Friday, May 22, 2009

Buckles, the duckling

Poor little fellow, or girl (it's nigh unto impossible to tell which is which on a duckling).....he never stood a chance!! He definately was NOT one of those little creatures who lived a charmed life. I don't know what his life was like pre-Miles farm, but I know this....the day he came home with Jeren was the day his life took a turn for the worse. Now, you would think that a farm would be the perfect place for a duckling to thrive, to grown into an awesome quacker, to strut his struff!! That's a pretty reasonable thought, I'd say. Only problem is, it didn't turn out that way for Buckles, the duckling! Here's how the whole thing went down:
I am in the kitchen, trying to make order out of chaos from all the graduation celebration stuff. I'm perfectly contented, knowing that Jeren and Janelle are spending some quality sibling time together, (for those of you who don't know what that means, let me means that Janelle and Jeren were out shopping and Janelle was doing the paying!!!) and would soon be home in high spirits, ready to have a fun evening together. I'm thinking happy thoughts and bustling about, when I hear the kids come home. THEN, I hear Jeren call..."Mom, could you please come out here a minute?" My radar went into overdrive and I stood rooted to the spot for just an instant before I slowly turned and started toward the door. You see, I had heard those words, spoken with just that inflection, before.....many times.....and it was always the forerunner of things not so good!! I cautiously stepped into the doorway and saw Jeren standing on the back patio with a cardboard box in his hands and a VERY cheesy smile plastered on his face! From inside that box came the distinct sound of very loud, very frantic........quacking????? And that is when I met Buckles, the duckling that Jeren brought home from the Rural King! I've got to admit, he was about the cutest thing that I've ever seen and we bonded with him right away. He would stretch himself tall and rush all over the yard, quacking and dipping his neck as he explored his new world. We found a laundry basket for temporary housing and and old cake pan for his water. Buckles was HOME!
The first indication that Buckles was not going to lead a charmed life with us came when our Chocolate Lab, Snickers, decided that life was all about HIM! So, obviously, this duck must be meant for HIS enjoyment. He proceded to make a living sqeak-toy out of the duck, ripping the skin under his wing open in the process. It was such a bad wound that we figured Buckles could not possibly survive, but none of us was inclined just to throw him away or finish him off. So we put him in his basket with fresh water and food and went off to our scheduled activity, fully expecting the poor little guy to be dead by the time we got home. To our great surprise, and joy, not only was Buckles alive, he was thriving. We watched him closely for a few days, then decided that he was going to make it, so we had better do something a little more permanent for him. He needed to be outside in the sun and the grass where he could run around being all a duck could be! I am very good at coming up with inventions on the spur of the moment, due to my wild imagination I'm sure, so with a flatsided bucket, some fine mesh wire, 2 landscaping blocks and 3 bungee cords, I made Buckles a duck run. Little did I know that I was making him a chamber of death. He did quite well in there for the first 2 days, but when we went to check on him and give him his morning fee on the third day, we found an empty run, a ripped out bucket and deep gouges and claw marks in the dirt all around. Buckles was gone!! From the looks of the claw marks, we were pretty sure it was a raccoon that decided he looked like a tasty treat. So, Buckles the duckling was with us for only a very short time and we have decided that THIS farm is not a friendly place for critters that aren't big enough to protect themselves. The cat has claws, the dogs have fangs and the horses have hooves.......poor little Buckles only had a bill and he didn't even know how to use it yet. We're gonna miss the little quacker! He was fun while he lasted.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Best and the Worst of Christmas 2008

Our family Christmas celebrations had pretty much outlived their shelf life. Given the distance between families, the crazy schedules we all keep and the general lack of enthusiasm, getting together for Christmas had gotten about as stale as an outdated box of crackers. So, we decided to clean out the proverbial Christmas Pantry and restock the shelves with a fresh batch of celebration. We decided that our first purchase would be airline tickets to Wyoming. My oldest brother, James and his family, have lived there for over 30 years and we had never spent a Christmas with them. We visited in the summer, when the roads were free of snow and there was no threat of the highways being closed. Very safe, very warm, and very, very many miles to travel in a car. With the rising cost of fuel, we decided that flying would be a great adventure and would save us time and money in the long run, what with the price of meals and motels that we would not have to pay for. Tickets were booked and the long months of anticipation began to fly by. We notified one niece, since we needed to coordinate dates and time, but decided that part of the fun would be to just pop in and surprise everyone on Christmas Day. Finally, the day before our departure arrived and we went into a flurry of packing, laundry, cleaning, securing the horses and the dogs, and all the other last minute prep that travelling entails. As our luck would have it, we were hit with an ice storm that very night, forcing us to leave our house at midnight on Christmas Eve, to creep along to the Cincinnati Airport at 25 mph on treacherous roads. What should have been a 2 1/2 hour trip turned into a 5 1/2 hour journey of teethgrinding intensity. We did arrive early for our flight, claimed our boarding passes and settled in for a little nap before flight time. In just a little while, the waiting area began to fill up and before we knew it, we were on our way. We left Cincinnati at 8:05am on Christmas Eve and set down in Casper, Wyoming at just a little after 12:00 noon. It was a great trip, even with all the landing gear noises and turbulance. We spent the evening at my niece Debi's house, planning our big surprise for the next day and just enjoying being together with this part of the family. We slept in on Christmas day, which helped pass the time until we were to meet part of the family so they could lead is in to the little log cabin where they were having their celebration. There are 36 of them, far too many for any one of their homes. Adding us made a total of 40 loud, laughing family members, all bent on enjoying each other and the season. We did, indeed, surprise James and Lula, my brother and sister-in-love, when we walked in the door to that rustic cabin. There were tears and laughter and hugs and kisses, and more of the same. We played games, ate ourselves stupid and tried to catch up on years of lost fellowship. Talk about a fresh approach to family Christmas. It was good for all of us. We planned on extending it through the next three days, but SOMETHING threw a wrench in those works. On Friday, the day after Christmas, we met again at Debi's to play more games and eat up the leftovers. We were just getting started when the first young'ins threw up on the living room floor. We blamed it on the eating of too many shrimp and garlic-stuffed olives, but before the dawning of Saturday, more than half of us were in the throes of the stomach 'flu, with the rest to succumb by the time Sunday came. It wasn't the ending of our visit that we were anticipating, but I've got to hand it to my family. We're a great family. We share ANYTHING we get with EVERYONE we love. Whether they want it or NOT.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Traditions

I LOVE the Christmas season! I love everything about it! Most people fuss and fume over the commercialism of the season, going on and on about the effect it has on our children, making them selfish and greedy, etc., etc., etc.! Even that doesn't bother me. It never did. Since we don't watch TV, there was never any opportunity for my kids to say "I want this". I would take my kids shopping and watch what they looked at with interest, make a mental note of it and then I shopped from the list in my head. It worked perfectly every time! I never allowed my kids to make a dream list, or Santa list, or whatever they are called. And I never allowed them to show disdain or disappointment in ANY gift, no matter how large or small. Granted, there were times that we all raised our eyebrows at a gift or two, like the time the church that we were pastoring surprised the kids with gifts of their own. Janelle got the cutest little doll. The problem was, Jeren got one, too. Granted....his was a BOY doll, but he wasn't thrilled, to say the least. But.....he STILL had to say 'Thank you'!
I think the sweetest thing about the Christmas season are the family traditions that we make. Before I was married, I enjoyed the Stimmel family traditions. After I married, I became a part of the Miles traditions. But, Ken and I realized that we and our children were a family unit all of our own and we needed our own set of traditions. We borrowed some from our childhood memories and created others, just for us. These are things that our kids have looked forward to every year, even now that they are grown. Some traditions have been archived, such as the advent calendar. This daily calendar of surprises, leading us to the anticipation of the coming nativity, requires daily participation. Both kids have outgrown that, especially since Jeren is not here every day. So, it is now a fond memory. But we still have stockings, which we dive into on Christmas Eve. We still take one evening, preferably a snowy one, to roam the countryside looking for the most beautifully decorated homes. We still bake and decorate cookies together and we still drive across snowy roads and sit on frosty benches to watch the live nativity at one of the local churches. We go to see Scrooge's Christmas Carol EVERY year at the big Church of God and then have a party afterward at our house where we enjoy the warm fellowship of good friends. Lots of love, lots of laughter, lots of JOY!
As I'm writing this blog in the cozy comfort of my family room, I am watching it snow! It's just the perfect day to decorate the house, which is what I am getting ready to do....another tradition of ours....a Christmas Tree in EVERY ROOM! The Christmas music is ready to be turned on, the house is toasty warm and I'm rearin' to get to my traditions! Hope your Christmas is as full of happiness and fun as mine!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nostalgic Musings!

I told myself that I was NOT going to do this. NO TRIPS DOWN MEMORIES LANE THIS YEAR!! But I didn't recognize a voice of authority and I can't seem to help myself, so here I am!
Autumn is ABSOLUTELY my most favorite season of the year. I am very much as seasonal person, enjoying all the changes each one brings as I watch the landscape around me change daily. But Autumn.......ahhhh......NOTHING compares to the glorious colors and wonderful smells that IT brings! Now, if you find this subject to be boring and pointless, let me suggest that you log off now, because I have picked up too much momentum to stop!
I guess that autumn brings out the farm girl in me, big time!! This season is the farmer's last big HURRAH before the howling winds of winter force him to park his equipment and seek some other activity to occupy his mind and hands. I can still smell the dry, dusty chaff that filled the air as my Daddy maneuvered his big John Deere combine through acres and acres of soybeans, clearing the land so neatly that it looked cleaned and swept. Mom and I would fry chicken and put together a wonderful supper that we would take to the fields so that Dad could keep right on working...."making hay while the sun shines", as he put it. After he ate, I would ride with him, watching row after row of harvested crops go into the insatiable mouth of that monstrous machine. I never tired of it and I still love to ride the combine to this day. I have been tempted to stop one of my poor, unsuspecting neighbors and ask if I can ride a round or two.....but I'm afraid they would forever fear the 'crazy woman' and be scarred for life. So, I just watch from my barn lot, drinking in the sights, sounds and smells of autumn....feeling a little homesick, a little nostalgic and a WHOLE LOT BLESSED!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

She was just a little dog...!

She was just a little dog, but she had woven herself into our lives and our affections with an undeniable charisma. She could charm her way into getting anything she wanted. With her buff colored, silky fur and her huge brown eyes, her floppy ears that never, ever, really stood up straight and her tail that curled like a corkscrew on the end, she was just too cute for words. She came into our lives when she was 6 weeks old, a tiny little thing from the humane society, ready for all the love we had to give. Technically, she was Jeren's little dog. But Jeren is a busy college boy, not always able to give her the attention she wanted. Her life in the apartment, this semester, consisted of early morning runs, then 12 hours in her crate until Jeren got home from classes. She'd get another run outside, then back to the apartment where she tried to get her boy to play with her, in and around all the homework. So.....she got to stay with us, on the farm, for a few weeks. We had so much fun with her, throwing things for her to fetch, wrestling with her on the bed, and being the constant recipients of all the love she had to give. She had the run of the farm and I would often catch her back in the pasture, running ahead of the horses as if her life depended on it, which it probably did! She was everybody's darling and Jeren's special little girl. Her name was Buffy and we lost her today to a reckless driver who was speeding down our road. We will miss this little furry bundle of energy and fun. She will be forever in our hearts! She was just a little dog, but she leaves behind a giant hole that nothing else will ever fill!

A Perfect Evening!!

There are some things in this life that simply defy explanation. They have to be experienced for a person to truly understand their meaning. Last night was one of those instances. Not that last night was anything new! It started out to be a repeat of what has gone on at this farm for the past seven years. I start by picking a date for our annual bonfire and then sitting down at my computer with my trusty little PrintShop cd's to create a cute invitation. I carefully compile my guest list, TRYING to keep in mind that I have limited room, here. Each year that list has grown a little bigger as I try to squeeze just one more important person in........and there always seems to be room. This year was really a stretch, with the list growing to include over 40 adults and at least 12 children under the age of 6!! But people are just SO IMPORTANT to me, ya know?!? Then there's the mad dash from store to store, looking for unique decorations, the best deals on paper products and the biggest sale on food. Then the FUN begins. After the RSVP's start rolling in, I choose the soups that I will be making. This is always a very big deal!! I cook up three large pots of soup, have plenty of hot dogs and sausages on hand, along with all the fixin's for smores! Ken brings in a load of wood for a roaring fire and several bales of straw for comfortable sitting. Corn hole games are set up and the anticipation of a great time builds as people begin to trickle in for the fun, food and fellowship. This is what we do every year. It's as important to us as Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Fourth of July! So, what made THIS year so perfect? I'm not really sure!!! All the major elements of our party remained the same. But, somehow, the atmosphere of this one was different. This night was very nearly perfect. The wind was not blowing at all. The sky was bright with stars, the air was crisp and the bonfire, with it's glowing coals and drifting sparks, was the perfect backdrop for the cozy fellowship that we all enjoyed. As I wandered among the guests, listening to our friends laughing together and ssharing our good life, I thanked God for giving us the perfect evening......and great friends!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sleepless In the Midwest!

I'm hot and I can't sleep! The temperature is that perfect blend of heat and chill which renders the central air conditioning practically useless. It's just cool enough to keep it from coming on and just warm enough for me to be up in the middle of the night writing this blog. As I write, I can't help but think back to when I was a kid, living on a farm in the midwest and sweltering through the days and nights of hot August. Very few homes had air-conditioning, let alone CENTRAL AIR! But we DID have fans. Big, heavy metal things that took a handtruck to move from room to room and made conversation impossible if the day was hot enough for that fan to be turned on high! We had one of those. It was big, boxy and blue. It was supposed to be designed to make life more comfortable by violently stirring the air into a frenzy when it was place in a room. Now, I have no problems with a good, stiff breeze blowing through the house, but I prefer my breezes to be on the quiet side. I prefer QUIET when I am trying to read, write or work in various ways. And I definately prefer QUIET when I am supposed to be sleeping. Mom would haul that blue monstrosity upstairs, plug it in and turn it on HIGH so that the air would circulate through both rooms. In the upstairs, in the middle of the night, in the midst of a bad case of insomnia, that thing would roar and rumble like a bi-plane with a bad miss in the engine. Just when you thought you had caught a rythm and were about to be lulled to sleep by it, the sound would change and you'd have to start all over again. I was glad when that fan died!
My mother mourned it's loss for years. She bought another blue box fan, but it had too much plastic on it, it was too light and it made very little noise. Therefore, it COULD NOT put out a good breeze. She complained bitterly summer after summer! But I......well, I couldn't help myself.....I clapped for joy (on the inside, where Mom couldn't see) when they hauled that fan to the dump! And I climbed the stairs and went to sleep, which is what I'm gonna try to do right now if I can ever get cooled down!!!