Saturday, July 28, 2007

Floor Fiasco

I think the last I mentioned about the floor we were mopping it to prepare to stain it. We then used the primer just like the directions said on the Behr floor stain. What we didn't know is that Behr doesn't make a very good stain. We love their paint so we thought the stain would be good too, but it's more like paint than stain. After priming, Roger and Mitchell very carefully followed directions and sprayed the stain on and backrolled to smooth it out. Every roller mark showed. This was not the look we wanted.

I remembered we knew some people in the metroplex who stain floors professionally and they'd told us to call if we ever had questions. So I called with questions. He assured me that we didn't do anything wrong. It was indeed the product we were using and there was nothing we could do to remove it. That was what Roger figured, but I had to ask. He did, however, suggest going over it with a lighter color with a light spray and not backrolling it to give it a mottled look. Maybe this would at least make it tolerable. So we tried this first with the color we already had. It did seem to help a bit.

So another coat of spray was added. Then we decided it would still look even better if we added another color or two. We went to buy a second color, but when it was added, you didn't really see it. So we just quit there.

Roger added another coat because it seemed to cover the roller marks better each time.

I guess we learned a few things.
1. Ask questions of professionals BEFORE you begin.
2. A company that makes one good product does not necessarily do everything well.
3. Most mistakes are fixable in some way.
4. It's good to be flexible.
5. Don't use the sealer. It will be worse than the stain.

Thankfully we learned that last one before it was too late.

I think overall we'll be happy with our floor. We'll put furniture and rugs in different places so that will help. It's not the look we originally wanted, but at least we can live with it. And I still think it was wise to choose a color that is about the same as the local mud.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dead Cow

We took a heifer in to the processing place this morning. This was the black baldy we called Sarah. While Grace and I milked Bella Stephen and Mitchell went out to get Sarah. Those two are much smarter than me. I had tried to get Sarah last night with a lasso. No luck. This morning the boys walked up to her with a bucket full of grain and beef cubes and she followed with much enthusiasm.

Dumb dad got involved again as the cow came near the pasture where the trailer was. I had Mitchell go further ahead with the bucket and I pulled on the rope around her neck. With the bucket so far away she was not interested in going anywhere. When a 900 pound cow decides to go with you, you either let go of the rope or go with her. I went with her for a while and decided, as she was pulling me over, I’d better let go of the rope. She kept running and then the loop around my ankle, the loop I was not aware of, kicked in and I went with her for another five feet or so. I know that I do not want to be dragged by a cow ever again. Every scene in every western I’d ever seen with a cowboy getting dragged through a stampede rushed through my mind in the second or two it took to go five feet. Luckily, I was not wearing my church t-shirt and jeans.

The next move was to put another rope on the cow so Stephen and I could both hold on to her. This worked a lot better. This time, when she ran I was able to let go of the rope a full foot and a half shy of the fence post she was dragging me towards. As Stephen and I brushed off he and Mitchell came up with a new plan – they would take a bucket of grain and beef cubes and I would get the heck out of the way. This worked even better than the rope or the two ropes plan. Within a couple of minutes Sarah was in the trailer and we were off to her death. In 14 days I will pick up about 500 pounds of beef and we will eat this cow for the next ten months or so. I will laugh to myself every meal.

By the way, we borrowed a different trailer this time from a different neighbor. I just took it back to them and they gave me about 10 pounds of tomatoes.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

T-shirt Quilt

Back when Stephen and Mitchell were little guys, they both needed a blankie to go to sleep. I knew they would one day outgrow it and always figured I'd have to find some way to preserve their blankies in a quilt. That was my original inspiration. Somewhere along the line I must have heard something about t-shirt quilts because it's such a huge thing I can't believe I never heard of it. Then again, I tend to be very unaware of my surroundings and what is going on in the world that isn't part of my own little world. (Anyone ever try to wave at me when I drive by? I just didn't see you. I'm too busy looking at the other cars, not the drivers.) But anyway, over time I started to think some of their shirts and jeans would be good additions to their blankie quilts. I had these blankies as central parts of the quilts in my mind.

So when we realized Stephen could graduate early and I only had a few months left before he not only graduates, but LEAVES for boot camp, I decided I'd better get going. So in my "spare time" (meaning time that I just absolutely have to do something creative or I'll go nuts if I wash another dish or change another diaper) I've been working on this quilt. I've only got the top done, but that was a feat in itself. I wanted to shout it from the mountain tops, but out here in west Texas there are not many mountain tops (thankfully, they might block our beautiful sunsets) to choose from. There's the Santa Anna Mountain, but I'm not sure that really counts as a mountain. So the blog will have to do. (of course, then I log on to post this and have a note saying I have to wait two days while someone checks to see if our blog is a spam blog. Oh well.)

So here's a picture of the quilt top. I've used his old t-shirts and hockey jerseys, his blankie is the square second from the top on the left. It's totally faded and just looks white, but that square is all I could salvage from the whole blankie. It was very worn out. I also used his old jeans. Then I bought the camouflage fabric for the border. You know, hand-me-downs are a part of life in a large family. But when it comes to choosing things for a t-shirt quilt like this, some of the old favorites are gone because younger siblings wore them. But those hockey jerseys were prized possessions so they were kept in tip-top shape. Well, most of them anyway. And because I keep getting asked, I'll tell you. The four corners are solid blue because for a LONG time, the only shirts Stephen would wear were his solid blue t-shirts. He had many of them because it made no sense to buy him anything else. Kind of like jeans and slacks. No one wears slacks around here so they don't even own them anymore.

t-shirt quilt


Monday, July 23, 2007

Bella's got an abscess

For some reason the title of this post reminds me of songs by the many Motown girl groups from the late 50’s or early 60’s. Close your eyes and sing along, “Bella’s got an abscess….” I don’t write songs, just haiku’s.

Anyway, Bella’s face had this huge lump and it just kept getting bigger and uglier. I took her to the vet Friday morning and he lanced it. Bella’s abscess was from eating spear grass. Seems she ate some spear grass and one of the spears poked into her gum. As a kid I loved spear grass. We’d chase other kids around the block with the spears and they’d chase us and sooner or later one of the kids would get speared – usually Kevin or, ironically in the case of this post, Lance – and start crying. The fun would immediately end and we’d scatter with our handfuls of spears in anticipation of another afternoon of spear grass war. I enjoyed spear grass 35 years ago, today I want to find out who is responsible for it and get reimbursed for the vet bill.

Back in high school one of my friends had a tooth that was abscessed. The doctor or dentist lanced the abscess from the inside of Val Joe’s mouth and packed it with cotton. The vet went after Bella’s abscess from the outside of her mouth. First he just poked a needle from a syringe in her big lump and pus went shooting out. Then he tied her down tight in the head gate and began cutting away. Bella now has a hole in the side of her face that is wide enough and deep enough to hide a golf ball and the swollen part of her face is way bigger than when I took her in on Friday. I am not going to post a picture. You’re welcome.

When Bella was attacked by dogs last summer I had to give her a shot of antibiotics three days in a row. It was a huge pain for her and me and the boys. We’d tie her up to the fence and secure her tightly. Still she fought the needle. Last winter we bought a used head gate and it worked like a charm this past week. She’d walk right into it and she didn’t fight to get out of it, even while I was injecting her. The vet gave me a larger bore needle this time as well and that also helped. It was a subcutaneous shot which meant I had to pull out a flap of skin in her neck and insert the needle. The vet told me to inject in two places to spread the load around as each shot was 18cc of the antibiotic. On Sunday morning one of the injections went in and right back out the other side, so I wasted about 2cc on her neck rather than in it.

I had to borrow a stock trailer from a friend as the one we bought off a neighbor still has not been rehabbed – hey, it has only been a week and a I am trying to build a house. (See previous post.) So, I borrowed my friend’s trailer and he and his wife gave us about 10 pounds of fresh, large, juicy peaches (I have eaten three so far today as they cannot be allowed to go bad), some squash, zucchini, green beans and a bunch of tomatoes. It’s kinda funny to me. I borrowed their stuff and they gave me stuff. Now I am inspired to plant a garden next spring when we are done with the house so that I can also give people stuff when I am being nice to them. I guess this place just kinda grows on you.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

House Siding

The siding is on the house. I think it's done, but there may be some detail work still needed. It needs painting, but here it is so far. This is from the east side of the house. The door you see enters the house between the living room and dining room and is not the front door.

Roger and I and the kids went out there yesterday afternoon and cleared the house. Then we swept it and scrubbed mud prints and such off the floor. We decided we needed to mop it so we had to quit there until we bought a new mop head.

Roger got home from shopping last night and got to spend some time fixing a pipe leak. It was in the current house, not the new house. That made for a late night, but he did it. First step was to figure out, in the dark, where the leak was. Stephen went to take him a flashlight and found the leak by stepping in a big puddle. So the leak was found and fixed. On the bright side, it was extra plumbing practice before doing plumbing on the new house. We were all up until about 1am, but we survived. We even made it to church on time.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Glorious Sleep

I was going to post this yesterday, but didn't want to jinx it. I guess it wouldn't have mattered though.

Gloria slept all night for 3 nights in a row. She is still nursing and I never can get my kids to sleep without even waking once until they are fully weaned. But she's down to just nursing once a day now a little before bedtime.

Of those 3 nights, I actually got to sleep all night for 2 of them. That's 2 out of 3 nights I got a full night sleep! One of those nights was even a full EIGHT HOURS!! I think that is a first in 18 years!! I'm nearly always either pregnant or nursing and both of those things seem to have a way of waking you up at night. There was a stretch there before I was pregnant with our 7th, Joy, that Clark, #6, was fully weaned and I had a couple months "off." But nearly every night someone has a nightmare or needs a drink or the light on in the bathroom or they forget to turn the light off and it wakes me. . . It's very very rare that I can sleep all night. God prepared me for this though by creating me as one of those oddballs who can get by with less for a while. But 18 years? Whew! I was tired!

They made up for it last night. Several of the children woke me several times each. It was good while it lasted though!


Sunday, July 15, 2007

The American Dream

Yesterday was the monthly get-together with Melissa’s family. As we drove back through Dublin, Comanche, Blanket, etc., we got to talking about riches. It came up because of a contact I had with an old friend this past week. He is a successful trial lawyer in the Metroplex. By successful trial lawyer I mean he has reached the point that he has other people chase ambulances for him. Anyway, our discussion turned, as it usually does, to defining riches and success. My friend had recently enjoyed a very fine cabernet, a 2” thick New York Strip, chatted with a Congressman and purchased tickets (first class) for a month long vacation in Switzerland with his wife. I had milked a cow, taken care of chickens, worked on the house, enjoyed several fantastic sunsets and played with my kids. Neither of us had done all that much out of the ordinary for what we do. In some ways, what he had done was not all that out of the ordinary for what I did before I moved out here to milk a cow, build a house and get to know my kids.

My success used to depend on what the Council wanted me to get done and how well I got it done. My friend’s success depends on how well he can convince a jury that his client was wronged by their doctor/employer/contractor and they need to receive a wheelbarrow full of cash to make it all right. The trappings of that success manifests itself in jewelry, golf clubs, cars, square footage in a house or office, silk ties, fancy meals and the like. Thankfully, my tastes have always run a bit plainer than others’ might, so when we left that world behind for this one we had at least a bit of money in the bank. But still, a thick and juicy steak or burger out with the family was a part of our weekly entertainment budget. I’m not sure I can remember the last time we were all out together at a restaurant for dinner.

So, what are my riches these days? Well, as I write this Joy and Sam are playing “Go Fish” on the sofa. They are using cards that are from another game that have neither suits nor rank on them and just as soon as I am involved in watching this, the game changes to a “Star Wars” card game for which they both know the rules and have never played before this instant. My days are now made up of vignettes like this. Every afternoon Claire and I go out to bring in the milk cow’s calf, so she’ll be able to make milk for the family in time for the next morning’s milking. The calf pretty much just comes to us now. She knows me and Claire and our voices. Last Friday, Mitchell patched up the gaps in the siding with the mixture we are using before I could really get started working with him. Stephen spent about $120 of his own money to put on a fireworks show for the family on July 4th. Faith made breakfast cookies for us Friday night so we’d be able to hit the road quickly Saturday morning. Clark’s front tooth finally fell out last night. It was the middle of the night so, rather than waking us up, he put it back in his mouth and held it there until he woke up around 7. Grace goes to bed early so she can be up early. Why? Because she wants to get outside to be with the cows so that she can be THE cow person in the family. When the sun sets tonight we will see a beautiful sky full of colors because we live out in west Texas where we do not have a tree infestation problem. Dawn will be just a pretty, but without as much red as the sunset. Right now, the milk cow is busy mowing our lawn. She’ll leave behind some patties that the chickens will tear apart and the grass will be fertilized.

This is what I have and while life is not always easy out here and there are times when the whole world seems to disagree with me, I don’t want to be anyplace else.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Fred's decision

Thank you to all who are praying for Fred! We really appreciate it and I know Fred does as well.

He saw his doctor today and told the doctor he's feeling better than he's felt in 2 years (before he was ever diagnosed) and he'd prefer to skip the chemo. I guess the doctor has to offer it to him anyway, but Fred has decided he doesn't want it. That means that any healing that happens will all be from God. God will get all the glory. Please continue to pray and I'll keep you posted. If nothing else, please say a quick prayer when you read updates. I know everyone has busy lives and some of you may remember to pray each day for him and others will not. But we appreciate any prayer offered up for him right now. Please ask God to restore Fred to a healthy state. God made his body in the first place and he most certainly is able to restore him to perfect health.

James 4:2 tells us we have not because we ask not. So let's join together and ask for good health for Fred.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rain rain going away?

After about 10 days of no work on the house, Roger and Mitchell finally got to get out there and get back to work yesterday. They took a break for hamburgers and fireworks, but they got to get something done on our new house!

There has been plenty of rain falling all around us. And we've had our fair share, too. But the other day, I took Stephen to the doctor in town and it was pouring rain. I came home and Roger was saying he thought he could work on the house after dinner. I asked about the rain and he said we didn't get any. I was amazed and made sure to tell him I had seen rain and lots of it. We're only 2 miles outside of town and the roads were wet all the way home. I saw his last blog post blaming me for him getting stuck in the mud (I had told him I had no idea if it had rained or not that night but being a man he only partly listened and heard the words "no" and "rain" and ignored everything in between.) so I wanted to be sure he understood I knew it had rained. He swore that he was home and it had not rained here. It turns out that he'd been praying that God would allow all this rain to just skirt around us. Well, God must have said yes because sure enough, it is actually drying up out there. Isn't God good?

So, since concrete block is not at all water tight, we have puddles in our new house. That's why they are working on the siding. The siding is a hardy board that will seal out the water and look like stucco. Then we can paint it and it should be low maintenance.

Another totally unrelated note I'd like to add. My mother's husband, Fred, has had cancer for a little more than a year and a half. We have been praying for total healing. According to the doctors, he should have lived about 8 months with this. So he's already doing better than expected. I believe that is due to God's healing touch. Meanwhile, he has undergone chemo which sometimes seems to help and sometimes not. A few months ago he was told the chemo was no longer working and to take a 4-6 month break from it. Ok, maybe I'm wrong, but when you're already past how long you were even supposed to live, isn't that about the same as saying 'sorry, we can't help you'? Anyway, I felt certain that now God's healing would really begin. And all the scans since then are showing little to no growth. This is without any medical help at all. So now the doctor wants him back on chemo. Why? By his own admission, it wasn't working, but prayer seems to be helping without any side effects. Fred was out mowing the lawn today--in the Texas heat and humidity!!

Anyway, I would really appreciate it if anyone who reads this could please say a prayer and ask God to show Fred very clearly what He wants Fred to do. Fred has to make the decision--chemo or not. It can't be an easy thing to decide. Please ask God to make it clear what Fred should do and to give Fred the wisdom, courage, and faith to do the right thing in spite of pressure he might get to do otherwise--from the doctor to do chemo or even from me or others like me who think it's time to let God do His thing. Only God knows what is truly best for Fred and Fred needs to hear from God TODAY because his appointment is for tomorrow.