Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tucker And The Attic

Tucker is a three year old beautiful Main Coon cat. We adopted him after I saw his picture on a website for Main Coons and I fell in love with him. He has the most expressive face I have ever seen in a cat, and I have been a cat lover all my life. Sometimes his face is so expressive, he looks like a person. Other times he looks like a wise old inscrutable owl. Tucker has a very goofy personality. He is very loving and affectionate, but he can be so silly. He and Keifer, his cat brother, will play chase throughout the house, running up and down the stairs, screeching round corners on two paws, crashing into walls.

Tucker learned very early how to open our lever handled doors. In fact, he taught Keifer and Bocephus, the Wonder Dog how to open them, so that now when he walks up to a closed door, he sits and waits for one of them to open it for him. We have had to put child-proof locks on all the doors because we don’t want them to get in certain door. For example, we have a door in our video room upstairs that leads to the attic. The cats love to sneak into the attic and go exploring, and we have never been comfortable with letting them have free roam up there with all the wiring and insulation.

One Sunday morning about a week before we left on vacation, someone left the door to the attic unlocked, and while we were at church, Tucker decided to have a grand adventure and explore the attic. When I came home from church I could hear a cat meow as soon as I came in the door. Sometimes when I am in the house, the outside cats will come up on the porch and meow for me to come out for a petting session. I opened the door--no cat. I went up stairs to change clothes and noticed the attic door open. I went in, called Kitty-kitty, didn’t hear anything and came out and locked the door. I went on about my business, but as I came down stairs I could hear a cat calling again. I went to the front door--no cat. I started walking through the house calling, and Keifer came running. I started calling Tucker, and I could hear him meow. Now, Tucker is known for getting closed up in some spot--the coat closet and the pantry are two of his favorite napping spots so I check them first. I notice as I go through the house that the meows get louder right around the front door/office area. By the time Husband gets home, I am frantic. Gradually, we come to realize Tucker is in the wall! By this time everyone is gathered around talking excitedly, Bocephus is there barking at the wall, Keifer, is meowing at the wall, and Christina (daughter’s dog, and Bo’s litter-mate) has joined the excitement. Granddaughter’s are crying because they don’t want Tucker to die. Husband is having a melt-down because his mind is racing--cat in the wall--hole in the wall--vet bills--repair bills--having to get it all done before vacation. I take granddaughters and animals upstairs to the video room--explain no deaths will occur, but must have calm in order to complete the rescue. Their job is to keep the dogs in the video room until the ordeal is over. Back downstairs to rescue NOT underway. Husband is pacing, not wanting to tear a hole in wall. I suggest no hole is needed--just a neat little square taken out near the baseboard, just large enough for one cat to be extracted. Square neatly taped back, a little spackle and paint, and VOILA! Good as new! Meanwhile, Tucker has taken up a pitiful continuous mew, which sounded like, “ Mom, get me out, get me out! I’m scared!”

Husband finds the tools he thinks he will need, and commences to cut a nice neat square out of the wall. Out pops a white dusty Tucker with a, “Meow! What took you so long?” He plops down on the floor, the girls and dogs come racing down the stairs to see for themselves that Tucker is alive and well. Bocephus has to sniff Tuck up and down and back again. After the excitement died down, I checked him to make sure he didn’t have any cuts or injuries, and he seemed to be no worse for wear, almost acting like it had been a grand adventure. Life can’t get any crazier can it? Oh, but wait until I tell you what happened the night, or should I say three in the morning that we left for vacation…but that’s another story.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Little Engine That Could

I think I can, I think I can has become my mantra now that August is upon us. I think I can make it until October when we will get some relief from the heat and hopefully the drought. I like to think of this time of year as our deep winter (think cool thoughts) and I am planning and dreaming of what I am going to do when the weather cools down and I can once again get back into the garden. I have beds to enlarge and plants waiting on the porch to be planted when cool weather will keep them from going into shock and burn. But with the temperature being One Hundred and Three in the shade, dreaming is all I am going to be doing! I am lucky to get out for maybe half an hour before dark to water, but the cool of the morning is the best time to be out now. I find myself getting up earlier and earlier to get as much done as I can before it heats up. The only thing that appeals to me now, is living in a dark movie theater, but there are not that many good movies out this summer. Hmmmmm, an Alaskan cruise sounds delicious. Do they have any that last for two months?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hello Dolly

...and goodbye--we hardly knew ye. Dolly has come, and is on her way out bringing lots of rain with her. We are grateful for the respite in one hundred degree temperatures, and the rain that we have gotten from her. But, I am reminded of those whose impact from her is more severe. Some areas got up to six inches or more, and there are reports of power outages. I hope there are no fatalities or injuries from this storm. When I lived in Houston, there were always tropical storms kicking up their heels in the gulf, and we were always wary. I road out Hurricane Alicia huddled in a closed bathroom with my three children in the dark except for a flashlight. We were without power for three or four days--long enough to become grateful for cold showers to cool off, but having to boil water and cook on the grill. The kids thought it was great camping out kind of fun, but I said I would never ride another hurricane out. It gives you a whole new respect and awe for the power of nature.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I remember my mother and grandmother talking garden when I was growing up. It centered mainly around what kind of beans were best to grow, the sweetest corn, how many tomatoes to put in, where to put the onions. Practical stuff. We always had a huge garden, and my grandparents would come out on weekends and help with it. Canning was serious business around our house, and the kitchen would be hot and steamy from the processing of all the veggies. We never had air conditioning--that was for rich folks! I don't know how she stood the heat, but boy, the smells coming out of the kitchen would be fantastic. All the food Mom put up would last us through the winter. Gardening wasn't just a hobby, it was a necessity!

But I remember Mom having flowers too, and she always let me help with planting the garden (or at least, I thought I was helping) and she would let me have a patch to call my own. I remember the fantastic poppies along the fence row, the lilacs, and the roses. Grandma had to have pansies and johnny-jump-ups, marigolds, hollyhocks, and peonies. Mom was more adventuresome than Grandma, both in flowers and vegetables, always trying new things. I remember one year when she planted a whole row of spaghetti squash. We ate it all summer long it seemed. I thought we were going to have it growing out our ears! But, today I love spaghetti squash, and I love to try new things--in the garden, in the kitchen--in life. Thanks Mom!

This is a picture of my mother at my sister's house. Part of our vacation was to see DH's family in Arkansas, and then mine in Illinois. We take our time on the road, and stop at every antique store between here and there. We have our favorites that we stop at every year, and then new ones we love to discover. Mom went with us to a new one we discovered in Princeton. We were worn out by the time we were through, but we all had a good time and came home with a few goodies.
My sister's cat, Kitty, knows a soft lap and a gentle heart when she sees my mom.

The rest of the pictures are of flowers from my mother's garden. I have developed my passion for gardening from her. She fusses every year that she has to quite gardening, but I think she enjoys them too much to give them up entirely. I keep telling her to container garden. Just pot some flowers on her back step and patio where she would sit and enjoy them, but I think she enjoys her wild flowers too much to give them up.

Another attempt at a bee picture. The bee was so heavy he was having trouble landing on the bachelor buttons, but he finally managed.

I hope you enjoyed the walk around my mother's garden as much as I did. It will have to last me until next year.

End Of June Blooms

So far, the garden has held it's own in this heat. Here's what was blooming before we left on vacation at the end of June.

And this bloom is the sweetest bloom of all, and the one I will miss most on vacation...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Kenny The Russet Hound


Charlotte is going to be a vet when she grows up. She is going to have a big ranch to house all the animals that she wants that I won’t let her have. She wants ferrets, pigs, snakes, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, dogs, cats, pigs, cows, horses, chickens. You name it--she wants it. Every time I buy the dogs stuffed animals to play with, Charlotte rescues them. Her bed is a sea of stuffed animals. She has a clothes basket full of stuffed animals (she doesn’t know it, but we have garbage bags full of stuffed animals that are hers that we don’t have room for packed away in the attic). But more than anything, Charlotte wants a Basset Hound. She is always asking me for one. A stuffed one, yes, she wants the Webkinz basset hound, but more than anything, she wants a real live basset hound. I am the meanest Grammy in the world because I won’t get another dog.
One day a couple of months ago, I was dumping a bag of russet potatoes in a pan to scrub and peel for mashed potatoes. Charlotte came in, squealed, and said, “Oh Grammy, It’s Kenny the russet hound”. She grabbed one of the potatoes, and took off with it. She gets her craft supplies and is busy cutting and gluing. She glues googley eyes on the potato. Next she glues on a little black pom pom nose. Tan felt for ears and tail. I laughed when I saw it, and told Janet to come look at Kenny the russet hound. Charlotte gets that look of barely contained impatience with my slowness, and says, “Well Grammy, after all, it IS a russet potato.”
I have heard artists say they don’t carve an image out of stone (or whatever medium they are working in), but they just “let out” the figure that is captured inside. I have seen artists use stones for animal drawings, but I think this is the first time I have known someone to see the hound in a russet potato. Charlotte is going to be a vet and an artist--and no telling what else that child will be--whatever she sets her mind to be that is for sure!

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Remember that first week back in school as a kid? Every teacher invariably made you write a paper about what you did during the summer. Other kids wrote about great vacations--Disney World, the beach, the lake, etc. Mine were always so boring. I slept late, watched TV, read, went to the library, read some more, washed dishes (because I had such a MEAN mom that actually made me work!!!), blah, blah, blah. Well, times have changed, and I wish I knew where Mrs. Wistead is today, so I could give her a different point of view!

We just got back from our annual trip to see the family. First we went to Arkansas to see my DH's side, then up to northern Illinois to see mine. Seven states total, and we never just drive to one place to the next. Thankfully, I am married to a wonderful man who loves to stop at every antique store from point A to point B! We came home loaded down with treasures. The granddaughters are always excited when we come home because it is like Christmas (as a matter of fact, I do start my Christmas shopping on our vacation every year). I was able to find Libby 8 Nancy Drew books that she hasn't read, and Charlotte was excited to get two new additions to her webkinz menagerie.

I still haven't gotten back on track yet. I am sure that it will take a week or two, and my oh my, it hurt Sunday when we had to be awakened by a rude ole alarm clock! I was hurtin' for certain and very glad that our church has two services, so I could make the second one because I couldn't make myself move fast enough to make our usual first service. Sometimes I feel like it's not worth taking time off because it is so hard to get back into the groove after two weeks of eating out and having fun, fun, fun!

But even in the midst of our good times, we had reality smack us a couple of times. The day we left, the roofers finally put on a new roof (translation: major bucks!) and they called while we were on the road--where's the money??? Several days into our trip, our daughter that lives with us called to say she had car trouble and had put her car in the shop. She was using our car to ferry the granddaughters back and forth, and it broke down on her! She managed to get it to a gas station, and through the magic of cell phones we were able to get it towed to our personal machanic. If you don't have one that you personally know, I highly recommend it! This is a man we go to church with, have known for years, and know that he has our best interest at heart. When our daughter called me to give me the bad news, the first thing I thought of was thank goodness I can call David!

I has Janet give me his number, and I gave him a call. It was about one in the afternoon when I got in touch with him. After I told him who I was, I said, "David, are you busy?"

He said, "No, I'm just sitting down for a bite of lunch."

"Well", I said, "I don't want to keep you, but I was wondering if I had my car towed over to your house, if you could look at it and see if you could repair it."

"Well, sure", he said, " but I'm not a mechanic".

Long story, short. I had dialed the wrong number! I finally figured that I had dialed the area code of where we had been in Arkansas, and had called someone in the Searcy area. What are the odds that I would call someone with the same name as the man I was trying to reach in Austin, Texas? Not only that, but it just renewed my faith in man-kind, because here was this man who didn't know me from Adam, and was willing to let me tow my car to his house to figure out what was wrong with it? I still chuckle over that one every time I think of it.

We went through Iowa and Illinois, and saw some of the areas that had been so hard hit with rain and flooding. This summer has got to be one of the wettest (for them) on record. My brother and his wife were flooded out twice this year. I kept hearing dire predictions about the farmers not being able to plant corn, but even thought some of the corn was shorter than I had ever seen it at this time of year, it was still taller than "knee high by the fourth of July". A lot of the corn looked beautiful and lush, but as soon as we got back to Texas, it was done--crispier than Grandma's Fried Chicken! I think the most beautiful thing I saw was in Kansas. On the toll road there was field after field of sunflowers. It was breathtaking, and brought to mind, Van Gogh's Sunflowers. But the artistry and the geometry that a farmer can produce in planting row after row and field after field of sunflowers is something that even Van Gogh couldn't duplicate. As we drove near, one just saw green, and as you passed the plants, you saw the precision of the rows, and even though I had to turn my head , as we passed, the golden yellow heads nodding as we drove by as if to say, "Hello, and a glorious good day to you!"

In between our family visit's, we took a couple of days to (you guessed it) antique. We stayed at a bed and breakfast in Liberty Missouri, which is just north of Kansas City. We try to do something special for our anniversary on the 4th of July every year.We couldn't have picked a better place! It was lovely, and the owners were so nice--we felt more like we were staying with relatives or really good friends! The house was built in 1889, and they have decorated it beautifully. Our bedroom and bath was luxurious. We felt so pampered and spoiled! Not only did they fix us a feast for breakfast, but desert in the evening when we got back from dinner! If you ever have a chance to go through Kansas City, stay at the Stone-Yancey House. You won't be sorry. Here is a link to their website: http://www.stoneyanceyhouse.com/.