescued her from the drinking tub where she couldn’t fly out either because a) the water was too low and she couldn’t scale the top or B)because the trough is narrow and she couldn’t spread her wings fully to fly out.  We don’t know how long she treaded (is that a word) water.  But we know she was sure glad to get out of there.  I’m positive my husband coddled her and spoke soft and tender reassuring words to her.  He put he in the chicken coop where she sat dripping in a state of shock emitting a long sad whimper.  If you can imagine a chicken whimpering. 

And then he came in and told me about it. 

It could’ve been bad if he had not found her.  I worried for my sweet chicken all night, well at least until I fell asleep.  The next morning, her feathers were badly ruffled, she seemed a little tired and perhaps a bit stove up, but was no worse for the wear.  She has made a full recovery and hopefully learned a good lesson. 

I might have to put some floaties on her wings just in case.

Not really my chicken
image found at dogswhotwitter.com
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Posted in Stories by my dad

In Memory of My Dad #27

written by my dad, Bob Briggs 1943-2011

“Of course we’re going to Oklahoma City for Derby Day,” declared Val vehemently.  “Haven’t we always gone for the past several years?  It’s imperative that we go.  It’s our sworn duty!  I’ll call Doc for some cash tonight.  What ‘da ya think?  About 500 bucks sound right for this gig?”

Val was still feeding off his victory earlier that day when he and his long-suffering partner had taken the retired marine flyer and the long-knocking kid out on the ninth hole of the Sequoyah Golf club, and Val was bouncing around like a ping-pong ball.

Of course the twelve pack I brought along for the peace offering was down to  the last two beers and that wasn’t helping matters much either.

But Val is like a clam.  Open his head and put an idea in and watch it grow into a gem of an idea.  All I had done to bring forth this idea was to ask Val if we were going to OKC for the running of the Kentucky  Derby.

Doc is an old friend from our younger days.  But not wanting to bore you with the details of his misspent youth, I’ll just say that Doc listened to his body and slowed his activities (both legal and illegal) way down.  Doc is a song writer par excellence, and his trilogy about the outlaw Ned Christie is worth traveling many miles to hear. 

It has been several years since I have been to the Kentucky Derby.  I believe it was the year that Dust Commander, the 16 to 1 shot, won the run for the roses.  Silent Screen, the horse that I had bet heavily on was leading the race coming into the final turn faded badly and finished the fifth hole.

On Saturday morning of race day, the infield at Louisville will resemble a huge outdoor looney bin.  The whole grass meadow will be covered with people from all walks of life.  The cheap seats.  That slice of life that would invariably draw me to its confines like a moth to an open flame.

Fifty thousand people, most of them stumbling drunk, jammed backside to belly button.  It’s a fantastic scene.  What with people laughing, crying, fainting, copulating, and trampling each other.

People from all walks of life, getting angrier and angrier as they lose more and more money.  By mid afternoon they’ll be swilling Mint Juleps with both hands and vomiting on each other between races.

The regulars at Churchill Downs, serious betters included, spend most of the day in the paddock area.  They can hunker down with a tall glass of Old Fitzgerald, while watching the flashing lights and the many changing odds of the huge tote boards.

But I have seen the whiskey gentry in action.  Buy the ticket, take the ride.  The Age of Aquarius is over, now for seven years of healing and mending while the country gets back in shape.  To get quietly and pleasantly drunk and try not to offend anyone.  To get along, go along. 

I sure need to break even over at Okie City this weekend, because I need the money.

Posted in Pregnancy

Baby

There comes a time in a blogger’s life, when she must decide if something is too personal to share.  It’s easy to share chicken stories and recipes, possum deaths, and classroom funnies, but not so easy to tell others when you’re falling apart.  Not for me anyway.  There is an occurrence in my life and something on my heart that I want to write down.  I want to be able to reflect back on this season.  And I must decide.  Do I want everyone who happens upon this blog to know my struggles?  But then again, there may even be the wild chance that it might help someone else.  Or even there might be someone who can help me.  Who knows. 

I’m a very private person really, although it may be hard to believe.  A lot of the things I write are simply stories and day-to-day happenings that really are just for entertainment purposes and possibly posterity.,  I keep myself tightly guarded for the most part, but sometimes I find myself wanting to share my emotions.  Today is one of those times. This leap leaves me wide open.  Open to criticism, open to judgement, open to pity.  Today I’m deciding to share something very personal and something that I’ve only shared with my closest loved ones.  But I’m sharing  it for a few reasons.

1)  Prayer:  It allows people to pray for me, which is all I’ve got. 

2)  Humility:  It’s very humbling to admit when I’m in the valley.  I don’t want to sin by being proud, and it is something I struggle with.  

3)  Support:  By sharing, I hope to hear stories that will comfot and rest my heart.

4)  Friends:  I know I have enemies, but I like to believe I have  friends too.  I know that people care about me and I am overwhelmed by the love of friends and even strangers who I only know through this computer screen.

My pregnancy was unplanned and the shock of my life.  It also has been a piece of cake so far.  At times, I’ve even felt guilty when I see and know of pregnant women who are struggling with sickness, puking their guts up,  hooked to IV’s, dehydrated because they can’t keep anything down.  I know that God has granted me good health during this time. 

I enjoy being pregnant.  After I passed through the initial shock and the acceptance stage, I have discovered  that being pregnant is an awesome experience.  When people ask me how I am feeling, I tell them I feel great, but what I really want to say, but don’t for fear of sounding hokey is, “I feel honored”.  And I do.  This is truly an honor to be chosen to carry a baby.  To know that I am working with God to create a miracle, if for only a short time.  To look at the night sky, at the vast expanse of stars, aware that the planet I live on is a tiny mass in a  small galaxy in a huge universe.  And I, an insignificant, minute speck, have been chosen to carry this one little being, this little combination of me and my dear husband, to nurture it, and sustain it.  Sappy, sappy, sappy, I know.  But it’s true.

I am beginning to get a little more excited each week.  My belly is starting to noticeably grow, and I love to lay on my back and press on my abdomen and feel that hard little ball of cells and organs, and imagine it slowly and miraculously developing into this being with fingers and toes and a little button nose whom I already absolutely adore.  I can’t wait to meet him.  Or her.

Yesterday, however, I received a call from the doctor’s office and it rattled me to the core.  At my last appointment, I had an optional blood test done called an AFPTetra.  It screens for certain abnormalities like Spina Bifida, Down’s Syndrome, and Trisomy 18, and tests to see if I’m a carrier of cystic fibrosis.  All the screens came back negative, except one.  Down’s Syndrome.  This does NOT mean our sweet baby has Down’s Syndrome.  It is only an indication that it is at an increased risk.  I’m sitting at the “advanced maternal age” of 36, and based on that,  it appears I have a 1:198 possibility it could have Down Syndrome.  Based on the test, however, I have a 1:75 chance.  This test has been known to worry and fret a lot of women, all for naught.  It’s only an indicator of risk, not a confirmation.  The test is notorious for false positives and more often than not, the baby is just fine. But even knowing all that, I experienced my first  tearful, worrisome night as a mother.   I cried, I fretted, I imagined, I planned, I prayed and prayed and prayed. 

Next Thursday I will visit a genetic specialist who will give me a consultation and an ultrasound.  The way I understand it, they will look for certain “markers” of Down Syndrome during the ultrasound.  It also can not confirm the baby has it, only an amniocentisis can do that.

It’s an extremely scary, uncertain time for us all.   My loved ones are praying and reassuring me that everything will be fine, and I desperately want to believe that.  My heart, my hope, and my faith is shaken right now.  But one thing I know:  God is good, all the time.  All good things come from Him.  I know that this precious baby is fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together, with all his days ordained.  I know that God will never give us more than we can bear.  I know that this baby may not have been planned by Jason and I, but it was planned by Him, and is loved immensely already,  no matter.   

We will hold tight to our faith and not allow the devil to cause fear and panic into our hearts. 

The scriptures I’ve been focusing on are: 

Proverbs 3:5—Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all thine ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. 

Isaiah 41:10—Do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

2 Timothy 1:7 For you have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.

Psalm 121—I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
   where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.

 3 He will not let your foot slip—
   he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
   will neither slumber nor sleep.

 5 The LORD watches over you—
   the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
   nor the moon by night.

 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
   he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
   both now and forevermore.

 ~Angel

 

Posted in Uncategorized

School Days

The posters are hung, the pencils are sharpened, and the acetaminophen  is stocked.   Although there isn’t the slightest nip of fall in the air, the calendar confirms that school begins tomorrow here in West Texas.
Elementary Teachers all around my area have laminated, cut, pasted, and labeled until their fingertips bleed.
Although the calendar confirms it, and the preparations have been made, somehow  it just hasn’t felt real for me. 

I haven’t had the nightmares.   Each year I have them.  They come to me in the few nights before school begins.   The terrifying night terrors of unpreparedness for the first day of school, filled with a room full of uncontrollable children, monsters you might call them.  The empty stack of uncopied papers haunts me,  the incomplete lesson plan book stares blankly at me. The sheer feeling of panic and inadequateness that accompanies these nightmares almost undoes me.

Despite the early morning alarms, the week long inservice, and the ever growing class list,  it hasn’t  felt like the beginning of school until last night.   Last night I was visited in my dreams by children who are too old for my grade, too many students, not enough desks, and what’s with the boy playing the electric drumset in the middle of the classroom who won’t listen to me screaming at him to stop?

And then there’s my feet. Even without the nightmares, they are the tell-tale sign that it is the start of school. No matter how comfy the tennis shoes are, when you go from sitting around swatting flies all summer to actual work, you just can’t help but catch a little flack from the old dogs.

Nightmares and throbbing feet.  There is no more denying that the first day of school is upon me.

Thank goodness for my husband. He’s cooking burgers tonight, bless his heart.   My feet are propped mightily on the couch pillows, bless their hearts.

   Multifunction Foot Spa MassagerAnd my dreams tonight will be filled with the longings of foot baths with bubbling hot water and lavender bath salts combined with massaging action in three different intensities.   I might even invent an Asian man named Dong who possesses great hands. 

What? A girl can dream can’t she?

Posted in Stories by my dad

In Memory of My Dad #26

On a languid winter afternoon, hound dogs howl a mournful alarm at a visitors casual intrusion upon the Atkins Antiques barn a few miles south of Archer City, Texas.

The dogs take their afternoon nap under the porch of the fading paint flecked building, and are often called upon to sound the call to arms which includes a lot of barking and then an apologetic wagging tail before returning to their slumber.

Atkins Antiques was a ramshackle place that could sell you an Amarillo city bus that made its last run down Polk street, or an ice cream wagon made from an abandoned golf cart, or a bulldozer or a bent horseshoe.

Bud Atkins, 68, who owns the shop doesn’t mind all the modern intrusions, he is a man of all seasons.  Wearing starched Levi’s and a pearlsnap western shirt, he stands amid all the record albums, racks of old books and magazines, stacks of eight track tapes, old leather footballs, spurs that date back to the eighteenth century, mannequins, old paintings and a plethora of heavy iron tools.

“One time I had an old anchor here, it was probably two, three hundred years old, weighed about 700 pounds, some college boys from South Carolina bought it.  Don’t know how they got it home,” says Atkins.  People call me a junker, but every time I buy something, it becomes valuable.  Funny, ain’t it?”

The place sits on three acres of land, the Texas flatland.  The flatland stretches endlessly to the far horizon and this 90’s version of Sanford and Son hardly seems big enough to hold all the treasures accumulated over 35 years of junking.

Winter Texans browse through the property in search of items that symbolize Texas.  They come from Oklahoma, New York, Nebraska, New Jersey and elsewhere.  “I’ve been coming to this place since the early 80’s,” says one elderly man.  “There’s more mysteries here than the Holy Bible.”

The shop is awash with quirky items, like a small ceramic monkey perching atop a stack of books and holding a human skull and while scratching his head as if to ponder his very existence.  A caged light fixture near the front door with strangely stuffed rodents adorning the inside and outside of the cage and a rat with an extraordinary long tail.

Atkins, wears a black cowboy hat with a bigfoot logo pinned to the side.  He speaks slowly and laughs readily, as if sitting on a good joke.  He has a mental Rolodex of his own jokes, if others fail.

Atkins recalls when he and his brother inherited the house moving business from his father.  The brothers decided to expand the business into buying and selling furniture and antiques from estate sales.  The brothers split up in 1969—they weren’t mad or anything, they just decided they wanted to own their own separate businesses.

Cynthia Speer, an elderly lady from Oklahoma City, and her husband have come to the Antique Barn for the past twenty years.  They never fail to be amazed at what they find in the shoppe.

“One time I found an old campaign button here—about 15 years ago.  It was an old FDR button.  I bought it for about $5, and this friend of mine said it was actually worth several hundred dollars, but I wouldn’t sell it for anything,” she said.  “You can’t find things like that anywhere, it’s amazing.”

Among the items at the Atkins Antique Shop is a February 30, 1936 issue of Collier’s Magazine that sold for forty cents and a first volume edition of the music of Jerome Kern, with his legendary rendition of hits like “On Top of Old Smokey” and a song that the Platters made famous in the late fifties, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”

Record albums of long ago sport icons of yesterday.  There’s Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” and a collection of recordings from a native of the big bend country, Freddy Fender.

“You never know what you’re going to find here in this crazy place,” says Atkins, fielding a question from another winter Texas.  “We’ll buy anything just so long as it’s old and interesting.”

Atkins pointed to a display case that had an empty bottle with the letters “OJ” embossed on the outside, “that doesn’t have anything at all to do with O.J. Simpson, I just recently found the bottle, I do have his football card and a  book on Simpson though.  By the way have you been watching the trial?”   Just goes to show you, you can’t get away from the trial even in central Texas.

Written by Bob Briggs April 1, 1995

Posted in Stories by my dad

In Memory of My Dad #25

Being a teacher myself, I found great joy in reading this story written by my dad on July 8, 1995.  How many of you have similar tales?

Why our little community was named “Briggs” by early settlers has been lost in the annals of time, but I was always ready and able to come up with a story as to why in my imaginative mind.

Briggs sits about three miles west of Eldon and about six miles east of Tahlequah on Highway 62.  Briggs lies on a relatively flat piece of ground not far from the Illinois River.  The pride and crowning glory of the community was Briggs School.

The school was a three-room affair, very small by today’s standards.  The first room took care of the first and second grades, and I’m happy to report my first grade teacher was a lovely young thing called Miss Jewell.  She was wonderful—pretty, young, and she smelled good.  What more could you ask for in a teacher?

I loved her so much that I had a hard time lining up with the others on my graduation from the second grade for a good-bye hug.  I remember running home and grabbing a huge piece of chocolate cake and going to bed to console myself with food.  (Having followed this practice religiously throughout my life, I can tell you that it’s a lot less expensive and easier on the body than tranquilizers and whiskey.) 

We were graduating on to the next room—a room filled with third, fourth and fifth graders, grizzled veterans of the school of higher learning.  Some said we were to find out what schooling was all about.  I had some trepidation about leaving the confines of Miss Jewell’s room because the third, fourth and fifth was taught by the toughest, meanest human being ever to embrace professional education.  It was gut check time.

We loved to hate this loathsome creature to whom the best-read of us referred to as “Miss Lizzie” (of Lizzie Borden fame) because it was rumored that she had hacked a couple of her charges to death.  In those days teachers chastised their students any way they saw fit, short of capital punishment and we weren’t sure that Miss Lizzie didn’t have special dispensation from the pope to invoke the death penalty.

Her favorite way of dispensing torture was to pull your hair.  And believe me it hurt.  Most of the denizens of the third, fourth or fifth grade had their mane rearranged by Miss Lizzie.  I myself had a head full of lovely brunette curls that seemed to daily catch the wrath of Miss Lizzie.

We had a couple of boys in the fifth grade who should have been in the 10th or 11th grade, but they had missed a lot of school time due to such things as hauling hay or driving a tractor.  These were just good old boys, meaner than junkyard dogs, and the rest of Miss Lizzie’s third, fourth, and fifth graders followed them slavishly down the path to wickedness.

Toward the last day of school, one of these guys came up with a foolproof plan which he felt in all probability would kill Miss Lizzie.  If it didn’t kill her, it would undoubtably result in her spending her remaining days in Eastern State Hospital at Vinita.  (He no doubt spent many hours praying about it, and received an answer from above.)  In those days breakdowns were not all that uncommon in the field of education.  As a matter of fact, they are not all that uncommon today.

Now the success of this plan hinged greatly on the fact that Miss Lizzie had made a deal with one of the few traitors in school to bring her a pint of raw milk each day to augment her sack lunch.  This was in the days before the school lunch program reared its ugly head.  Most of the kids had milk cows at home, but I would have rotted in Hades before I would have brought this teacher any kind of sustenance.

One day at recess the leader of this foul gang of reprobates filled us in on the plan.  It was beautiful—simplicity in motion, and in our own little black hearts we knew it could not fail.

The entire three grades were sworn to secrecy and the TREATMENT as we liked to call our project was to go into effect on April first.

On day one of the TREATMENT one of the older boys who thought of the scheme, surreptitiously dropped a small pebble into the milk.  Miss Lizzie choked and sputtered a bit, but she got the milk down and couldn’t proved a thing.

The traitor that delivered the milk was told to report the incident to her parents, who assured Miss Lizzie that they would be more careful in the future. 

Day two was a little worse, two roly-poly bugs were put into her milk, and while she was attacking our hair, one of the perpetrators removed the bugs, so she had no further proof.

Day three saw the end of the TREATMENT, and God help me, it was beautiful.  When Miss Lizzie opened the lid to the mason jar, she spied a small mouse frantically doing the breast stroke, trying to escape.

As we say in the hills, she cut and ran, straight to the principal’s office and fell into his arms babbling incoherently.

We liked the new teacher well enough, except for the part of writing Miss Lizzie get well notes up to Eastern State.  Finally we had to stop that because she kept screaming something about rodents in her milk and making a complete mess of the room by tearing the notes into a million pieces.

Our hearts soared at that bit of news.

Bob Briggs
January 16, 1943-February 26, 2011

Posted in Faith

The Whisperings of God

Each morning I take a 30 minute walk.  Except when it’s raining; which is never.  During that time of awakening my bones and joints, I lift my eyes up and talk to God and He oftentimes awakens my spirit.  Some mornings, it’s just me talking to the wind and the sky, but once in a blue moon, I hear him whisper back to me.  It might  just be in the sunrise or the birds singing, but I hear it just the same and a deep calm covers me.  It’s the only way I make it through this world somedays.

On Tuesday during our visit, I was a bit whiney.  I was focused on the dry conditions and asking for rain.  And in my desperate spirit I told him I felt like he’d forgotten about us.  Was he listening?  Did he care? 

He didn’t respond.

Yet.

But afterwards during my morning facebook ritual, I read a post by my friend Chantelle.  And although it was her typing the words, and although the words came from Restoration Place Ministries Word, it was HIM speaking to me.  And this is what he said.

I Am restoring the things that were assigned to your hands by Me. I call forth destiny over you. The things that seemed to be delayed are now ready to be released. There have been moments when you felt downcast, you thought that I had passed you by. Look up into My eyes today & be refreshed. Look & see the provisions. Look & see the outcome; I will triumph in you. You will see great victory for this battle belongs to Me. I own it; it is Mine.

Reading that, it could apply to a million different scenarios that you might be facing.  But to me, it spoke RAIN.  It spoke showers of blessings.  I said “Thank You Lord.  You haven’t forgotten about us.” 

That evening, JDub and I drove over to a neighboring town for some business and supper.  During supper, my mom called to tell me that it was pouring rain.  The power was out.  The rain was coming down in sheets.  The wind was howling.  Sure enough, facebook was exploding with pictures from the townfolk of the rain, the winds, rushing water down the streets, and children playing in the gutters afterwards.  It was awesome. 

Although we missed the storm, we certainly saw its aftermath.  It was a storm, I tell you.  Out here at our place, a tree had fallen over into the barbed wire fence, my lawn furniture was a tangled mess blown across the yard, and  my niece’s little playhouse was in about 20 pieces strewn across the pasture.  When we moved here, there was a little structure left that appeared to be built for a child’s fort.  My nieces took to it, hammering it, painting, it, decorating it.  But it is no longer.  Ash doesn’t seem to be too upset about it, which is good.  She is the optimistic one who says maybe we can build a new one.

We received 8 tenths of an inch according to our raingauge, but other places reported an inch to an inch and a half.  And now this morning, as I sit in my dark living room typing, I hear the thunder rolling, I see lightening flashing, and raindrops are hitting the rooftops and windows.  The things that seemed to be delayed are now ready to be released.  Praise be to the Restorer!  God’s promises remain.  And I’m standing on them.

Have a beautiful day wherever you are.  Look for your blessings and you’ll find them.

Love,

Angel