Monday, July 30, 2007

Carson picnic 07 (Pictures coming in a couple days)

I nominate the following:

Sandy for Most Fun Auntie for all the time she spent playing with the youngsters.

Carson & Creighton for being the Sweetest Twins EVER! I always enjoy the pictures of them on the blog, but to see them in action and hear their voices (“Mommy can I go out now?”) is a whole new point of view. I know it was a long drive for the family, but I sure appreciated the personal contact!

Smitty for best storyteller.

Tom for his first appearance in over 20 (?) years.

Mary for showing up with a great attitude in spite of a one-day-old broken arm.

Elaine for best smile when face to face with a camera.

Audrey and Bayley for best playmates.

Dale & Jeanette for best hosts.

Pam & Denise for Best Sister Act.

Karen for venturing out in her new wheelchair, in spite of being unfamiliar with the controls; good thing that beeper works!

Marion for having the will power to save room in her stomach for the birthday party she was going to after the picnic.

Stephanie for smallest stature with the biggest personality.

The rest of us get honorable mention for being such great cooks.

It was a great day.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Three Yankee Doodle Dandies getting ready to ride our horses in the Independence Day parade in Tekamah, NE. Kate, me and Renee. Don't I look like a moose with these ladies? Why do I make friends with petite skinny women!?

Here are some flowers from my friend Renee's garden:

Black Eyed Susans

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cookin’ Part II

Towards Saturday evening while everyone else was sitting in the shade sipping cocktails, wine coolers and possibly a beer or two, I was minding the fire under my Dutch oven. I had put together a Campfire potato dish that called for layers of potato slices, chopped onion, green & red pepper, roasted garlic (which I roasted over the fire) and a pint of turkey stock, topped with cheeses. While that was cooking, I fired up Kelli’s grill and grilled the steaks. Kelli contributed a pan of fresh veggies which we roasted on one corner of the grill while the steaks cooked. Everyone loved the potatoes. They all think it was recipe, but just between you and me: it was the potatoes. I picked them up at a fruit/veggie stand north of Fremont and they are absolutely the nicest, freshest, best potatoes I’ve seen in a long time: thin skins, perfect white flesh. Just what “new potatoes” are supposed to look like. Exactly the kind I can’t grow.

Conversation – translated “tall tales” - about life with horses filled the rest of the evening until it got dark. I retired to the cot in the back of my pickup and everyone else slept in the main tent on Army style cots. I exiled myself because I snore like Toro; waking myself up now & then wondering who in the heck is mowing a lawn at this hour of the night? I slept pretty well until about 2:30 AM and then came wide awake, for no particular reason, so I spent the next couple of hours staring at the miraculously starlit sky and listening to my favorite Country station playing softly. And of course, Bubba, in his corral right next to my pickup crunching his hay and occasionally clearing his nose with a “Pshbpshbpshb.” Insomnia out in a camp is a lot more interesting than insomnia in the house.

When the sun came up, I rolled out and started the coffee and biscuits & gravy. Since we were in range, I made some of the cowgirls listen to my radio Ministry when it came on at 8:00.

After breakfast, we saddled up and took a six mile trail ride around the neighborhood. The sun was high and hot by midmorning, but ever willing to do my part to slow down global warming, I soaked up as much of the heat as I could on my bare neck & arms and will probably be peeling like a snake by the end of the week. Fortunately, I had plenty of water with me, even though I forgot the sunscreen.

When we got back to Kelli’s, all that was left to do was clean up, load up and head out. A very nice weekend!

A few pictures will be posted as they come available - remember, I still use film and have to rely on the developer!

So here’s a couple questions for your comment: what did you do with this fine weekend?
What do you do when you have insomnia?
Cookin’ for Cowgirl Camp Part I

Me & Bubba had a fun weekend. I was designated cook for the Mid-States Ranch Horse Association’s Cowgirl Camp. We spent all day Saturday and part of Sunday at Kelli’s place, just playing. When I wasn’t busy cooking, I was able to saddle up and join the fun.

We actually spent some time playing (are you sitting down?) POLO. Yes, most of us in western saddles, without helmets. Also, we were using modified equipment. One of the cowgirls brought four oars (the kind you’d buy to use with an inflatable boat) and a beachball sized soccer ball. And we batted that thing around, once the horses got used to the sight of the big ball rolling all over the place and the WHUMP! sound the paddle made when it was hit, we all did pretty well. I gained new respect for honest-to-goodness polo players and their ponies. I’ve watched a little of it on TV and often admired the control they must have over their mounts and their ability to “turn on a dime” and adjust their speed with the touch of a heel. And how DO they manage to see that tiny little puck, let alone swing and hit it, going full speed ahead? Lots of practice, I suppose. I also found out that there is an actual Polo Club or League of some kind in Omaha.

One of the fun things to do at Kelli’s place is practice on obstacles. The place she lives is home to an old rodeo arena and she and her partner, Mark Lyon, fill it obstacles and the trick is to get your horse to approach and cross each obstacle without balking. This can take awhile with some horses (like mine). Some of the things they put out are tarps on the ground; a wooden bridge; a long plank on a fulcrum (like a seesaw); and water puddles and muddy, boggy places. The thing the horses find the scariest of all is an old bed mattress. They absolutely hate stepping onto that thing and feel it give under their feet. Most of them back off in a big hurry. If you could have a discussion with your horse about this mattress, the conversation might go something like this:
You: “Let’s just walk across this mattress.”
Horse, after stepping on it: “Did you see that! It tried to swallow my foot! We gotta get away from this thing!”
You: “No it didn’t, you just pressed it down. Try again.”
Horse: “No way! This is quicksand; my mom told me about this stuff. Let’s go do the bridge again.”
You: “Stop crowhopping! You don’t have to be scared. In all the years we’ve known each other, have I ever taken you into anything that would get us hurt?”
Horse: “No, I guess not.”
You: “So why would I start now? Just move in a little closer.”
Horse: “Okay, but I don’t like this. What does it smell like?” Leaning down for a long whiff. “It doesn’t smell like sand.” Backs away again.
You: “It isn’t quicksand. Would I lie to you?”
Horse: “I don’t know. How would I know if you did?”
You: “Don’t make me get the spurs!”
Horse: “Alright alright already. What’s your hurry?”
And finally, after several false starts, we walk across.
By the end of the day, we were all crossing it successfully.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Here is a fun interview that Mary did:
She also has a link to it on Real Life Petticoat Ranch.

Monday, July 16, 2007

It looks like the stuffed grape leaves generated more interest than I anticipated.
They really turned out quite good, even if I do say so myself.
I cheated a little and bought a couple of them at the Baker’s Supermarket deli, so I could at least get an idea what they were supposed to look and taste like. I carefully unwrapped it to get a look at how the thing was folded around the filling and what the filling looked like, and then forged ahead with my own good intentions. Emily had bought two jars of pickled grape leaves at Wild Oats, a health food store in Omaha. The hardest thing about stuffing them was getting them out of the jar intact. They come wrapped up in rolls, kind of like a cigar and they were packed in really tight. Unrolling and unfolding the delicate things was a little time consuming, but worth the effort in the end. I suspect a suitable substitute might be blanched spinach leaves, except I think spinach stays less firm and shrinks more when cooked than the grape leaves do.
The filling was a mix of white rice cooked in vegetable stock, flavored with minced garlic and finely chopped leek. I actually thought mine were better than the Baker’s deli version, but maybe they were just fresher.
I think that the filling would make a good starter for a rice casserole – just add broccoli & cheese, or cooked turkey or chicken or chopped ham or crumbled bacon and warm it up in the oven.
The recipe yielded a large number of the tasty little appetizers, but I ran out of filling long before I ran out of grape leaves. So now, what to do with the rest of them? Any suggestions would be welcome.

At the end of the meal, Emily quietly spoke up and said, “If anyone has any birthday presents, I’d be happy to accept them now, since we’ll all be working on my actual birthday.” Bless her heart, I thought it was such a polite way to say, “Hand over the loot!” So we handed it over.

Sunday evening, we drove out to my friend Juli’s and picked 3 bushels of sweet corn, so I know what I will be doing until it all finds its way into the freezer. I’m amazed at the amount of fresh produce coming my way and I don’t even have much of a garden. What I do have is looking pretty pathetic, except for the eggplant. I’m blessed to have such a generous circle of friends!

And Mary, if you’re reading this, I’m still waiting for “news” as opposed to “olds” on Real Life Petticoat Ranch!

Friday, July 13, 2007

And the final tally is: 14 half pints of relish, 39 ½ pints pickles, five broken jars. (I must be losing my touch.) Can’t “beet” that for a good stash for winter! Additionally, Jack made 2 quarts of Borscht for supper one evening and we had roasted beets with our supper on another evening. I still have a handful to cook, but I’ve run out of pint & half pint jars, so we will just cook them up and munch with butter until they’re gone.

Now, on to the cucumbers. I found a “new to me” recipe in one of Grandma Anderson’s old cookbooks. It’s for making sweet pickles out of those really large, old and sometimes useless cucumbers that didn’t get picked in time for the 14 day or dill batches.

We will be having Emily’s birthday dinner this Sunday. She has to work at the Hut on her actual birthday. Her requests have challenged my culinary skills, but she had the courtesy to provide recipes. We’ll be having stuffed grape leaves, creamy crab-stuffed portobellos, bleu cheese tomato soup, French bread and chocolate cake. I have her permission to use a mix for the cake, thank goodness! She’ll be 23.

As for the weekend, when I’m done grocery shopping (for grape leaves, etc.) I might go check out the festivities at the John C. Fremont Days in Fremont. They have a nice Chautauqua Presentation and a Living History encampment, which both appeal to the historian in me. A couple years ago they had an eight horse hitch of the Budweiser Clydesdales in town. They were SO AWESOME to stand next to. I also learned there are 5 such teams that travel the country making personal appearances. Unfortunately, they weren’t hiring grooms, handlers, drivers or even stall muckers at that time. Darn.

I got invited to ride in the Chicken Days Parade in Wayne, (see for more info) but that’s a long drive and I’d have to get there by 9 AM. I’m pleading guilty of laziness to get out of that one and of course, the pickling must go on!

I see that today is Friday the 13th. Since last week’s 7/7/7 didn’t prove to be especially lucky, I expect this day won’t be especially unlucky. Anyway, I don’t believe in luck – only blessings.

So blessings to you for this weekend!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I have good friend named Clyde who is the most extraordinary gardener I have ever known. He keeps me in beets. Sunday evening, we went to his place and picked beets and wound up with three 5 gallon buckets of beets – each beet is about the size of an apple. His garden is an awesome sight: potatoes, tomatoes, beets, (we barely made a dent in his crop), corn, peppers, garlic, onions and grapes to name just a few of the things he grows. And do you know why he grows all this?
To give it away.
He has a heart the size of the Louisiana Purchase and he loves to grow things, so he grows this magnificent garden and gives 99 % of it away. His wife likes to keep some of the potatoes.
He has passed this gift for growing things along to his daughter, Kelli (who happens to be a cowgirl friend of mine) and now they trade bedding plants and growing secrets, so between the two of them, I think they might be able to keep the entire Midwestern USA in fresh produce throughout the growing season.
Meanwhile, I will be spending every spare minute of the next few days processing beets. We love pickled beets and I found a recipe for beet relish that I’m going to try.
Joani is going out of town from now until Sunday and her cucumbers have just started to bear, so I will have cukes to pick & pickle for a few days. I appreciate that a lot, because I don’t have room for cucumbers in my little space and I am completely out of my 14 day sweet pickles.
Not only that, but it’s sweet corn season and there is a truck on every other corner selling fresh corn – the good kind that has both white & gold kernels.
Life is good.

Monday, July 09, 2007

I saw a painting of this pose at the Leanin’ Tree Museum, so here is my attempt to recreate it, using my own horse and the defunct privy in the woods behind my house.

I walk past this tree every morning with Cody and there is always a redwing blackbird in it. I don’t know if it’s the same one every day or not, but here he is.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Toby Keith

One of my new favorites

A poem, like Myrna suggested a while back, where you describe an emotion using the five senses.

When someone is angry with me:

A vicious punch in the stomach.
Halogen lights burning, bringing tears to the eyes.
A persistent mosquito in the ear buzzing, “Why didn’t you just shut up?”
Bitter as rotten celery.
Onion rings sizzling in a vat while you stand outside the door with an empty, gurgling belly and no money in your pocket.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tomorrow, we celebrate the 231st anniversary of the signing of the American Declaration of independence.
My childhood memories of this holiday center around the City Park in Lyons, Nebraska. My memories of this begin in grade school, sometime after we moved to town in the 60s. I loved sleeping late on a summer morning and the 4th of July was no different. With what was left of the morning, I lit some firecrackers in our front yard, terrorizing all the dogs and cats in the neighborhood, no doubt. I loved lighting the “snakes” and watching the smoke billow out as they seemed to slither up out of the sidewalk. For the rest of the summer, there was a stain of black soot on the sidewalk where ever I had lit a “snake.”
The afternoon was spent at the swimming pool. I was usually there during all its hours of operation: from 1-5 and 7-9. Then, I’d join some friends for fireworks at the ballfield (there was only one back then). We sat on blankets, if we remembered to bring them, and stood at the end for a scratchy recording of The Star Spangled Banner blared over a loudspeaker during the finale. Then home for a few bottle rockets and maybe a Roman candle or two.
The day passed pretty much the same way year after year. The festivities were what held my attention and I didn’t really give much thought to the event the date commemorated until I became an adult and two things happened: I enlisted in the Army and later, I earned a B.A. in History.
In Basic Training camp at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, one of the first things you learn is RESPECT for the flag. Each day at Reveille when the Post Flag was raised, where ever you were, you stopped what you were doing, faced the flag (or its direction, if you were too far away to see it), stood at attention and saluted. At dusk, they played Taps and you did the same thing. Heaven help the Recruit who failed to assume Attention during Reveille or Taps. No one in my unit got caught at that, so I don’t even know what the punishment was – probably a few hundred push-ups and KP for the rest of your stay.
In my studies of American History, I learned exactly what it cost the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. All of them immediately had their property seized by the British Army. Most of them were hanged for Treason. The survivors went on to “ordain and establish” the Constitution, but not a single one of them ever recovered their property or financial losses. I gained a whole new perspective on the meaning of Independence Day.

Here is one of my favorite pages from History:

It was in August of 1812 that a young Lawyer living in Geogretown, Pennsylvania watched as the British army invaded and captured Washington DC, setting fire to the capitol and the White House. President Madison and his wife Dolley barely escaped with their lives. A thunderstorm quenched the flames before the whole city became engulfed. (Coincidence?) The following day, the invading army returned to light more fires and, again, thunderstorms developed, extinguishing the flames before they spread.
Baltimore was the next target and during that invasion, the British arrested a beloved physician, Dr. Beanes and took him to a ship in the harbor to be held as a prisoner of war. The help of the lawyer from Georgetown was enlisted to negotiate a prisoner exchange for the Dr. Beanes. Accompnaied by Col. John Skinner, the lawyer was taken to the British ship, where he produced letters of testimonials from British prisoners who had been treated by Dr. Beanes. They testified to his compassion and to the excellent medical care they had received at his hands. The British agreed to release Dr. Beanes, but the lawyer, Col. Skinner and the doctor were not allowed to leave. It was feared they had seen and heard too much of the preparations for the next attack on Baltimore.
The next morning, at 7 AM, the British launched their attack. The assault began with the firing of 1500 220 pound bombshells that often exploded in midair before reaching their target. Congreve rockets were fired almost continuously, leaving a contrail of red smoke arcing across the sky. When dusk fell, the firing stopped (due to another thunderstorm – another coincidence?) until about 1 AM, when the British fleet roared to life again. The three Americans watched helplessly, fearing the worst. But a few hours later, the firing stopped. As the sun rose in the east, the three men stood and gazed toward the shoreline and saw the Stars and Stripes still flying over Ft. McHenry. It was then that the lawyer, Francis Scott Key, wrote these words:

Oh, say can you see
by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed
at the twilights’ last gleaming
Whose broad stripes and bright stars
through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watched,
were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare,
the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night
that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star spangled banner
yet wave o’er the land of the free
And the home of the brave?

I believe that this is the land of the free BECAUSE it is the home of the brave.

Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 02, 2007

What a NICE weekend we had here – moderate temps and low humidity. So comfortable. Bubba & I had a nice ride Saturday afternoon with our saddle club. We rode along the banks of the Missouri River. There were several sandbar parties going on and lots of motorboats, speedboats and one big barge, who blew his foghorn for us. After the ride, we had potluck picnic.
On the 4th, we are going to ride in the parade at Tekamah, maybe against my better judgment. Last time we tried that one, the firecrackers going off everywhere made him SO jumpy, but my friend Renee talked me into trying it again. We even bought matching shirts and a big red, white & blue bow to put on the horse’s tail. Wish me luck!
I can’t believe how quickly June went by. I must insist that the earth spin more slowly and slow its orbit down for the remainder of the summer so that the rest of the season doesn’t fly by so quickly.
I’ve heard that several people have come down with an awful stomach flu in the past few days. Even though I do not have time for that sort of thing, I am beginning to feel a little strange: not much appetite (very unusual for me) and a little light headed. I might also attribute that to caffeine withdrawal as I have decided to get off that stuff again (for about the fifth time). I’m down to about 3 ounces of coffee in the morning and no more the rest of the day. Tomorrow or Wednesday, I’ll start skipping that, too. I like to taper off to avoid the headache.
Last week, I learned that no matter how irritating something is, it can always get worse. Next time I have to go to the county courthouse and stand in line to get my driver’s license renewed or license plate tags, I promise not to complain. On Friday, I had to go in and get tags renewed for eighteen (count’em – 18) vehicles for TST. So that means insurance cards for each one, the little postcard the county sends out, proof that we paid our heavy highway use tax and a check for about $3800. The girls at the Treasurer’s office were good, though. As soon as someone got finished with another customer, they stepped in to help the lady who was doing my paperwork. They all stayed fairly cheerful throughout the process, but I’m not sure the people in line behind me did the same. I didn’t hang around to find out.