Noughts and Crosses

Yesterday I popped off about teaching my chicken to beat me at tic tac toe. Maybe you didn’t pay attention to that comment or maybe you snickered or maybe you thought I was making stuff up.

When J-Dub mentioned playing tic tac toe against a chicken one time at a fair, I figured he was full of bologna.  Which is standard fighting in our household. 

Most of our wedded arguments are dumb factual duels in which he’s claiming truth to something like tic tac toe playing chickens, while I’m shaking my head at him, my mouth pursed in a determined grimace,  my eyebrows creased, until he shouts “GOOGLE IT”!   In which, afterwards, I must feign an apology and proclaim him the know it all of the universe, and then rub his feet.

Tic tac toe playing chickens do exist. Not only do they play tic tac toe, they win. 

Currently, there are chickens playing Noughts and Crosses, as it used to be called,  in casinos across the country. For 25 to 50 cents you can get beat by a chicken and leave with your ego bruised.   These chickens are in a box like contraption, pushing buttons with lights next to them.  Evidently they are trained with positive reinforcement.  Give them a little chicken feed when they push the right button and they’ll play for hours.  And win lots of quarters.

Having a trained chicken intrigues me.  Not to make money of course, just to show off my chicken to friends and family and of course school children. 

 I’m wondering if Freedom has it in her to be an Xs and Os champeen.

What else might she be capable of? 

The options are endless. 

The sky’s the limit.

If only I had an inordinate amount of time. 

And a really smart chicken.

Crazy Chicken Lady

While others are being entertained by Monday night TV programming, I am entertained by a chicken.

My husband has nicknamed me The Crazy Chicken Lady.

I don’t care.  Sticks and stones and all that jazz.

Although videography is not my forte, and I am using my phone, and there is a red light in the box making the video hard to view, this is just a snippet of how almost every free waking minute of mine is spent.

I’m easily entertained.

And a little bit crazy.

Signs of Morning

Morning Time is quickly becoming my favorite time of day.

I can easily say this today, on a Sunday.

More specifically the Sunday after I’ve had 8 days off of work.

Maybe tomorrow morning I won’t feel the same.  Tomorrow.  The dreaded Monday.  More specifically, the first day back to work.  The first day back to work after Spring Break.  The first day back to work after Spring Break and Daylights Savings Time.  The first day back to work where instead of driving 10 seconds to get to work, I must drive 10 miles.

But this Sunday morning was glorious, and I can easily say it was my favorite time of day.

Where I now live, in the mornings, the cows in the neighbor’s pasture lumber their way, softly mooing as they go,  to a barbed wire fence to stare down this county road.  J-Dub says they’re waiting for the neighbor’s feed truck, but I have yet to see it arrive.

Hoping for breakfast.

But their curiosity of me and my camera gets the better of them.

In the mornings, the birds sing softly.  I gaze towards the telephone poles and the fence lines looking for them, but never find them. 

As you can see, there aren’t many trees to perch in.  They must be hiding in the grasses, raising their song of hope towards the heavens.


In the mornings, the grass is a little wet from the dew and the fresh breezes gently blow, refreshing me.

In the mornings, I set my coffee cup in the pasture so I can operate my camera.  And the horse poses for his portrait.

In the mornings, the sun warms the blossoms of the fruit trees, giving hope of new life.  And sweet apricots.

Mornings are filled with hope. 

Hope of new beginnings. 

Hope of fresh starts. 

Hope of happy days to come.

Happy Spring!

The Moon

“I see the moon, 

And the moon sees me.

God bless the moon,

And God bless me.”

I went to feed my dogs last night and I caught a glimpse of it.  Of course my camera and photography skills can not do it justice.

I was looking through the oak trees and it was shrouded in clouds and carried a spooky air.

“He covers the face of the moon, spreading his clouds over it.” Job 26:9

It reminded me of a graveyard scene my sister drew when she was in the fifth grade that I copied.  Stone cold graves carved with RIP resting on hills underneath thin clouds floating across the moon.  My picture wasn’t as good as hers.  My hills were too humpy.  My clouds were too puffy.

In this picture above, I changed the setting on my camera to “night” and it lit up the foreground, giving it a different look.

This morning when I awoke, my bedroom was cast with the light from the moon.  But really the moon has no light of it’s own, only a reflection from the sun.  It’s a little deceiving isn’t it?  I took this picture this morning.  The moon wasn’t as close, just a pinpoint in the sky.

Funny how things so big can appear so small.

When you’re lonesome and missing someone, do you gaze at the moon and does it remind you that it is smiling on both you and the one you’re missing?

Even though the world is so large, and the miles are so vast, the moon gathers the two of you under it’s light and holds you in the same place and time.

Unless of course the one you’re missing is across the world, then it’s daylight over there, and this whole romantic notion is ppppffffffttttttt.


When I consider your heavens,
   the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
   which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
   human beings that you care for them?

Psalm 8:3-4

Have a wonderful full-moon Friday.

Goulash, Grandparents, and Regret

Last night I attempted cooking, which in and of itself is a feat.  I can honestly say, of the things I have been complimented, cooking is not one of them.  There are people who are renowned simply for being a good cook.  If their name comes up in conversation, people’s eyes roll back in their heads as they utter the words, “oh, she’s a good cook, Have you ever tried her carrot cake, she can make the best homemade rolls I’ve ever tasted.”  Etcetera, etcetera. Blah, blah.

Not me.  Okay.  It’s not something I’ve ever learned to do or really enjoyed doing.

Last night, my little drummer boy husband grabbed his drumsticks and headed out to play a  gig, so it was just me and my niece Ashlynn at home. 

I wanted goulash.  J-Dub doesn’t like goulash, but I love it.  Mind you, I’ve only ever had one person’s goulash in my entire life, and that was my grandmother’s.  If she ever used recipes for cooking, I haven’t the foggiest as to where to locate those.  So when I searched the internet for recipes similar to her goulash, I was met with an assortment of crap.  Crap, I tell you. 

Obviously, goulash is a Hungarian dish, not a southern poor man’s dish as I always thought.  The  recipes called for ingredients that I’m sure my Grannie never had in her pantry at any time, like Rotel for instance.

So I text my sister, and she immediately texts back with a bunch of rigmarole ingredients for so-called “Grannie’s Goulash”. 

I had an idea that she was crazy.  Mustard really?  So I called my Aunt Bert (my Grannie’s daughter).  She thought it was a little this, and a little that, and maybe some of this. 

Well that seemed closer, but it just wasn’t good enough for me.  I need a recipe!!!  I need to know how much of this and that. I operate in teaspoons and tablespoons, people.

I returned to the internet, and googled Southern goulash.  Recipes popped up with okra in them.   Who in the world puts okra in their goulash???? Huh?  Huh?  Just answer me that.   Next I googled Old-fashioned goulash.    Marjoram and tomato soup?  Puh-lease!!! 

Then when my frustrations were at an all time high, and my stomach was growling, I got the crazy notion to google my grandmother’s name and goulash.  Just hoping maybe, just maybe, someone had published a long-lost recipe of her goulash. 

And to my surprise, that brought up absolutely nothing. 

Except it led me to an ancestry site. 

So my search for goulash took an unexpected turn to ancestry on my mother’s side.    And I’m fascinated.  I’ve never given much thought to my ancestors, but now that I’m getting older, my brain is changing, along with my priorities, and I’m understanding  the impact of my lineage. 

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of “old” family.  There are people my same age, who grew up with a great-grandmother, a great-great grandmother even, but not me.  I’ve only ever had grandmothers.  My great grandparents died before I came into this world, and I never even knew a grandfather.  Sad huh?  I guess my people died young, or procreated old, and too many years are in-between.

I’ve heard my Grannie talk about her parents, but I’d forgotten their names until last night when they started showing up on my computer screen.  Suddenly they became real people, with dreams, and love for one another, and hopes, and journeys, and trials. 

Just like me. 

Now I wish when I sat in the TV room with my Grannie,  while she rattled on with stories I’d heard before, about people who were cold in the ground, with events that were unimportant to my teenage ears, that instead of slumping over in my chair and wishing she’d stop droning on, that I’d had a cell phone with voice recorder, a video recorder,  a tape recorder, shoot even a pencil and pad and would have written down her stories.  But of course, I never thought they’d matter to me. 

How foolish we are in our youth.

Since I’ve begun blogging, I’ve been forced to dip into my memory banks.  Often I find them empty or half erased, and I must fill them in with how I believe it must have been.  Was I wearing tennis shoes in that blizzard, or were they high heeled show girl boots like my dad remembers? 

I have stories to tell, people to remember, events to unfold.  Other people may not care about them, but I do.

“You and your husband might have looked out the same kitchen window for twenty years, your eyes might be as green as  your uncle Harry’s, but twenty bucks says you don’t see the world as they do.  Start writing to save your life.  Stories only happen to those who can tell them.”—-Lou Willett Stanek



And then others must remember them, and in turn, tell them.

My great -grandfather Eugene “Gene” Ira married my great-grandmother Emma Olive (oh my gosh I love that name) and had 2 daughters, Mary and Imogene, my grandmother. 

I want to talk to those people.  I want to talk to them real bad.  I imagine their black and white faces, their frumpy clothes, their aprons, their weathered hands.  They were tough.  They had to be. I want to hear their stories, and share their stories.  It’s like instantly, I realize I am on this earth, in part because of these people. 

They are MY people.  

My great-grandparents:

Eugene “Gene”  Ira: Aug 22, 1883-Jan 15, 1966  Age. 81

Emma Olive:  Dec 7, 1879- Aug 7, 1911 Age 32

My grandmother Imogene, whose name came from her dad Gene and her mom Emma loved me, cherished me, delighted in me and made the best goulash of which I can not recreate.

And me?

I’ve forgotten her stories.

 Stories only happen to those who can tell them.

The Memory of a Sound

I recently purchased this magazine.
I say recently, but it was way back in 2010.

I have no idea why I would purchase a magazine called Do it yourself, since I don’t do anything myself.  There must have been something that caught my eye on the cover, but now…..who knows? This is one of those mags that if you have nothing to do all day except create adorableness from egg shells and paper, this is your heaven.

It does have some extremely cute crafts in it.


See, I even dog-eared this page on crafting with felt.  Felt makes me happy.  Not that there’s even a remote chance I’ll be frolicking with felt in the future.


This is an old railroad tie used as a mantle.  I love it.  We have a similar piece of rustic roughness found in an old building that we are going to use as a mantle in our little trailer house on the prairie.  Maybe in 23 more years or so.

But the point of this whole post is this:

These canisters.

My old grannie had an ugly-as-sin, avocado green tin canister just exactly like the one in the back of this picture.

It sat on her countertop next to the stove, and she sometimes stored goodies such as homemade peanut butter cookies in it.

I remember stealthily trying to lift the lid off to sneak a cookie or treat.  The “swoosh” of the lid coming off the canister echos in my head.  I would try not to make a sound, and inevitably always would pling, plang, and gong one against the other, giving myself away.  Like sneezing during a game of hide-and-seek.    

Sometime during my childhood, we got a new step cousin in the family.  He wasn’t one of us, and I remember treating him as an outsider.  When memories like these flood back, I always try to blame my sister.  But truthfully, I don’t know who was the instigator of being harsh with him.  It could’ve been my idea, or my cousin’s (his step-brother) or my sister’s, regardless I remember the four of us being outside huddled under a tree, being ugly to our new family member and telling him that “WE (the privileged real grandchildren) knew our grannie’s secret hiding place for goodies and that he had better be nice or we wouldn’t let him know.”

I wish I could go back under that tree and change that conversation.  I hope he doesn’t remember.  I’m ashamed.

Seeing these burnt orange canisters in a magazine stirred something inside me.  I asked my mom, who now lives in my grannie’s old house, if she knew where that avocado green canister was.  She said it was around there someplace.  Then about one week later, I received a call, and lo and behold, the little criminal she has living with her (another story for another time) was cleaning out the garage and it turned up. 

Here it is.  On my kitchen countertop by my stove. 

It’s not in as good of condition as the orange ones in the magazines. 

Why I have this in my house, in my blue and yellow kitchen, is something that I must explore deep within my soul.  And maybe discuss with my therapist, which happens to be Marie, my school librarian. 

Why, when I am desperately trying to simplify and minimalize, did I bring this old junky, unfashionable, semi-unpractical item out from the dust and mire of a dirty garage to sit purposeless on my already cluttered kitchen counter? 

Why do I sometimes go to my kitchen for no other reason but to lift the lid just so I can hear the pling from my childhood? 

I know why. 

It’s so I can see my grannie sitting in her chair with a poodle on her lap. 

 Or standing at the kitchen counter pressing out the peanut butter cookies.  She would let me mash on the cookie dough with a meat tenderizer to create the little indented designs and then sprinkle sugar on top when they came out of the oven, soft and warm.

I’m suddenly having a peanut butter cookie hankering.

And I need a tissue.

Five Reasons Not to Have a Blogging Buddy

Five days ago  an idea for bloggers to pair up with a blogging buddy went out over the world wide web via wordpress, the site that hosts this blog.  This is an effort to motivate, uplift, and encourage bloggers to keep up with the commitment they have made to blog in 2011.  Much like an exercise buddy who will hold you accountable, unless you are both weak-willed and convince each other ice-cream and beer sounds better than jumping jacks and bicep curls.  Within minutes of this post, bloggers from around the world were holding hands and skipping in circles.  I stood on the edge of this online playground, watching the happy bloggers, scared to get in the game for fear of rejection or dashed hopes.  

I am approaching this like everything else I approach in life, with fearful trepidation.  This idea of a blogging buddy both intriques me, yet scares me.  I did a little pondering and came up with a few reasons why I’m still sitting on the swings while everyone else is playing kick-ball.

Five reasons I’m scared of having a blogging buddy:

1.  I’m afraid they won’t  be committed.  They might say at first they are going to post a blog daily, but are they still going to be as enthusiastic come May 17th?

2.  I’m afraid I’ll end up with a moron.  You know, someone who can’t use there, their, and they’re appropriately.  I might have to let loose my inner teacher on them.

3.  I’m afraid I’ll get a buddy who thinks Jesus is a fake.  Then I’ll have to worry about their soul in addition to their blogging. 

4.  I’m afraid my buddy will be a completely superficial fashion blogger who will tempt me to buy new clothes of which I’ve decided I am buying no new clothes in 2011.  I am simplifying my wardrobe, not adding to it.

5.  I’m afraid I’ll have nothing in common with my buddyand won’t be able to intelligently respond to his posts about nuclear war heads and/or guitar riffs.

Again today I searched through the 800 plus comments of people wanting blogging buddies.  I clicked on a couple of blogs that I found interesting, but alas they disappointed.  Perhaps I’m  taking this a little too seriously.  Afterall,  this is a blogging buddy, it’s not eHarmony.  I don’t have to marry this person, just read their blogs for Pete’s sake.  But I’ve been on bad dates before, and my past experiences  are reminding me how painful this blogging buddy experience might turn out to be.  There is still 11 and a half months left in the year.  Eleven and a half months to blog daily and encourage someone else to as well.  

But I faced my fears today and went ahead and walked out onto the playground.  I’m five days late but  I put myself out there to see if I could still get in the game. 

This is my post.

Hello, I’ve been perusing on this site some, trying to find my “perfect” match.  I’ve been  blogging daily, even when it’s hard, even when I don’t want to, even when I’m super busy, and I want someone who appreciates and possesses the same commitment.  My blog is and it is about my life as a fumbling earthling.  I tell stories mostly, try to make people laugh once in a blue moon, and blog about simplifying my life.   I would like  a blogging buddy, but to be perfectly honest,  I’m scared of getting paired up with a moron or someone who lacks commitment, or someone who we later find out we have nothing in common.   So please, if you want to choose me, don’t break my heart 🙂


Appealing, isn’t it?  This might help to understand why I didn’t marry until age 29. 

I’ll keep you posted.

The Seinfeld Post—a post about nothing

I’ve accepted a challenge by WordPress, the site where I blog.  They are challenging bloggers to either post once a week or once a day in the year 2011.

I am going for the once a day posting challenge.  It’s a biggie.  Especially considering how long it takes me to write one of these boogers.   

I missed the very first day of the year.  Which technically means I failed before I even started, but I am going to perservere anyway. I may be a failure but I ain’t no quitter.

Now its January 5th, Day #5, and guess what?  I’m out of ideas.  I got nothing.  I have nothing to write and a sneaking suspicion this might be a long year.  Yesterday evening, after I pushed publish on my last blog, I closed my laptop feeling very insecure about my post, and thought  It’s a good thing noone is ever coming back to read anything I’ve ever written, because I have nothing more to say. 

Nevertheless I’ve accepted this challenge, I want to do it,  and I need to post something daily.  Something with a little substance.

All day I’ve been thinking about a topic. 

WordPress is putting out ideas over at, so I hopped over there for some inspiration.  Today’s topic is “Are you stressed out right now?  If so , why or why not”  Uh, yeah, I kinda, sorta don’t have an idea for a blog the 5th day into a challenge. 

Next I thought I might do a Wordless Wednesday post like other bloggers do, where they just post a picture and no words at all.  But I can’t, I tried that before.  And I just can’t say nothing.

But if I was going to do a Wordless Wednesday post, which I’m obviously not, here is the picture I would use.

But I can’t post a picture like this and not explain it.  It’s just not right.

This was taken on Thanksgiving Day.  My mom was cooking and we all gathered up at her house.  It was a pretty large crowd and one must admit, it is hard to cook for a large crowd especially when the cook is out of practice, has adult ADHD, and is displaying the early stages of Alzheimers.  I LOVE YOU MOM!!

Authors Note:   Okay so right now I must pause in writing and tell you, if my mom ever reads this, which she probably won’t because she’s forgotten I even have a blog, but if she does, I will need protection from her immediately.   I will pack my bags, move to a remote location and not leave a forwarding address.  If I make it out alive.  I’m scared.

Back to the story.  My mom was a bit frazzled, all with the turkey being undercooked, forgetting the ham,  not having enough chairs for everyone,  the broken plate and the spilled tea.    So when I saw a cigarette on the rolls, and my mom being  the only smoker in the house, I thought Holy Cow, she’s gone over the edge now.  There’s no turning back.  Call in the white coats.  Haul her to the loony bin. 

But she denied doing it.  That was not me, she claimed. 

She was adament about her innocence.  I would NOT have done something like that

Now mind you, this is the same woman who drove off and left my niece ordering a milkshake at  Jay’s Drive-In the other day and didn’t realize she’d left her until she got home, then had to rush back only to find her leaning against the bricks sucking on her straw with not a worry in the world.  So laying a cigarette on a dinner roll and walking off seemed very plausible to me.

So I was all like, mom you probably just forgot.  Who else would have done it?

And here I must give my mom a little credit.  It wasn’t her after all.  She was right.  She would not have done something like that.  Of course she wouldn’t.  The heathen children later confessed (after torture and beatings) that it was them.  They were playing pranks on the grown-ups.  They felt we needed some revenge after forcing them to sit at Mr. Tiny’s table, which in itself is a whole ‘nother story.


Here are three of them shaking their fists at us just because we forgot they existed and didn’t have a  table or chairs for them.  I don’t know why they’re complaining.   Children never get to sit at the grown up table during the holidays.  It’s like the law or something.


Here’s something funny that happened today.  I was teaching my classroom full of second graders that I adore.     There is not a single child in there that I want to hog tie and gag.  Not one.  We’re studying weather patterns and the water cycle.  So I ask the question, “Who can tell me the four seasons?” 

And one of my boys blurts out, “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”

Thoughts on a Sunday

November 21

Today brought me the challenge of finding a sitting, reading, writing place outside where it was sunny and calm.  But if the spot had sunshine, it also had wind, and if the spot was wind-blocked, it was also sun-blocked.  I settled for sun combined with wind and I made due.  But as I struggled holding down my pages with one hand, and constantly tucking hair behind my ear with the other, I couldn’t keep the thoughts of Lizzie Borden at bay.


I laid across the bed of a wagon filled with scrap metal and let the sun warm my face.  I closed my eyes and when I opened them, it was as if I was looking at the sky for the first time ever.  I don’t recall it ever looking so blue.

Jason pulled up to catch the horses.  He didn’t even notice me sprawled on that wagon of junk.  The cows in the next pasture lined the fence to stare and watch the action of horses avoiding harnesses.  The horses lost.  They were loaded into a trailer and driven off.  One by one the cows grew bored and dispersed to munch the grasses.  I wonder why the phrase isn’t “curiosity killed the cow”?


I haven’t seen the cat for several days.  Why do I have a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach that she is flattened underneath one of the seven huge round hay bales that are lined up like soldiers in front of the house?  All except one is in formation.  I imagine a sargeant in its face yelling.  But the day is too nice for screaming.


I can’t wait until this trailer is in a completed state.  I could be working to make that possible, but after all it is Sunday. 

Happy Resting.

My Pond

One summer my niece and I went on a pond tour hosted by the local lawn and garden club.  The Pond Tour consists of people who are gifted in all things aquatic and horticultural (Warning:  Big Word Day) to open their back yards, front yards, rock gardens, and water gardens up to the public to tour.  Hence the name:  Pond Tour.  Come on Angel, don’t make this harder than it is. 

I was instantly enamored with ponds.  So I had to have one.  My husband, who hates all things aquatic and horticultural, except for wheat and hay and windmill tanks, was not agreeable.  If I recall, the conversation went something like this:

Me:  (sweetly) (batting eyelashes)  Honey, I’d really like to have a pond.  And I’ve thought about it, and I think it would look really great right here next to the fence.  And I’m going to put some green plants around it, and ivy, and we can have some Koi fish in it, and rocks around it, and lily pads.  All I need you to do is dig it out, lay the liner, run the water lines, and arrange the rocks.  What do you think?

Him:  (not so sweetly)  Are you out of your bleepity, bleep, bleepity, bleeping mind?

Okay, I exaggerated the bleeps.  There were only 3.

Or maybe only 2.
Or really none.  But the truth is he did think I was nuts.

To make a long story short, I don’t have a pond.  But much like the wizard who couldn’t grant brains and courage but rather diplomas and medals, Jason granted me what he could.

I don’t have a pond, but what I do have, is a whiskey barrel (which was extremely hard to acquire and my sister had to bring it all the way from New Mexico, and by the way Jo, your checks in the mail for that, thanks!), a pump, and two goldfish.  It’s just as good as a pond, maybe even better.
It’s called “a water feature”  Doesn’t that sound better than a whiskey barrel?  And it won’t be on the pond tour anytime soon.
We started out with four itty bitty goldfish. One died of shock. And one died from being sucked up the pump and spit onto the rocks in tiny bits of fin, scales and eyeballs. So only two remain. Survival of the fittest, that’s what it’s about. These two survivors must be of the same sex because we’ve never had any offspring, or if we did they feasted on them.

 Once my bratty sweet nieces commandeered my camera and took quite a few poses.  These were among them.

We’ve had these little goldfish for a couple of years now. And I’m downright proud of that fact.  We bought them a submersible heater for the winter months.  We remember to feed them everyday.  They’ve become a part of our lives.  I might even go so far as to call them fishy members of the family.  Well, they were fishy members of the family. 
Right up until this last winter storm came through.
And their heater broke. 
And their whiskey barrel home froze over. 
And anguish filled my soul, fear that my fish friends had froze . So Jason put on his snow boots and treaded out to the walmarts to buy another fish heater.  He broke through the 1/2 inch of ice to put it in.  But was it too late?   Did their little cold-blooded selves freeze to death? 

This morning the great melt down has begun.

  With trepidation, I peered into the whiskey barrel. 
A little closer.  That’s a leaf on the right, not a belly up fish. 
I dug out some ice and looked a little closer.  
 Lo, what dost appeareth before mine eyes?
Could it be?  A slight movement of a fish?  Why yes, I do believe it is.
Both fish are alive and swimming. 

Survival of the “fishes”, that’s what I’m talkin about.