Feather Leftovers

There hasn't been much time lately to tackle any of our projects out here, (thank you Mother Nature) so I decided a small project was in order to trick me into believing we are making progress.  There are a couple of items I have plenty of: Peacock feathers (home grown, of course) and antique glass insulators.


Every year our male peacocks lose their tail feathers and I faithfully collect them and stick them in a vase.  There they sit, just an ugly mess.


Tonight I tried my hand at making an arrangement with them to put in the laundry room.  I didn't realize how stupid it looked until after I took the pictures.  Sigh.

Of course I course I couldn't live with this hideous looking thing, so I trudged back up the steps and messed with it some more.  

Ahhhh, much better.

The glass insulators?  Well, since they have rounded tops, I can't turn them upside down for use as candle holders or mini vases or anything like that, so I'm using them as a defense mechanism.  I lined them up on the back of the bookcase so the boys won't lose any of their stuff behind it.  Do you have any idea how many important little boy things wind up behind furniture?


Mission accomplished.  The laundry room is looking a little better and I am really pleased with how well the colors work together in the room.  Mr. window looks a little happier with some company as well.  And if you are wondering what happened to the leftover feathers....

They were used by little boys.  One said he was a "peahawk"  and the other was a "peekhaw".


Winter is Wrecking Us

Just when I thought Mother Nature had handed us her worst blows, I was shown otherwise.  Monday, January 25, 2010, was by far the worst day for us this winter.  Looking back, I think it was because the blizzard we received that day took us by surprise.  We were expecting snow, but never dreamed less than two inches of the stuff could stop us in our tracks.  I don't know if the weather forecasters were just sick and tired of giving us bad news, or they assumed that by now we were smart enough to figure out that gusting winds with a little snow automatically means blizzard conditions. 

Drew is the one I am always most concerned about.  He has to drive about 100 miles in the dark to get to work.  Like us, he has no idea how bad the road conditions are until he is on them.  Monday, visibility wasn't the only worry.  Snow drifts were streaking onto the highways which were already patchy with ice and snow.  Add to that gusting winds and you're in for a white-knuckle drive no matter how far you have to travel, even in the light of day.

Drew called me around 7:00 a.m.  I answered the phone by saying, "I'm worried about you."  He said, "you should be, I just rolled my truck on the Interstate".   Fortunately he was not injured beyond bumps and bruises, but my nerves were as wrecked as his vehicle and there was no promise of them being any better until he was safe at home.


Glen said he would go get him and I said, "not without me!"  There was no way I was going to be able to concentrate on anything at work anyway.  I think Glen agreed to let me ride along because I've been doing a good job of being a passenger lately.  I'm okay as long as I keep my eyes closed because then I'm able to keep my mouth shut.  


Thanks to a great deal of luck and Drew's friend, State Trooper Kastner, who just happened to be traveling (off duty) on Interstate 80 at the time of the mishap, Glen and I only had to travel as far as Harlan to retrieve our accident victim. Still, it was a feat in and of itself getting all of us back home.  The one mile of gravel road that runs from the highway to our house was drifted shut by the time we got back.  Our neighbors were kind enough to invite us into their home while we waited for another neighbor who was kind enough to drive his tractor several miles over here to open the road for us.  Goodness, but we were a needy lot that day.


Tuesday morning it was same stuff, different tractor.  This is the neighbor who opens the road so he can get to his hog unit for chores twice each day at dawn and dusk.  We are extremely grateful for all who have come to our rescue over and over and over again this winter.  

Guess what.  It's supposed to snow this weekend.  Ug.


My New BFF

We are most grateful that we were able to obtain a generator to see us through this power outage.  Thanks to our neighbors, that is, who made sure we weren't forgotten.  After all, we aren't real farmers.  We don't have income producing livestock, we're just relocated city folk livin' the dream out in the country.

When the generator arrived, it was first things first... beer and Gatorade on ice and then hook up the generator.  (Isn't she a beaut?)  Then it was a matter of deciding what we wanted to run.  Furnace, t.v., internet and a couple of lamps and we were set.  It took a little work, however to prepare a fine meal last night.

Drag lamp and extension cord from bedroom to kitchen so you can see what you're doing; have husband light stove so you don't blow house up; and fix whatever you can find by flashlight in the cupboard.

I opted for popcorn with a Pop Tart for dessert.  GB said he wanted a hot meal so he went for the Lipton beef noodle entree.  Not exactly healthy, but the boys weren't here, so who cares?  I was trying to think of things to buy that we could fix over the next few days because the way things looked outside, it was going to be a few days before our power was restored.

This is a view of the road that leads west from our place.  If you can't read the sign, it says, "Level B Road - Enter at Your Own Risk".  It's a minimum maintenance road - as in it never gets plowed during the winter.  Such is the case with the roads that lead to the north and east of our place as well.  The power line that feeds our lines is located on one of these roads. 


  I really figured it would be at least a few more days before they would be able to get to us, so I packed my box and headed to Drew's to shower before I went public at the grocery store.

Hey.  I couldn't find my travel bag in the dark, okay?

 I want you to know that it isn't easy showering at Drew's house.  Chandler is very protective:

"Don't touch my dad's stuff!"

Well, I didn't touch any of his dad's stuff.  Turns out he won't have to worry about that anymore because just as I was about to get in the shower, Glen called and said the power was on.

I was so grateful, so surprised the power was back on, I just had to stalk the utility truck until I found my new BFF (Mom, that means "Best Friend Forever") so I could thank him proper.

I have no idea who he is, but I just had to thank him.  Those linemen worked long, hard hours in horrible weather conditions to make sure everyone had power. Without them, the world as we knew it came to a screeching halt.  I think I will try to be more mindful of my new BFF.  He and his co-workers are out there every day for us.  We definitely take their efforts for granted.

Quasi Birthday Party & Toilet Paper Training

Before the lights went out, Drew and the boys came out to commemorate Ethan's 5th Birthday.  It was a quasi party for sure - just the basics:  cake, candles and ice cream and a couple of presents.  I must say Drew did an excellent job of making the cake all by himself.  Ethan was so very proud of him.

Drew brought all the fixin's for the perfect meal:  hot dogs, sloppy joes and, of course, macaroni and cheese.  Drew also brought Elena, a wonderful addition to testosterone table, for sure.


The weather has been such an issue this winter that it has been hard to plan anything.  Drew will have an "official" birthday party for Ethan, complete with hats and horns and little kids and lots of presents just as soon as his schedule and Mother Nature mutually collide.

Ethan was aware of the fact that this party was not his real party, so he just kept telling everyone, "tomorrow I will be six and have a big, big party!"  But he was quite happy with all the special attention.

Chandler was a good sport throughout.  He wasn't the least bit jealous, which is quite amazing for a three-year-old.  But, just when all eyes were on Ethan opening his presents, we heard bellowing from the bathroom:  "GRANDMA, I NEED HELP!"


He hasn't quite mastered the toilet paper thing yet.


Waking to a Beautifully Ugly Day

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I am finding that true in many ways this winter.  Mother Nature has not been very kind to us.  We have had either rain, ice, snow, freezing fog, frost, or any combination of the same, since Christmas.

Last Saturday I took Cole to his basketball game in Holstein.  When we left our place, it was so foggy I couldn't see two car lengths ahead of me, but as we headed north, the sky cleared and the view was absolutely breathtaking.

It was a great morning for Cole and his team as well.  They beat their opponents by a healthy margin (34-11).  They were pooped, but all smiles afterward. 


Our trip back home wasn't as pretty. The sky was clear and cloudless, but the frost had conceded to the sun and vanished.   Two short miles from home and we were once again embraced by the fog.

 The fog and frost stayed with us all week.  Everything out here was heavy with frost, even some of the cats.

 The frost only settled on the largest of our fur kids, the ones who scavenge and run amok all day.  The little ones stay in the cat house and cuddle until feeding time during bad weather days. 

And then the ice came.

School was canceled Wednesday due to the ice storm that settled in our area.  The highways and gravel roads were not difficult to manuever, it was the streets and sidewalks in town that were slicker than snot on silicone.  Our power went out shortly before noon and Glen had to rescue Caine who was home alone, bored to the bone and getting cold.  Glen and I made a trip out to the house after work to pick up clothes and toiletries for everyone.  Not such an easy task in the dark.  I stayed at Drew's, Caine and Cole were at Grandpa and Grandma's and Glen stuck it out at home for the night. When the storm passed, we heaved a sigh of relief believing the worst was behind us.

Then all hell broke loose.


Glen, Caine and I ventured back home Thursday evening to check on things and grab more necessities for another night in town.   We were in complete shock to find most of the power poles on the gravel road had snapped and broken.  When we crested the hill to our place, the amount of ice on the wires was incredible.  The lines from the poles on the road to our house were hanging precariously low.  Despairing sights were the only sights we saw.

After the storm, the good news was the bad news.  The temperature was on the rise, meaning the ice would be melting, but that also meant the power lines would be hopping and jumping and shorting themselves out, which is exactly what happened.  Town after town was afflicted with power outage and all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't get everything put back together quickly again.

The entire county looked like a battleground.  No one was denying that Mother Nature had the upper hand and was dishing out more than we could handle.  Additional troops were on their way.  Mile-long convoys
of utility trucks hauling in man power, poles and lines from Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kansas were spotted and cheered along their way.

When times get tough, country folk like us don't sit still and wait for something to happen.  When we learned it could be two weeks before power is restored in the rural areas, cell phones started to ring.  One neighbor called another to say, "Hey, I'm headed to Des Moines to pick up a generator, do you need one?"  Which led to another calling another and another.  We were fortunate enough to be one of the anothers.   Before I was off work yesterday, a generator had been delivered to our house, Glen was able to hook it up and we had heat and light, but we still weren't out of harm's way.

Our water source is a deep well located about a quarter-mile away from the house in the middle of a field.  There is no way to get to the well to hook a generator to the pump, so we are without water until the troops arrive and repair our power lines.  That alone is enough to make one worry, but the power poles to the well were at risk of snapping and breaking just like the ones on the gravel road.  Should that happen, it would be after the spring thaw before a crew would be able to get to it.  The winds picked up last night and we prayed for the best.

When I woke up this morning, I was met with this beautiful sight:

Do you see it?  No frost, no snow, no ice on the branches.  The same is true for the power lines - and the poles to our well are still standing.  Beauty, indeed, is in the eye of the beholder. 


My Big Night Out

Golly.  People noticed that I didn't post yesterday.  My excuse is that I was so pooped I couldn't put a sentence together.  When I get tired things come out all wrong when I try to talk.  I think I told Cole to make sure to "wash his shower when he took his hair".  Supper consisted of pre-prepared everything in a half dozen carry out cartons which I threw on the counter and invited the guys to dig into.  They weren't impressed but, the testosterone table sitters did say it was better than the re-runs I re-heated and tossed on the table the night before.

I have reached the age where certain things are automatic.  When I sit in the recliner and pull up the footrest, my eyelids close and I fall asleep.  Since it was too early for that, I decided to surf the net for cool things to make.  I found origami and made a couple of simple little boxes.  I presented them to Glen and he said, "what am I supposed to do with these?"  I suggested he put his stuff in them.  He said, "I have so much stuff I don't have room for things to put my stuff in."  Does that make any sense?

I managed to stay awake and entertained with origami until 9:00 and then it was lights out.  I was looking forward to a full night's sleep without the interruption of the pitter-patter of little feet.  I fell asleep with a smile on my face looking forward to my big night out tonight... a wonderful hour-and-a-half in the chair at the salon where my stylist would weave wonders through my hair so I wouldn't look a day over 52 again.

Boy, is it a good thing I got my hair colored, not only because it's therapeutic, I got out of cooking another meal and I was surrounded by females for a change, but because just when you think nobody notices, someone comes along and lets you know otherwise.


"Grandma, all the kids at school think (changing her name to protect the innocent)  Mrs. Whitmore wears a wig because her face is so 'ovally', but I got her to come to my desk and when she bent down I could see a white streak down the middle so I know she doesn't, but, boy, it sure looks like it 'cause of her 'ovally' face."


I shudder to think what he tells the kids at school about my hair, but I think my stylist, Jill Graeve at Indulge, did such a fantastic job on my white streak that I took a picture of it all by myself  : )

And it only took me 17 tries : )


Copy Cat - World War III

Drew comes home tomorrow from his week out serving our country [Thank you Drew : ) ] so that means our little entertainers won't be around much for a couple of weeks.  This evening, however, the entertainment included more drama than comedy.

Tonight the three youngest were fighting over everything, complaining about everything and cooperation was not something any of them were interested in.  They concerned themselves with whatever it was the others were concerned with, which, in turn, brought out the worst in each of them.  Tough times like this in our house call for tough measures.

But don't let the solemn little face fool you. Ethan wasn't being punished with hard labor for failing to cooperate, he loves to clean the floors with my handy little Swiffer SweeperVac.  It's my deploy and divert tactic - give them something to do they enjoy - and  it generally works like a charm, but tonight my little trick didn't last very long.

Cole, who hasn't discovered the benefits of walking away and leaving well enough alone, found it hilarious that any kid would want to help out with the domestic duties around here and had to make fun of Ethan.

 Hence the harmony was short-lived.

While Ethan and Cole squabbled over whether or not cleaning the floor was "dumb", which led to the pete and re-pete  "I'm not dumb, you're dumb", see who can say it the longest contest,  Chandler stepped in to help...

...which led to Wolrd War III:

"Chandler!  I had it first!  Why do you always have to coffee me?" screamed Ethan, to which Chandler replied, "I am not coffee you, Ethan!"
"Yes you are".
"No mine not!"

Then it was Grandpa to the rescue to put an end to it once and for all.  Well, kind of.

He scooped up Ethan and Chandler and plopped them in the tub.  Usually there's nothing better than warm sudsy water to wash away their troubles, but as I retreated to the basement to blog, they were still debating over who was coffee-ing whom while splashing water on each other in the bath tub.

It wasn't until we threatened to withhold their bedtime snack that the copy cats, I mean "coffe cats", decided to end their little battle.  They knew it wouldn't be very long before they would have a much larger war to wage:  "I don't want to go to bed!"


Caine's Bedroom

I usually reserve my before pictures for posting after I finish my projects.  However, (much to the chagrin of  my new project blogging friends) I have to wait on this one until Glen can help.  I admire those ambitious women out there who can handle the DIY projects on their own, but I also know my limits - and boundaries.  It isn't that I couldn't go out to the machine shed and haul in the the things I need.  It's a matter of paying the price of all the wailing and gnashing of teeth should I bring in the wrong items.  I swear he has 52 of everything and no matter how he explains which one of the 52 I can have, I inevitably grab the wrong one.

Caine's room is in need of a lot of help.  When the windows were replaced, we found a great deal of wood rot beneath the window.  Glen has decided to tear out all the lath and plaster, then insulate and drywall.  I could do a good job of demolishing the old wall, but he wants to cover the floor first, and that's my hold up.  He has the "perfect covering" somewhere out there in his machine shed.

I started this room ages ago - before we tackled the laundry room, and time's a waistin'.  Caine will graduate in less that four years!  

Caine is also wishing the project would move along.  He's currently sleeping in a tiny little room, but he's been a real sport about it and doesn't complain.   He just mentions his ideas for his room every now and then and has even written his plans on the walls.   It will most definitely be a "Monarch" Room - all Purple and Gold.

Perhaps, when Drew gets home this week and the little boys are gone, I will get out my ammonia and start stripping the shellac off the woodwork.


Meet the Animals

Thought I would mix things up a bit today.  The natives are restless and crabby so there probably won't be any cute little antics to report.  I think we are all ready for spring to arrive.  (Only 68 long, torturous days to go).  

Meet Abby, the newest member of our farm family.  She was born last spring and spent her first four weeks in our house!   She was the sole survivor of preemie twins, too weak to nurse on her own.  She lived in a dog carrier in the kitchen for about a month.

It didn't take long before she was literally one of the kids...

and she doesn't mind getting dressed up when company's coming.

This is Houdini.  He came to us from northern Iowa last spring along with his mother, Mamma Llama.  Houdini got his name from his prior owners because he escaped every pen they tried to put him in.  He has been a very good boy since his arrival.  I find him simply adorable.

Here is another of our home grown creatures.  We purchased his parents shortly after we moved here and they finally had babies a year ago this past spring.  We had to let him out of the cage the rest of his family lives in because he and his father fight over who is the prettiest. 

He's a real beauty and come this spring he should be sporting a beautiful fan of tail feathers.

Our other feathered friends include this little gaggle of ganders.  They escape every now and again, but never for long and they always travel together.  If one of them should stray, the others cause such a racket you'd think the world was coming to an end.

Dolly Llama and Ollie Llama were birthday presents for me the year Glen forgot our anniversary :  )  He didn't want llamas out here, but oh the wonders of guilt!  He has since learned that they are awesome animals, great weed eaters and much more amusing than goats.  Curious and protective, the llamas have to be front and center when company comes and on occasion Dolly will eat right out of your hand.

What farm place would be complete without cats?  Every spring we have an explosion.

And my favorite?


Mia has to be my favorite because we just have so much in common:

We are both big girls.
Her eyes are brown and so are mine.

She's a girl and so am I.
We both bark...
and even though we are both old dogs
we still know how to wag our tails to get what we want.