Family

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No, I’m not mad at my daughter. (Although I was “mentioned” in her Clutter Club Blog article.)

 Yes, she told the truth. I do rent a storage building for my books and other “treasures”.

But, in case anybody is wondering, my house doesn’t look like the crazy eBay mom‘s. I have proof.

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My living room.

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Dining room at Christmas.

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Another view of the dining room.

To give credit where credit is due, last summer my daughter did talk me into changing the color of my walls. Here is a before picture of my dining room.

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My dining room, Christmas 2007.

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I got this book at a garage sale years ago. It was fun to read.

Dating Advice and cutting edge medicine from “The Favorite Medical Receipt Book and Home Doctor”…

About Marriage — Now I am going to speak to you on a delicate and difficult subject, wrote Dr. Warner M.D. in 1904.

You are thinking of marriage; it is right that you should. To be married to a good man, sound in body and mind, whom you sincerely love, is the best fortune that can come to you

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Dr. Warner was ahead of her time.

— It is better you die an old maid than marry a man that is fast. —
 
You are limited in your choice of a husband to the men who have signified their wish to marry you, but it is better that you should die an old maid than marry a man who is “fast” as your friends say, i.e., dissipated. Of course in marriage there are many considerations besides those of health, but those of health are the only ones on which I undertake to advise you.

There are two forms of dissipation which are to be avoided in a husband on the score of health — habitual use of alcoholic drinks to excess, and the habit of association with immoral women. It is not very common for a young man to be what is called a habitual drunkard, but a man who is frequently intoxicated when young will, in all human probability, be a habitual drinker before he is forty

  — Marriage to a man who drinks can cause your children to have nervous troubles, hysterics, epilepsy, and sometimes idiocy —

If you imagine you can reform such a man, you are greatly mistaken; he will grow worse and not better. He will not injure your health directly, only so far as misery, want and distress are likely to do it; but your children will suffer. They are likely to have all sorts of nervous troubles, hysterics, epilepsy, and sometimes idiocy.

The second form of dissipation is even more dangerous. It is quite common for a young man of that sort to contract diseases as a result of his bad habits, which, if you marry him, would be very likely to be communicated to you or to any children that you might have by him. Do not allow yourself to become interested in such a man, even if he has beautiful eyes and fascinating manners.

Choose for associates sober, steady young men. Do not be afraid to give them a little kindly encouragement if they are shy and awkward.

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Morphine, quinine and a slew of other ingredients took care of neuralogical disorders in 1904.

As to Diet —You should eat good, simple food. Avoid rich cake, gravies, rich pastry and preserves. Ices in moderation are wholesome enough. Eat all the fruit you want, provided it is ripe and sound, but do not eat too much candy. It would be better not to eat any, but that is too much to expect of you, for candy is a girl’s greatest temptation in the eating line. Hot breads and buckwheat cakes are good to the taste, but trying to the digestion. Use tea and coffee with great moderation; they are nerve stimulants, which you do not in the least need. A cup of weak coffee you can have in the morning, if you want it, but save the tea till you are an older woman.

Take plenty of time for your meals, and masticate your food thoroughly.

Cosmetics, Powder, Rouge, etc. —Scorn everything of this kind.

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I wonder if this receipt is where Smith Bros.’ Cough Drops began?

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The editor explains the purpose of the book as well as the receipt and information sources.

NOTE: This was cutting edge medicine from the leading physicians at the beginning of the 20th century. It shows how far we have come as well as how little has changed.

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My mother was a tomato grower and canner without peer. 

Seriously, she was good.

Back then, my parents didn’t have air conditioning. But, that didn’t keep my mother from spending  day after day slumped over huge, steaming, graniteware kettles, doing things with tongs and filling shelf after shelf with her homegrown canned tomatoes. 

But, despite my mother’s success, maybe it is the memory of what seemed  like too many long hot hours and too many procedures and having to be totally sterile that made the discovery of a food dehydrator in DH’s barn so exciting.

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The abandoned food dehydrator waiting to be filled with tomatoes.

I also love the concentrated sweetness and flavor of sun dried tomatoes. Home dried tomatoes are less expensive than those from the grocery. They take up much less shelf space than canned tomatoes. They can be used in any recipe calling for tomatoes.

Best of all, they are easy to make.

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The first tier of tomatoes is ready.

Plum or Roma tomatoes are recommended. However, any type you want to use will work. The tomatoes should be firm and ripe, but not over ripe, which will lead to decay. For round or slicer type tomatoes cut the tomatoes crosswise into no thicker than 1/4 inch thick slices.

 Drain your tomatoes in a collander, pat slightly with paper towels, then place the tomatoes on your dehydrator racks leaving enough space between the slices for air to circulate.

 Rotate the trays if you have more than one to dehydrate. Ideally the temperature should be at 135 to 140 degrees. To oven dry: place your tomatoes on foil lined cookie sheets. Your oven temperature should be between 140 to 150 degrees.

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Be sure to turn your tomatoes over when necessary and to rotate the tiers. Some of mine are wet and need to be turned over.

Drying tomatoes will take from 10 to 24 hours. When your tomatoes are dry they should be leathery but pliable. As soon as my tomatoes were of the same texture as a raisin, I removed them from the dehydrator with a spatula. I decided to preserve them by freezing to prevent mold and used ziplock bags with the air pulled out through a straw.

 If your tomatoes come out too dry or you want to make them into flakes put them into your freezer for about 5 minutes and then crush them with a rolling pin or kitchen mallet.

 To make tomato powder use your food processor or blender until the tomatoes are ground very fine.

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1/4 cup of dried tomatoes I am going to hydrate with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

 To rehydrate your tomatoes, soak them in water or olive oil at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. Using boiling water will speed up the process.

dsc00604.jpg Dried tomatoes can also be added to soups and stews during the last half hour to rehydrate. I added them to my chili on Sunday. DH said it is the best chili he has ever had!

SUN DRIED TOMATO CREAM CHEESE SPREAD

This recipe is simple and absolutely delicious.

– ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and coarsely chopped

– 8 ounces block cream cheese, softened

– ½ cup sour cream

– ¼ cup mayonnaise

– 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

– ¾ tsp. salt

– ¾ tsp. black pepper

– 1 Tblsp. Dried basil (I used 2-3 Tbsp. of fresh basil)

– A dash of hot sauce (or more if you like it spicy!)

Toss all of the ingredients into a food processor, and blend until smooth. (I just used a whisk because I like having little tomato chunks in my spread.) Chill for about an hour before serving. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container, and it will keep for up to two weeks.

– You can make this spread figure-friendly by using reduced fat versions of the cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise. It will taste so good, you’ll never miss the fat!

crean-cheese-3.jpgTomorrow I will use the cream cheese spread on bagels. But, DH and I couldn’t resist getting out some crackers and doing some taste testing. The spread is outstanding!

SUN DRIED TOMATO, MUSHROOM, CHEESE &

MEATBALL PIZZA

  • 1 1/2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (I used 1 can of canned)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (10-ounce ) can refrigerated pizza crust
  • sweet onion sliced thin and chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
  • Meatballs (precooked & chopped) 

Combine dried tomatoes and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan; let stand for 15 minutes. Add canned tomatoes and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add the next 5 ingredients and cook 5 minutes longer or until liquid has evaporated, stirring often.

Press pizza dough out onto a greased 12-inch pizza pan and spread with tomato mixture; if desired, arrange onions & meatballs on top. Sprinkle with cheese and bake in a 425°F oven 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

 

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Kitty is trying to kill himself.

It’s a dangerous situation.

Kitty is so happy when he thinks his people are coming home he runs under the front wheels of every vehicle pulling into our drive. If you look for him, when it gets dark he’s hard to see.

We don’t know how to break Kitty of his new habit. Some of the visitors to our house are older and have enough trouble negotiating around our trees, shrubs or the barn to consider watching out for our little cat.

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Kitty’s about to throw himself beneath a jeep wheel. Notice the tire tracks where he’s walking.

This week our horses kicked holes in the barn. We don’t keep them locked inside stalls. They can go inside or out at will. They’ve got free access to a big round bale of hay. They have a fan inside the barn. They have bug zappers. They have a drinking fountain.

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The kicked out side of our barn.

I think the horses and Kitty are missing DH.

DH loves having a farm and spends his days as if he were a paid hand. He mows, works in the barn, trims trees, cleans up trails, fixes fences and as he does chores, the horse’s noses are right up his back or over his shoulder. When DH is outside their pasture, the horses watch his every move from the closest fence corner.

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The not very remorseful barn kickers beg for treats.

Kitty lived wild and feral in DH’s woods for an entire year before DH was able to get close to him. He still spends most days outside. Only instead of being the cat that walked and lived alone, Kitty now follows DH like a dog. He is up and down ladders, running ahead of DH on paths in the woods and springing out from behind weeds to grab DH’s legs.

Lately though, DH has had obligations that have prevented him from being as available outside for our animals.

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Simba’s found a sack and total bliss.

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Biggs enjoys her favorite chair.

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The newest member of our family, Scooter, the hummingbird, sips nectar and entices Biggs who is watching out the window.

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Buster and DH greet Mr. Miller, the repairman who will be fixing our barn. The children soon are petting our horses although Mr. Miller said their horse is a new one. According to Mr. Miller, the new horse isn’t very well trained and behaved badly on the drive to look over our barn.

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It’s that time of year and animal hair is everywhere. Abby watches me sweep.

It is shedding season and over the past week with my daughter visiting, every day was a reminder that I really need to check out the animal Dyson vacuum cleaner. Dog and cat hair were everywhere and clinging to our clothes everytime we left the house.

 Our pets are a lot of work and a responsibility. They aren’t cheap with vet visits, expensive and endless desires for Fancy Feast, hay, treats, toys and barn destroying. But, their joy, when we come home, is so overwhelming you cannot help but know it’s love in its  purest and most unselfish  form.

Simba may mostly be DH’s cat, but this week it was my face he snuggled up to every night. And in the mornings  DH made coffee and Abby came and nuzzled my arm so I’d wake up right before it was ready. Somehow, someway, those pets instinctively became nurturing and extra affectionate.

Are our pets worth the inconvenience and expense?

Absolutely. We don’t miss or think about their cost in time or money.

But, we’d sure miss them.

More dog stories:

Two dogs and a cat go to the vet

My Big Fat Animals

“Bad Boy Buster” and Dog Whispering

More cat stories:

Two dogs and a cat go to the vet

The Cat Box

Cat Ladder

DH’s Cat Ladder Goes International

More Horse Stories:

Give me a kiss

Horses , Skipper Rears

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I would like to thank each and every person who commented on “Courage Defined”. Yes, I cried. But, I needed to. I cannot express how much of a comfort your words were.

A message from paperseedblog: Life is so fleeting, and its good to be reminded to feel blessed and savor every single moment; almost exactly quotes my father’s last words to my daughter.

Today, I reread a  poem my son wrote from Iraq a year ago.  In that poem I was surprised to also find my father’s message of appreciating every moment of life we are granted,  whatever our circumstances.

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My youngest child, the poet,  who also became a new father the week before my father died.

“Lady in Black”

I see her in every harvest crop
On every crumbling mountain top
In storming wind which rocks the trees
In eyes of men bowed upon knees.

With every second screaming by
With unsaid words long left to die
Who knows what face or purpose be
Behind she which sleeps eternally?

Some may court her to end their sorrow
For the rest she’ll wait beyond tomorrow
From there haunting your every dream
And the tangled web of thoughts you ream
For all men fear, and rightly so
This face one day we’ll come to know.

I know one day I’ll pass her gates
Which guard the path to God’s estates
Till then I’ll savor every breath
Before that date with Lady Death
.

Tuesday night my father died.

He had terminal cancer, congestive heart failure and failing kidneys. The last years of his life he slept in a recliner to breathe because fluid kept filling his lungs.

The daily newspaper and keeping up with goings on around town was my father’s pleasure. But, he developed a problem with his tear ducts. Not only did that prevent reading, but his cheeks were often chapped from being wet and wiped dry.

On good days my father was able to drink a couple of cans of Ensure. Other times he only finished half a can. Nothing else stayed down. With so little food, the weight drop and dehydration caused his arms to turn dark and purple, which itched. His arms became scratched and bruised. Because the cancer had spread to his bones, the pain was constant despite prescribed patches. The doctors kept upping the dosages. But care had to be used with medication because my father’s kidneys and heart were failing

Yet, almost to the end and on the last day of his life, my father was aware and communicating coherently.

I never knew a person who wanted to live or savored life more.

He refused to sign the “no code” papers.

“I want to be around a little longer,” he said, “the pain isn’t so bad.”

“What about prostate cancer vaccines?” my father asked the doctor who inquired if he had looked into hospice.

The doctor said it would be awhile before they were released and said he would discuss vaccines with my father then. Which to me was his way of telling my father he was going to be gone before that ever came about. It hurt to see my father’s lingering hopes so casually stomped out. I looked up the latest information online and was heartsick to find out that my father had already been alive long past the most optimistic results from the newest vaccines for his stage of cancer . I gave excuses to my father for not looking up and printing out for him the information he requested.

Last summer my father’s medication caused internal bleeding, a loss of 8 pints of blood, weeks in the hospital and a stay in a nursing home. Few would have survived the blood loss, even without cancer, congestive heart failure and poor kidney function. But, my father was motivated.

“I don’t want to die,” he said to my mother while they waited for the ambulance. “I don’t want to leave you.”

The doctors asked my father if he had a living will. He refused to answer. Despite his pain and limitations, he wouldn’t consider an end. Life still contained pleasures.

My father slept days so he could stay up late to listen to the RFD channel which featured old time country and western music in early morning hours. I remember how his eyes shined when he told my husband and I about a Statler Brothers’ special.

My mother’s Yorkshire terrier, Pixie, is something else. She doesn’t come when called most of the time. She digs into pockets and purses at every opportunity and refuses to give up her stolen treasures. She’s full of bounce and mischief. Yet, she was gentle and careful with my dad and often took naps with him on the recliner. I can’t believe I will never again see her cuddled up against his leg with my father absently stroking her.

More than anything else, and with every core of his being, my father loved my mother. He loved her voice, her moods, the way she loved animals. He loved the way she spent days and hours researching to get a piece of furniture in an exact color. Or repapering a kitchen wall because she’d decided she didn’t really like her first wallpaper choice. My father was as proud of her accomplishments as if they were his own.

And no matter how bad things were for him, mom was my dad’s main worry.

“Go see your mother,” he told me when I visited him in the nursing home. “She gets lonely.”

“Your mom is going to wear herself out coming back and forth to see me,” he said while he was in the hospital,” she doesn’t have to come tomorrow.”

During my father’s last good day, my daughter called him. They discussed stocks, one of dad’s favorite subjects. But, before they hung up, my father told my daughter to be happy, to do with her life what she wanted to do and not to waste a moment.

My son visited. He got a lecture on being careful with his money. Then before my son left the hospital room, my father asked him to stop. He told my son he loved him and said to stand there for awhile because he just wanted to look at him.

Soon afterwards my father was drowning from the fluid in his lungs and unable to breathe. He still would not discuss coding with hospital personnel. The doctor said that they could drain the lungs but there was a good chance they would fill again. I did not want my father to drown that way, scared, unable to breathe and knowing he was dying.

I see things differently than most people. My Living Will includes taking extraordinary measures.

Like my father, my happiness comes from life on this earth. I cannot imagine greater pleasures than seeing my husband’s special smile for me, hearing my child’s voice over the phone announcing a new baby on the way, hearing one of my daughter’s works has been published, burying my face in Simba’s cottony good smelling fur and kissing him all over or seeing Abby’s face light up when I say the words “walk “or “garden“. I want to stay here. Clouds and harps and song and light hold no attraction. I want to live.

My father took his last stand. He wanted his lungs drained. He was trying to do what he had been able to do so many times in the past. He was trying get better and go home. The operation was a success. His lungs were x-rayed and declared clear. I thought he‘d make it.

He always had.

Only my father’s voice became raspy. His face became ghostly and gray. He couldn’t talk. Trying drained him. He might be aware enough to see my husband and I and say, “How have you been?” Then he’d be gone. He slept most of the time. He’d smile to see family, but his eyes would roll back. He began breathing mainly through his mouth.

Tuesday the nurses called and said to come right away.

When we arrived at the hospital, my father didn’t seem to know us. My mother said she and my brother and I were with him now, that we loved him and that we would stay with him. She said he nodded.

The doctor ordered blood.

As the blood dripped into his arm, the change in my father was dramatic.

He rasped out a request for water. He was able to sip from a cup. He said something about home. Soon, we said, maybe tomorrow. My father’s heart rate began dropping. He started making the scrunching movements he makes when he needs to be raised in his chair to breathe better. He asked for air. He already was getting oxygen. We got a fan and blew it in his face and asked him if that was better. He nodded yes.

He said he hurt and tried to pull out his IV.” Hurt” he kept saying, and then he would beg for air.

I went out and talked to the nurse. She said because of my father’s heart and kidneys they could not give him pain medication because it would wipe him out. She said he had not had medicine for pain for two days. I asked if his lungs might be filling up again with fluid. She said they most likely were.

My father was drowning and hurting. I asked the nurse if he was going to die. She said he was, and that the best thing to do for him was to be with him and to hold his hands.

I started crying.

“He hurts. He‘s drowning and he knows it. He‘s scared.”

The nurse said she would talk to my mother and then talk to the doctor.

I went back to my father and watched my husband and brother try to make my dad more comfortable. He was squirming and trying to pick his shirt off. He pushed my hand away. He said something about my mom. Fortunately she soon came in.

“He wants you, mom.”

“I’m here. The kids are here,” my mother said. She put her hand over his.

“I love you. I‘m going to stay with you.”

Then, I saw the nurse. She had liquid medicine in a plastic cup and held a hypodermic. Softly she said the doctor had ordered morphine. I looked into her eyes and knew.

“Take your medicine so you’ll feel better,” my mom said.

“She’s giving you medicine so you can go home, Dad.” I said.

My dad relaxed. As dutifully as a little boy obeying his mother, my father pursed his lips. He sipped the drink. He then straightened his arm. The nurse injected morphine into the IV. My father’s face became soft. His breathing slowed. He quit gasping and picking at his shirt.

I watched the machine that had long ago started flashing red instead of green. My father’s heart rate dropped to twenty, then ten., My eyes began misting. I couldn’t look at my mom or brother. I looked across the room and saw my husband fold his hands in prayer.

My father was not a quitter. He raged and fought against the dark longer than I ever believed any human could have the strength. But, in the end he went gently.

For that I am grateful. I know his last thoughts were of home, my mother and all he loved most.

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Macho, tough Buster, chaser of cats and bully of Abby, is scared.

“Collars are cruel,” said DH, “they make dogs choke. Before we go to the vet, I’m getting harnesses.”

And he did.

But, it was as if Buster had ESP.

“Isn’t Buster pretty,” we said. “Good boy, Buster, beautiful Buster.”

Our talk didn’t fool Buster one bit. He cowered and shook with fear. He seemed to know what was coming.

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Buster is so upset because of the harness, I had to hold his head up to get him to look at me. He was also plotting his escape.

Buster wasn’t going sit and let it happen either. At the first opportunity he bolted through the dogdoor and hid in our backyard. DH had to go out and get him and carry him to the jeep.

In the meantime, I was in charge of putting Biggs in the cat carrier. 

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Biggs inspects the cat carrier.

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Then Biggs strolls on in.

I had only to shut the cat carrier door after Biggs went in on her own. Abby proudly let me put her regular collar on, strutted out to the jeep and hopped in. Except for Abby getting carsick and drooling and Biggs meowing, the ride to Maplecrest Animal Hospital was uneventful. 

Once we got to there, Abby practically drug me into the front waiting room. Then, DH signed everyone in and Buster retreated to hide in the corner with his head under a chair.

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Buster is still wide-eyed. Abby is calm, but soon drooling from carsickness.

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Buster hiding in the corner of the waiting room.

There was a different veterinarian in the office today, Dr. Jeff Longenbaugh. He won Abby and I over when he said her weight was just fine. Biggs didn’t fare as well. Eleven and a half pounds is a lot for such a small boned cat. But, despite all the talk about her fatness, Biggs purred contentedly through the examination and her vacinations.

 Buster didn’t recognize the vet and clung to him avoiding DH and I. I think Buster was remembering past times DH and I had betrayed him in the examining room. Once the vet took out the syringe to draw blood, though, DH had to help hold Buster down.

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Biggs purrs through her embarrassing weigh-in and vaccinations.

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Abby had an old scab from a tick bite.

No fleas, ear mites, heartworms or signs of problems. Everyone got a clean bill of health. DH paid.

We will be back again next year. In the meantime, I would like to thank the veterinarian, Dr. Jeff Longenbaugh and the staff at Maplecrest Animal Hospital.

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Maplecrest Animal Hospital’s staff is hard at work.

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The dogs lie low on the way home.

Other posts about Buster, Abby and Biggs include:

http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/08/14/my-big-fat-animals/

http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/08/02/bad-boy-buster-temptation-and-dog-whispering/

http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/07/09/the-cat-ladder/

http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/06/10/the-cat-box/

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hottie_33.jpg My “look” was a combination of Cher, Cleopatra and Morticia from the Adam’s Family. It took hours to get it right.

I was fifteen. It was my birthday and I was going on a “real” dinner date. 

It was also the first time I ate at a restaurant where  the person behind the counter didn’t ask if I wanted fries along with with the main course.

I’d spent hours getting ready.

My eyes were sexily ringed like Cleopatra’s. My lips were heavily coated in peppermint pink for maximum kissability. My dress was maroon with an empire waist and mini skirt. My shoes were clogs with big silver buckles. I’d poured “My Sin” by Lanvin over my pulse points every time I couldn’t smell myself.  And my long ironed hair hung down past my shoulders, like Morticia’s from the Adam’s family. Except, in my mind,  it was swinging from side to side like Cher’s did when she strutted onstage.

hottie1.jpg My, fried from being ironed, dark hair was my pride and joy. In humid weather curls still managed to sneak out.

Only “he” was 15 minutes late. Which cause me to overcomb and  flatten the top part of the hair I’d teased to perfection. My stomach was in knots.

But, I had only to smell his English Leather cologne that filled my parents front room and see his sporty, Madras plaid jacket to forget his breach. It was a wonderful start to an evening I expected to get better.

I wasn’t disappointed.

“He” took me to the M&M, a restaurant with early American maple tables, waitresses with red checked aprons and paper napkins. I’d never before had shrimp and saw the listing of breaded popcorn shrimp on the menu as proof I was in a top-rated place. Molded jello desserts on the buffet table were further evidence of sophistication.

“He” gave me a necklace with a single pearl for my birthday and his class ring. 

me_young21.jpg The pearl necklace is featured prominantly in this picture.

I had a boyfriend. 

With a ring to wear on a chain conspiciously around my neck or to cover with mohair and brush with a toothbrush in study hall, I was no longer an “unwanted”. I had a name to write over and over across my notebooks. And a “him” with wonderfully cute bad habits to complain about to those nearest and dearest.

 I will never forget that birthday. The M&M has been long gone. But, I do have a recipe that accurately replicates the cucumber mousse served on The M&M’s buffet.

It was and is still a favorite side dish.

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We have cucumbers and tomatoes in abundance. Using them up in different ways is a challenge.

CUCUMBER MOUSSE

  • 1 package lime-flavored gelatin
  • 3/4 c hot water
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 1 T grated onion
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 cup cucumber, pared, seeded, lightly salted and chopped
  • Dissolve gelatin in water. Add lemon juice and onion. Chill until almost set. Stir in sour cream and cucumbers. Fill a wet mold with mixture and chill thoroughly. When set, invert onto a platter and garnish.

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    Cucumber mousse topped with a little mayonaise and served over lettuce makes a refreshing and different side salad.

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    Skipper being led to the riding enclosure by DH’s nephew.

    Skipper reared today.

    I’ve had him for almost 3 years and he’s been a dream. He is 15 years old. A former child’s 4-H pleasure champion with perfect gaits, he’s child safe and has good sense. Or at least that’s what I thought. 

    My other horse, Summer, is six. She’s flighty and nervous. She loves DH, tolerates me and is wary of everyone else. I also saw her buck like a bronc soon after I got her. 

    A birthday present from DH the first year we were married, she was by far, my best birthday present ever. Perfectly proportioned, with a tiny head and ears, intelligent alert eyes and a typical quarter horse rump, Summer is a gorgeous bay. Her red coat gleams, her muzzle sock, mane and tail are coaly black. Her eyes are are exotically rimmed in black. I fell in love immediately. However, it was soon apparent that she needed work. She didn’t neck rein. She was nervous and spooked easily.  She stomped her feet, turned her rear toward me in the stall, crowded people, used them for scratching posts and worse sometimes flattened her ears and threatened if approached. 

    blog-pictures-5-020.jpg  Summer & I.

    I hired a horsetrainer who said she had an attitude problem and took her off to his farm for two months of schooling. That’s where I saw her buck. DH and I were at the trainers  watching her being schooled. The trainer was showing us what they’d been working on. Summer saw us by the fence and decided she’d had enough training. She bucked. She bucked as viciously and hard as any rodeo horse being spurred and abused. The trainer, whose hobby is rodeo contesting, stayed on. He got her calmed down, rode her until she was tired and then I forced myself to get on her back and rode her around the ring as instructed. I pretended to be calm because I didn’t want to show misgivings and hurt the trainer’s feelings. Or appear anything but thrilled with my birthday present. But, I was afraid.

    Summer graduated from Training School and returned home. But our relationship was changed. Because I knew if she ever bucked that hard with me, I’d be a goner.

    Today DH’s family joined us on the farm for a barbeque and DH’s nephews wanted to ride the horses. Marc, is an experienced rider and he rides Summer on every visit. I think he likes knowing of her wicked past and knowing he is skilled enough to deal with it.

    Steven rode Skipper, formerly known as the “one anybody can ride”.

    Steven was holding Skipper to a walk and Summer got ahead. Which wouldn’t have been a huge problem except Marc wanted to go faster and Steven still wanted to walk. That’s when disaster struck. Skipper wanted to run too. He reared and did some wimpy bucks. There was no danger of Steven being thrown. But, he was nervous and done riding.

    Steven got off. Now Skipper was proud as punch. Nostrils flaring, he pranced when I lugged myself up into the saddle cursing (in my head) that I was wearing my too tight skinny jeans.  But, no way was I going to reward him for his antics. Skinny jeans and hot sun notwithstanding, we were going to walk, trot and canter around the enclosure until Skipper didn’t care which horse was first.

    And we did.

    Summer, I am proud to say, was a perfect lady the whole time.

    blog-pictures-5-021.jpg Summer talks & gives kisses.

    For dinner we had grilled pork chops, pasta salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and onions with sour cream, green beens from the garden, sweet corn from Mrs. Weaver’s vegetable stand, coleslaw (from the grocery deli) and cherry pie (from our farmer’s market).

    dsc00320.jpg Getting the cucumbers and onions ready.

    SOUR CREAM CUCUMBERS

    Sour cream cucumbers are a popular dish at midwest family gatherings. They always make me think of summer and my mother’s garden.

    2 large cucumbers peeled and sliced

    1 onion sliced into rings

    3/4 cup sour cream

    3 tablespoons cider vinegar

    2 tablespoons sugar

    salt and pepper to taste

    In a bowl combine the cucumber and onion. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over cucumbers. Mix well. Chill.

     UPDATE: Rockyroadoflove has suggested an old southern method to make these cucumbers more crisp and flavorful. She uses salted ice water and says it works wonders for cucumbers. My cucumbers were good as they were, but I think Rockyroadoflove’s technique will make them even better.

    Rockyroadoflove’s cucumber article is here:
    http://rockyroadoflove.wordpress.com/2007/08/14/marinated-cucumbers-in-sour-cream/

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    Sour cream cucumbers with mixed herbs sprinkled over them.

    dsc00328.jpg
    Pasta salad with fresh tomatoes and creamy parmesan dressing.

    I cheated with my pasta and used a box of Betty Crocker’s Suddenly Pasta mix. I followed the directions on the box and then added fresh, lightly salted cut up tomatoes. I sprinkled herbs over them also, hoping they would look more homemade.

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    The green beans are snapped and ready and the corn is being shucked.

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    Handsome Buster loves DH and going after cats, deer, racoons and rabbits.

    “Buster doesn’t chase,” says DH, “he’s part Australian Shepherd. He herds.”

    DH talks about the time he saw Buster “herd” 23 deer. According to DH, Buster  flat-out ran after them yipping his deer yip and drove them into our woods.

    “I wish I had a camera,” DH says. “Buster was so proud.”

    Unfortunately, Buster could someday pay a price for his happiest moments.

    Neither Buster, or our other dog, Abby always come when called. Deer, rabbits and squirrels are too enticing. Interesting trails are also irresistable.

    blog-pictures-038.jpg
    Temptation…notice the deer tracks on the trail in our woods.

    Sometimes it’s a long time before the dogs come back.  We worry. There are nearby roads and neighbors protecting livestock.  In the fall there is hunting season and hunters.

    Oh, and the smell. Our dogs roll in deer poop. They eat horse poop. Smelly marsh muck clings to feet, legs and bellies. Which makes their indiscretion all the better. The dogs practically smile as they pant.

    houses-and-flowers-and-trails-026.jpg
    Buster and Abby run through the willows.

    Buster is not only a hunter, he is also a natural herder. Part lab, with a little border collie and a lot of Australian shepherd, Buster often does the snaking neck and goes into a herding crouch. His  “stare down” is intimidating. As jealous as the most suspicious wife Buster guards DH. His “look” effectively keeps rivals out of the same room.

    “Buster…noooooo,” I say, gathering up a cowering Abby or cat wanting to be with us.  Buster retreats still sneaking in his glares.

    “Mom, why does Buster act so nervous around you?” my daughter asked on her last visit.

    “Because, I’m training him. He’s learning to walk on a leash,” I told her. Which didn’t adequately describe the experience of a gagging, gasping and squealing Buster trying to escape.

    “Awwwwww, poor Buster, you’re choking him,” said DH.

    “Don’t say awwwwww in front of him. We need to act like this is no big deal. Maybe if he can’t see you…”

    Miraculously, that worked.

     Soon after DH went into the house Buster  was walking at my side in a way that if it wouldn’t make Cesar proud, was at least respectable. 

    Our other dog, Abby, took to the leash as if  she had gone through obedience school as a pup. Even when visiting the vet, she prances and her tail wags. 

    Sadly, more often than not, snap on a leash and Buster’s head goes down, along with his ears and tail. His eyes are mournful and sad. He looks at DH pleadingly.

    “What have I done to deserve this abuse?”

    I have had to compromise on leashes.

    The dogs are tethered by our voices during the day on walks. After dusk, when the deer and rabbits are out, DH says we will use leashes. He also agreed to leashes during hunting season.

    Admittedly, my insistance that we  use leashes in the veterinary office makes them more horrendous for Buster. He hates the vet. Before leash training, Buster once got away from DH and crawled under our jeep in the veterinary parking lot.

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    DH, Abby, Buster, our woods and our trails.

    Today, on our walk, temptation again won out over training. We hadn’t gone far before the dogs smelled something and took off.

    Fortunately, Abby wasn’t gone long. And DH had an idea.

    Instead of calling and calling for Buster, and then going into the woods trying to find him,  DH turned the other way and headed toward the house.

    As he walked, he praised Abby, “Good girl, Abby. Good dog, Abby.” he said loudly, ” What a good Abby…I like Abby best.”

    Guess who came running?

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    “Beautiful Buster”

    Other posts including Buster are:

    http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/07/09/the-cat-ladder/

    http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/06/10/the-cat-box/

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