Saturday, November 24, 2012


I hope everyone had a memorable Thanksgiving
 I know I did in a way I never would have imagined.

My Father-in-law suffered a stroke 7 months ago. Luckily, he has regained most of his motor skills that he lost but is now what I would describe as fragile. His gait is different but the biggest change is his mental sharpness. Him and I talk about it every time we get together since it is something that we have in common. Because of my illness, I suffered a stroke like episode in December 2 years ago. Since then, I suffer from what they call "brain fog".  The worst part is not the forgetting or not being able to think quickly part, but the way people treat you differently now, even loved ones. So this is what my Father-in-law and I have in common and we have formed a bond over this "thing" that makes us seem half of the person we used to be to our friends and family.

Back to Thanksgiving and my Father-in-law.

He lives about an hour from us in a very rural area. He is by his own choice, a hermit, just far enough away from family meddlings yet close enough to attend important family events.AND, he always has the excuse of not feeling up to driving that far to attend a family function if he does not want to attend. Perfect for him but not so much for his 3 sons. They worry, they are angry, they are confused that he does not want to be closer physically to them.
My husband, the oldest of the 3 boys confided in me that all he wanted to do on Thanksgiving is BE WITH his Pop, he did not care how or where, he just wanted to be with his Pop.....Thanksgiving.

So, with some persistence we finally got Pop to agree to have Thanksgiving with us, at a CASINO buffet dinner. What????????? How could I go from having everyone over for a huge dinner cooked by me to having Thanksgiving dinner at a small smokey casino buffet? It took me a couple of days to wrap my head around this concept.

Everything began to fall into place like magic. No one could commit to dinner on Thanksgiving day but could easily be at our house for a big dinner in a week more or that everyone could attend ( reality of divorce and mixed families). I was thrilled because the only thing that mattered to us was that we could be with 2 of our grandchildren and other loved ones all together on one day, does not matter the day....Thanksgiving.

So....we drive to the casino and meet Pop in the parking lot. He is disheveled and wobbly. The snappy, immaculate dresser and not one hair out of place Pop that we all knew and joked about is gone. BUT....he is happy, he is excited, he is in his element, his world, not ours.He is thrilled that all we are asking of him is his company, his way, not ours...Thanksgiving.

I walk in to this dark, not as smoky as I imagined ,world of a small town casino on a Thanksgiving day. My cynical side immediately wants to take pictures of the people that by first appearances put the "Walmart people" to shame. Here we are , amongst the outcasts, the group of souls that have no place to go for Thanksgiving.....
As we walk thru the Casino I realize that these people are genuinely happy and happy to see each other, this is their "relatives house" that they come to for love and acceptance. It does not matter where they are, it matters who they are with........Thanksgiving.

I start people watching as we are waiting for the buffet to open it's doors. I planted myself at a 1 cent machine, feed it $12 and play while I listen and watch.

People greeted each other, shook hands, hug. Questions are about family, health, how much have you won, did you sign up for the special raffle.  No innuendos about the way you are dressed or your choice of dish to bring, no high pressure to perform perfectly as a host, hostess, wife, mother, daughter, or any family member not mentioned, no battle of wills, no too high expectations not met, no feelings trampled on....Thanksgiving.

In line for the buffet, the cashier seems generally happy to see people, calls people by their first names, laughs and jokes with the people she does not know, and even though she is not at home but working on Thanksgiving, seems truly happy to be there, way more than the obligatory employee courtesy you would expect. So is the hostess and the server. There are even hugs and friendly long conversations with the regulars......Thanksgiving.

I had a wonderful time with my husband and Pop during dinner, great conversation and lots of laughter, especially between my husband and his Pop as they reminisced about past Thanksgivings. Nothing wobbly, disheveled, or forgetful  about Pop now.....Thanksgiving.

So besides winning $48, I got to release myself from that peg I jammed myself into about Thanksgiving, I enjoyed the company and friendship of  my father-in-law, my husband, and alot of strangers who are not strange at all but who know that it does not matter where you are, as long as you are accepted and belong, you are blessed....Thanksgiving.

Friday, March 2, 2012

La Coop Grand Hotel

Usually being a Craigslist addict gets me in trouble. There is not a day that goes by that I cannot find a great deal. Our outside area is proof of that. Stacked everywhere are the deals I could not pass up. It has paid off occasionally, like the time I built a small addition to our existing barn with wood from my treasure piles. I have also made a couple of  25' long garden beds with my great deals.

My husband tries to reason with me, no more deals. Don't even look at Craigslist......yeah, right, ok. I wish they had meetings so that I could go rid myself of this addiction. Now that I am retired, I have justified my searches with only looking at the free listings, well, most of the time.

OK, now the story of the grand chicken coop that we are building. As I was "just looking" one day on Craigslist, I saw this ad for a shed that had been torn down and was this horrible looking pile of wood in a driveway for $50. Fifty dollars! I could not let this one go, I had to be the one to get the deal of the century. Like a drug dealer calling me up with a clearance sale on some drug.....So I called the number on the ad. Several other people had also called ahead of me. I kept calling her, yes, people came to look at the pile but walked away.Yes, I was getting further up the list.

Finally, after 3 days, she called to tell me it was still available and I could come look at it. It looked horrible. Just this huge pile of splintered wood full of nails that no matter how hard I tried, I could not see anything that looked remotely like a shed until I got to the bottom of the pile, there they were, beautiful large double doors that even had a locking mechanism, these doors looked exactly like the kind on a "Tuff Shed"! I could not give her the money fast enough. Problem was, she required the shed to be removed from the driveway immediately.  I told her that it would be gone by the end of the day. My grandson and I made 3 trips with the big truck and I had my shed.

Now, to figure out how to piece it back together! The seller had no plans, no information except that it was a 12x12 shed. My husband found the same type of shed at Home Depot and took alot of pictures inside and out to use as a reference for building. By the way, the shed at Home Depot sells for $3,400 !! Some of my husband's military buddies showed up one rainy weekend, I kept them happy with lots of good food and beer and ta da! A chicken coop rose from the pile of wood!

I knew that a 12x12 shed is big but this thing is massive! There is a place for a window, and we are adding corrugated plastic skylights on both sides.

The second picture shows how big it is on the inside, Hubby is installing the nesting boxes on one side with a hatch on the outside so that I can gather eggs from the outside if I want.

I cannot wait until it is done, which I hope will be this weekend if the weather cooperates with us. And as an added bonus it matches our existing barn! I have big plans for this grand hotel for hens. Once it gets painted on the outside, my granddaughter and her best friend are coming over to paint murals on the outside. It will be so cute! We also are going to paint signs for the coop and the chicken pasture. Since I do not have any roosters, my granddaughter wants to paint a sign to go over the door that says,


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Feels Like Spring To Me.........

The air is cold but the sun is out and my daffodils believe that it is at least late March.
The fruit trees are budding out and will explode with blossoms this week with all this sunny weather. Just in time for the rain to knock all those blooms off if the weather man is correct about NEXT week!
Speaking of fruit trees, this past weekend I planted 6 more. I picked out different types of trees this time, not just the good old standbys. I picked 2 Cherry trees, a Pluot ( which my oldest grandson loves), a Babcock Peach, a hybrid peach/nectarine tree that I never heard of, and an Almond tree. It will be fun to watch them grow and which ones will do well. I also tried a new way to plant them. Since we live in a flood plane and trees generally struggle because of the clay soil, standing water in the winter, and the monster Gophers we have, I planted them in heavy duty wire baskets ON top of the existing soil. Hmmmmm......they look really funny now but my neighbor who is a Master Gardner swears by this method. First I placed the large wire basket on top of the existing soil, filled the basket about half full of my best black compost, placed the tree and tree stake on top of this, then filled up and around the basket with horse poop/shavings. To hold it all together, I then built a wooden bed around the perimeter.

We will see how this works. I look at my neighbor's trees and they are flourishing!
Notice the new barn in the back without a roof or paint job? That is the new and improved HUGE chicken coop.
I will tell you all about it in the next blog. Until then, enjoy the nice weather before winter returns.
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