After traveling to our annual week-long meeting for work, then coming home to unpack, only to repack for an impromptu trip, I decided I have been traveling too much.

Signs you have been gone for too long:
1. You can’t sleep in your own bed. You wish you were back in the comfort of the hotel mattress.
2. Torpedo growls at you when you get out of the car.
3. You did all the laundry before you left. You get back and all the dirty laundry is back.
4. You grab your phone to dial the front desk for a wake up call.
5. In the wee hours of the morning, you run into the wall when walking to the bathroom.
6. You can smell the fragrance of your detergent and dryer sheets in your sheets and clothes.
7. There are no groceries in your house. The dirty laundry makers have also eaten all the food.

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Newt and I were shopping for a new(er) ranch pickup. The salesman was showing us around the lot, looking at potential models.

“This model is our least expensive…only $60,000.” I gasped under my breath- our budget was half that and I knew the resale value would be way under that amount.

“There are only donuts on the tires” I pointed out to the salesman. Those little tires in your trunk that you can’t go over 40 miles an hour in. He nodded and gave me a toothy grin.

“Those tires are standard. Regular tires are an upgrade.” Another toothy grin with no response to my horror.

“What if we already have tires? Can we bring those and put them on?”

Toothy grin, “Oh, yes. But that upgrade would required reinforcing the tie rods. The tie rods would buckle under the weight of a real tire…”
And then I woke up from my bad dream. A combination of thoughts on buying a different ranch pickup and my horrible experience at the “manufactured” home dealership.

We haven’t bought a pickup yet, but I can tell you what I learned at the home dealership:
*a single wide trailer house is $80K unless you want to live in a inferior quality home (ie. plastic sinks, plastic wall coverings, cheap everything)
*did I mention the nicest house in Tiny Town sells for $90K (no resale value whatsoever)
*don’t replace the siding- the walls are not strong enough for “real” siding and they will collapse under the weight
*drywall screws??- they use nails, which were starting to pop out in the model homes (less than a year old)
*the doors and windows do not have headers to support them.

Sigh. The house hunt is still on, but I’m not sure I can afford to live in an overpriced tin can with no resale value. I can’t find a carpenter to refinish the Yellow House and its sale is pending, and I don’t feel comfortable building a house on leased land we may never own.

Sigh. My expectations of a well built house have went up too much. Darn you, Mike Holmes, Mr. Do-It-Right-The-First-Time-or-You-Will-Pay-for-It-Later! Darn you, rural life so far from anything.

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Coping with the Time Change

Straddling the time zone line can be a challenge. It is your time or my time? Mountain Time or Central Time? It gets confusing.

Then throw in the time change and my internal clock is messed up. I was thinking of this in the wee hours of the morning (2 am new time, but really it is 3 am old time). I was having a hard time adjusting my new bedtime.

And then I wished I could be like the Time Zone Straddlers north of us.

Most of the ranchers are old(er) and their kids are grown and gone. Which means no school schedule, no worry of missing the bus, time is just a number on the dial…

Instead of changing their clocks every year, they just change time zones.

Yes, you heard that right. Time zones.

For the last few months, they have been running on Central Time. Instead of resetting every last clock in their house (or pickup), they merely change back to Mountain Time in the fall.

In the spring, when Daylight Time has the rest of us moving the clocks ahead, the Straddlers merely switch back to Central Time.

Seems simple enough, right?

Just don’t try to switch from Central Time to Mountain Time in the spring. It doesn’t work- you are just 2 hours late for everything. (I think. This is really confusing.)

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The 2nd Dear John Letter

My dearly beloved,

We set the random date of November 3rd to come together to see if we can overcome our differences.

True, I have adjusted to Mr. Someone-New’s schedule. The romantic strolls on the beach are longer. Once I could stop thinking of you all night, the early mornings didn’t seem so terrible. Maybe sunrises can be romantic. My eyes adjusted to being in the bright spotlight with him. I even started thinking to myself, how much I could grow to love my new life without you.

Is it the chill in the air at home that makes me want to run away with you again? Or the fact my life is filled with darkness- an encompassing black I can’t get out of. I need you back to feel your warmth, even it is just for a few more hours.

Waaa- I want you back Mr. Standard Time! I only consider this a summer fling with Mr. Daylight Time. I’ve always, truly loved you more.

Taking the extra hour to sleep in… oh how I love that relaxing feeling. And I feel more energized, like I could get up an hour early and accomplish more in my mornings. True, the relation does tire me quickly- remember when I would head for bed at 9:15 pm because I was bushed! haha- oh, the memories….

So, please, consider taking me back. Our relation has been on-again off-again, but I swear, we can make it work this time!

Take me back, Mr. Standard Time!

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Grinding Tags

The calves have been sold and shipped to their new homes.

All we have left at the ranch are the replacements, or the heifers picked to become cows in the herd. There are also a few purebred bull calves that will (hopefully) sell in another year on the sale.

The new replacements need to be identified, so we have to make them new tags. The first number is the year they are born (the bred heifers were born in 2012). Then you just number off the rest. Newt likes to take out 10 year old cows that are still in the herd, so two animals don’t have the same number.

I personally like making tags. I’m not sure why, but I get great satisfaction seeing my numbers in their ears.

We use layered tags and a grinder. The grinder takes the first layer off, leaving the contrasting layer showing through.

First, I write the numbers on the tag, since the grinder is extremely permanent. Newt made me a cheat sheet (underneath the tag).

Tags with cheat sheet

I already made the red tags for the registered bulls, now I was on to the white tags for the replacement commercial heifers.

The grinder is a Dremel tool that spins around at several RPMs. It makes it somewhat difficult to make straight and even lines, but this is the only tool for the job.

Grind tag

Not too much pressure or you will grind completely through the tag. Not enough pressure and your line will be too thin and hard to see.

Finished grind

There… a finished tag, #220.

I like doing slender numbers better than 2’s or 3’s. You have so much more room with 1’s and 7’s. 8’s and 5’s are space hogs, too.

I pass the tag off to ReeRee who then removes the fines (or ground rubber bits) from the tag.

She had various techniques… wiping the grinds with her hand, or in this case, waving the tag through the air.

Shake off fines

Her job was to put the tags back in the bag.
Finished in bag

Nice and neat! It is nice to have a helper.

Our grinder quit halfway through the tags, so we had to borrow a neighbor’s.

It is always good to double check your work- I had forgotten a couple numbers. Better to check now, than to be at the corrals with no tag.

All that was left was to sweep and vacuum the fines from the table and floor.

All finished, until next year’s rookies will need tags starting with a 3.

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My Brothers- the twins

I have two brothers. They are twins.

I have an older brother, and a younger brother.

Here is the story of their birthdays on their birthday!

My grandmother was having a birthday party for my older brother. We were all packed and ready to head out the next morning to my grandparents (about an 1.5 hrs away).

My mom was very pregnant, but still had 10 more days until her due date.

That night, my mom and dad were watching “Silverscreen Classics” on PBS. Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, The Pyscho, was playing… the black and white thriller when the lady gets stabbed in the shower.


The scene was too much for my mom and it literally scared the baby right out of her. When she told my dad the baby was coming, his hair stood up on end.

Mom and Dad called our country school teacher, so she could come watch the rest of the kids for the night, as per the plan.

Mom: “My water broke!”
SchoolMarm: “I’m not a plumber, tell your husband to fix it.”

Once they figured out the pipes on the house were fine, but Mom needed to go to the hospital, SchoolMarm hurried over to our house.

The hospital was only 10 minutes from my grandparent’s house. Fearing her mother would stop in the delivery room, Mom told SchoolMarm to keep it a secret until we showed up.

And showed up we did! Grandma E: “Where is your mom and dad?” All us kids: “Having a baby!” My grandma nearly fainted.

We continued to have my older brother’s birthday dinner. Shortly after lunch, he received the present of a twin. 11 years and 31 minutes apart.

Happy Birthday, my twin brothers!

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Walking Companions

The time change is still a month away, so ReeRee and I have enough daylight to walk after walk.

My #1 walking companion is ReeRee, because what kind of parent would I be if I left her alone at home?

Snug as bug in rug

With the stroller top down, a blanket on her legs, and pockets full of snacks, ReeRee is snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug.

Torpedo, our loyal companion, streaks down the road when we pull the stroller out. By the end of the walk, he is tired and “heels” by my side.


The cats also tend to walk with us. This is the new kitten, Hissy Kitty. This is the most annoying cat- she meows every time you step outside… “MEOW, meeeoooowww, MEOW…” But she keeps her distance enough for me to take a picture.

Hissy Kitty

Unlike Turtleman, our orange tomcat.
Turtleman 2

He loves to petted and rarely is less than a hands-length away.

The short length makes it impossible to take a decent picture.
Turtleman 2

A nice quiet walk by myself is rarely taken. Usually the entire circus comes with me!

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Low Light, Fall Brilliance

The sun’s angle on the earth has shifted, sending rays of soft light through the native grass’ cloaks of color.

It really is beautiful.
Sunset through Sand Bluestem

The seedheads become radiant in the low light.
Little bluestem in the wind

Sand bluestem seeds “fluff” until they burst!
Sand Bluestem- Winter seedhead

Greens, yellows, and oranges alternate on the blades of switchgrass.
Many colors of Switchgrass

The white fluff of milkweed seeds drifts away, leaving the brown husk.
Milkweed seedpod

The fiery red rosehips provide food for birds and coyotes over the winter.
Red Rosehips

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Creating English

English is a hard language to learn. Even when you are really little.

But as our little ones grow up, they develop a language of their own.

Here are some of my favorites so far:

Fri-DER-day: Friday. “MawMom, you are staying home with me today? Is today Fri-DER-day?” Which is much better than ‘ome… that one broke my heart.

Em’s: shortened from the original version of “M&Ms”.

Bean-Bean: an edible dry bean (like kidney, red, northern). Not to be confused with a Green-Bean.

Penny Dollars: coins or change. Also known as “money-eze”.

Maw-Mom: Mom.

Handles: stubby, little horns on the corriente calves.

Highroad: highway or paved road. “Maw-Mom, do I have to ride in my carseat? Are we going on the highroad?

Popjuice: soda pop.

Feelers: feelings or emotions. “You hurt my feelers.”

Shut OFF!: my favorite so far, meaning “QUIET!” When Torpedo is barking at night: “Pedo, SHUT OFF!”

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BM (and BM)

Newt and ReeRee went to help my folks move bulls home from summer pasture. It is a 10 mile trip and takes all day. I had a work obligation on Saturday and could not go.

They left on Friday. I was left all alone. TIME- so much free time! Oh TIME, how I miss squandering you!

I was lost, until I got back into my BM (and BM) mode.

Before Motherhood (and Before Marriage) schedule on a Friday evening consisted of cleaning my house. (Which at the time was only me, so seriously how much of a mess could have I made?) And seriously, how did I ever get married with this wild, crazy social schedule…

Friday evening looked like this…
Friday BM BM

On Friday evening, I popped out the “Nighttime Songs” from the CD player in ReeRee’s room. I put in the BM (and BM) CD of Dixie Chicks and blared it. This CD and it helped me write my thesis while on a constant repeat (my roommates hated this CD towards the end).

An SOS pad to shine up the waterspots on the fixtures and removed the soapscum off the shower and tub.

I cleaned like a maniac.

I used harsh BM (Before Motherhood) cleaners. Safety first- goggles and gloves!
Harsh chemicals

This harsh BM chemical is AWESOME for old houses with poor plumbing. You can actually take a shower and not a bath- drainage!

Awww- it was nice to remember BM (and BM).

But I sure was glad to see Newt and ReeRee!

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