Sunday, August 30, 2009

Review: Firepit

I've been eyeballing firepits for over a year now, pondering whether it was worth the money to buy one. I love a good fire, and can't always count on babysitting the nephews at Bro and Sis In Law's to enjoy one when I get the urge.

Mamaw and I saw this one at El Marto Del Wal the other day, marked down a bit as they prepare to clean out the summer themed seasonal items. The price was decent and we thought we'd try it.

Had a bit of trouble putting it together, but nothing a good ol' dose of RTFM wouldn't cure... turns out you need to attach the smaller support ring inside of the cast iron legs before you tighten the bolts that hold the leg to the larger base ring that the bowl sits in, or the smaller ring won't reach. Who knew?

This particular model is made by Better Homes, which isn't mentioned on the Wally-World website, and is one of the smaller ones I've seen, but it's plenty big enough to get a cheery little fire going.

I would have preferred if the log grate had crossed grating instead of just the one set of bars, but it's perfectly serviceable as is.

I was worried about the pups getting singed walking by, and the bowl might heat further if the fire were burning longer than we have been, but so far, the edge of the bowl is getting just warm, not hot.

It's light and easily portable- don't let the description fool you, the only bit that's cast iron is the legs, everything else is light weight, so you don't have to struggle to move it if you decide you want to take it somewhere.

We have a bunch of old cedar fenceposts that are no longer sturdy enough to use for fencing but which, once I cut them into smaller chunks, will be fantastic for the fire pit. That part made Farmmom extremely happy, since they're currently lying in a pile in the pasture.

It made me extremely happy as well since cedar is one of the more aromatic burning woods.

If you're looking for a big roaring fire, this is not the pit for you, I would recommend getting one of the deeper ones, but for a cheery little fire it's grade A, and reasonably priced.


I've been getting fairly stressed out about my house lately, what with every time I turn around there being another thing that needs done before we can move forward with it.

For example, the wall between the kitchen and the bathroom. It seemed fine, until we got all of the drywall and lath down, and discovered that not only was it not fine, it's not attached to anything at the top, and was a cobbled together crazy thing. So out that came.

On the electrical front I had a battle of wills that I lost, for once. Me versus the hundred-or-so year old oak framing of the wall that the breaker box is on. See, we ran out of places to run our wire down, and had to make a new hole to go through. So, I climbed my skinny butt up through the access hole in the bedroom (which is not much wider than I am) and picked my way across the house on the rafters, crawled through an access hole through the original roof into the first addition (the office) that is only about knee height on me, and went to work.

Two inches or so was fairly easy, considering the age of the wood. Then I hit the two-by stuff that had been being compressed since the place was built. Might as well have been trying to drill through iron with a toothpick.

I gave up rather than break a drill, because I recognized the level of frustration and determination I was reaching, and well, it wasn't my drill. Farmdad got up there later and got it knocked through. He agreed that it was some pretty hard stuff and commented that I just didn't have the technique.

Thanks, pop.

I didn't realize just how stressed out I was till I actually got away and went riding for an entire afternoon. When I came back I looked at my house and instead of mourning, I thought, "Hey, that kitchen is going to be pretty nifty with the cabinets we looked at. It'll take a while, but we'll get there."

And my kitchen is going to be pretty nifty. Or at least I think so. The things available in cabinetry these days are much more geared towards organization and maximizing what storage space you have than they used to be, and that's a godsend, because I may be going to have the most square footage in my kitchen in the family, but it's still a tiny kitchen, and as it stands the house has zip for storage.

Which isn't all that surprising considering it was originally built in the 1900's as a lawyers office, expanded on that theme, and only in the '60's (I think, I could be a bit off on that) were the kitchen and bathroom added in a lean-to sort of fashion on the back of the house.

We've framed in a useable size closet in the bedroom (not as big as I might have dreamed but as big as we can feasibly make it considering we're stealing square footage from the bathroom and still have to fit my loverly cast-iron tub, a vanity, potty, and stack washer and dryer in there) and I plan to use the office as an office slash tack room. It will wear a third hat as a spare bedroom at need, probably with a futon rather than an actual bed in there, just for space reasons.

Cause folks, I love my friends and I want to have a place for them to stay, but I am not giving up the antique oak sherrif's desk. Just ain't happenin'.

We still have a long way to go before it's done, but if fate allows, it will be put back together enough that I can move in (bedroom and bathroom finished, anyway) soon.

There's plenty to be done, and a lot of sweat and elbow grease to get there, but when it's finished, it's going to be fabulous.

It's amazing what an afternoon on horseback can do for my outlook on life. I gotta remember to take a dose of my furry, four-legged blood pressure medication more often!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

An Excellent Day

Yesterday I went with a new friend, K, to the canyons for some trail riding. When I'm by myself I generally just wander around and spot all my favorite interesting things, take a bit of a break in some shade, and take it pretty easy. Since K had never been there, I decided we should do a bit of the wandering and then actually follow the trails like you're supposed to.

It's literally been years since I've done the actual trails out there, and I had forgotten a few spots where it gets pretty narrow or steep, but it was a good ride.

I took Monkey and Rebel, figuring I didn't know what K's skill level really was, so I'd put her on my big reliable boy Rebel, and Monkey needed the exercise, since I hadn't had a chance to ride him much at all for a while.

Because Monkey is such a scaredy pants so much of the time, and it was a new place, I kind of expected him to be a little crazy, so I was prepared for a good battle most of the way through, but he did fantastic! My smart boy even started spotting the trail markers himself in places where the horseback trail hasn't been used much and has gotten overgrown, and heading for them.

He was as willing as I could have asked for to go up the slopes and down the hills, and started paying a lot more attention to where he put his feet after he had a couple of minor slips, which is great, because he's the only horse I know who can trip over an imaginary line on the ground.

We had one moment that was a bit hairy for both of them, riding along the trail with steep sides on either side, and a two foot drop to the right of the trail for a sometimes-watercourse. A whitetail buck came out of a couple of trees to our left about thirty feet up the rock-strewn slope, clattered down to the bottom, and took off up the other side, about ten feet in front of Monkey who was leading the way. I can't blame them for being startled, I was startled too! But Monkey gathered all of his courage and went on down the trail once the noise had stopped, although he kept a weather eye out for any more potentially carnivorous deer.

It was a great ride all the way around, we spent about four hours out there, even after our departure got delayed till around noon. Monkey got a little bit footsore from all the rocks, but nothing major, in spite of his playing it up for sympathy.

There's just something about the weather-worn rock formations and hidden natural beauties out there that make me love the canyons more every time I go. It's a whole world that most people would never guess is out here on the flatlands, and when you get down into them, it's like the rest of the world just goes away. The feeling of my horse's muscles working beneath me as he picks his way up or down a slope and the way he seems to enjoy the views just as much as I do. Standing at the top of the trail out of the canyon proper looking back and seeing all of the beauty and history spread out beneath me, it's like I'm in another time.

Maybe next time K and I will hit Picketwire canyon. It's more of a drive to get there, but I've never been, and I've always wanted a bit of an excuse to go explore.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sugar

Well. I know it's late, and I tried not to get all macabre and depressed today. I fought against thinking of her and kept my concentration on whatever task was facing me that moment.

Then I realized that rather than thoughts of her final illness, or funeral, I was standing in her kitchen, seeing myself on a stool so I can reach the top of the counter, carefully pressing the proper cross-hatching into the tops of her peanut butter cookies with the back of a fork.

I was looking at her picture and thinking of how it didn't capture the way her smile lit up the room and her laugh was as whole hearted as everything else she did.

I was playing with my horses, laughing at their antics and thinking of how much she would have loved to see Monkey kissing my palm or trying to steal my hat.

I realized that every time I thought of her today it made me smile, it was a good memory. Tinged with sadness, sure. She's been gone two years, I still miss her.

But today she would have been a hundred and two.

Happy Birthday, Sugar. We all miss you, but you still make me smile.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Protesters and Guns

Ya'll know I don't usually get political here. I just don't want to deal with the haters and the arguments and the bull.

But this, this is really starting to tweak me off.

Oh. My. God. People are openly carrying firearms, in public, in a perfectly legal and (in my opinion) entirely wise manner! And, *gasp* some of them are the dreaded Evil Black Rifles!

MSNBC (who I will not link to, if you want the vid you can find it on their site, I'm sure, or see a vid of someone pointing out the obvious fallacy of the network's reporting over at Tam's blog, if you haven't seen it already) claims that the gun-toting masses at these protests are members of hate groups.

Wha? Since when does carrying a weapon, concealed or otherwise, make you a member of a hate group? Where I come from every other pickup in the high school parking lot has a gun rack in the back window. Whether the student who owns a particular vehicle leaves their rifle or shotgun displayed or tucks it behind the seat during school is more a matter of preference than any law or policy.

Where I come from, if you do anything outside of city limits, and some things within city limits, having, at the very least, a twenty two rifle in your vehicle is not only a wise choice but pretty much the standard. Personal protection does not only mean against two-legged critters. We've got enough of the four legged kind around, and enough instances of rabies infection, in spite of DOW's attempts to keep the virus under control, that you never know when you might come across a skunk or coon that will act against it's nature and attack you. Putting those animals down before they bite a person or someone's beloved pet is considered a public service. If someone claims they saw a possibly rabies infected animal and didn't shoot it, the typical response is "why not?!?"

That's not even considering snakes, coyotes, cougars, bears, bobcats, badgers, or in the canyons, particularly belligerent Barbary sheep.

Or having to put an animal down because one of the aforementioned critters got ahold of it, or it's too sick to save, or it broke a leg, or, or, or.

There are thousands of circumstances in which it is not only wise, but responsible and important to carry a firearm here, without even considering the foibles of H. Sapiens.

Add in the sheer numbers of people and charged atmosphere of a large "Town Hall" meeting on a controversial subject, with a protest outside?

You're damn skippy I'd be armed! And in my opinion, the safest way to carry at one of those things, would be openly.

If someone does want to start something, are they more likely to do it among a group of apparently unarmed people (whether some of those people are carrying concealed or not) or in the middle of a crowd liberally sprinkled with obvious weapons? To me, a critter would have to be a few splinters short of the brain power of a wooden post to start something in the middle of that second crowd.

I carry a weapon. Lately, I've been doing a bit of open carry, to show off the gorgeous new grips that I got as an early birthday present.

Am I a member of a hate group? Does wanting to be able to assure my own safety make me a bad person? I'm fully aware of the response times of police officers under the best of circumstances. I'm not denigrating law enforcement, but even they are constrained by the laws of physics, and unless your city has a 1:1 citizen to officer ratio, it's going to take them a few minutes to ride to the rescue under the most favorable circumstances. Those few minutes can mean the difference between a little shook up and seriously injured, violated, or dead.

If I can protect myself for those few minutes in whatever way is available to me, I count that as a good thing. Being a practical type, I like knowing that even if a big hairy muscular man decides to whip my skinny little butt, I have ways available to me that will level the playing field. I cannot go punch for punch with a Mike Tyson type and I will not attempt it.

As for the White House issuing a statement that these people were acting within the law, and it is ok???

Well No Shit Sherlock!

We should not need a statement written up by some White House flunky to tell us that these people were acting legally and nobody got hurt. Was anyone shot? Were there any negligent discharges of these firearms during the protests? Did any of these guns actually clear leather (or kydex, or come off of the shoulder upon which they were slung) during the protests?

I haven't seen it, and you can bet your best heifer that if someone had displayed their weapon in anything but a carrying position the Medi-ugh would have been all over it.

So guess what, all you screaming memes? Those of us who believe in the Constitution and everything it stands for, who believe in the responsibility and the right to help ensure our own safety, those of us who are proud to be citizens because of the rights and freedoms that our forefathers fought for, bleed and died to ensure, are going to keep carrying our weapons, and exercising our Second Amendment rights right along with our First Amendment rights.

And the more you scream and piss and moan, the more likely it is that more of us will carry openly.

Does anyone else just want to tell all of these people to grow a set and get over it, or is it just me?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Been sick the last couple of days, and though I'm feeling better now, I don't think I'm quite up to running a marathon yet.

Sunday was both a good day and a bad day. Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell you why.

I got to ride for a few hours and help move the cattle to the other big pasture, where they'll winter, laugh at Rebel for his antics in trying to avoid the llama that we're pasturing for a friend of the family, and I roped a calf, for the very first time!

Well, I sort of roped him. See, he was only about a day old, and his momma had bedded him down in some soap weeds, so he was pretty well hidden. When we moved everyone else, she didn't pick him up on the way by, so we had to go looking.

I rode Rebel all over and finally spotted the little bugger. Since he wouldn't let Farmdad close enough to get a rope on him, I followed along behind him with rebel, until he decided he'd had enough, turned around, and charged.

Gotta love a calf with spunk, and great self-defense instincts.

Rebel eased his way past without getting head butted by the little guy, and I was laughing too hard to get the rope on him, so we swung back around for another shot. The little guy obliged by making another run, and I hung the loop down in front of him. He walked right into it, and he was caught.

Guess I can't say that I can't even catch a cold with a rope anymore.

As for why it was bad, well, I was sick that morning too. Rebel was remarkably patient with me hanging over the side of the saddle and wondering if I was going to heave.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Long, long day....

Well, today was the Eldest Nephew's sixth birthday! (Good grief that kid is growing up fast!)

To celebrate the occasion, and to help distract him while Farm Bro and Farmdad got at least a start on putting together the ginormous new swing set that he got, I brought Rebel in and took him for a ride.

Today was the first day he's rode for more than ten minutes at a time, and it was also the first time he'd gotten to actually handle the reins himself. He was awful proud in his new boots and hat (a pre requisite to getting to ride, at least for the boots, his old ones are getting awfully small) on top of that "Big, Huge" horse.

Of course, getting Rebel in was an adventure in and of itself, since he mysteriously decided to hate the trailer today. Two hours or so of attempting to load, several minor and major altercations with his lead rope, and one phone call to get Farmmom out, I got behind him with a sorting stick and no compunctions about popping him one on the rear end if he tried the same crap with Farmmom on the end of the lead that he did with me, and he walked right in.


Of course, during the battle portion of the day, I had gotten some grain and laid out a nice buffet in the front of the trailer, and tied his lead about halfway in. He was outside the trailer, but couldn't get very far away.

That is, until he sat back and broke the lead. After which he wandered up to the corral gate and looked over it until I came to collect him, then led perfectly back to within about five feet of the trailer. He had no problems going anywhere else, he just didn't want to get in the trailer for love or money today.

I think he figured it wasn't worth the fight when the spots where he'd rubbed the velvet off his nose started to sting.

Regardless, once we got him in the trailer, he was his usual angelic self, and he helped me entertain the munchkin long enough for the frame of the swingset to be set up, about forty five minutes.

At that point, Eldest Nephew was hot, (especially in his spankin-new black felt cowboy hat, which he specifically requested "just like yours Auntie Farmgirl!") I was hot, between the battle with the horse and the ride and having my much beloved but very squirmy nephew sandwitched between me and the swells, and it was time to call it a day.

After all the presents were opened, and cake was eaten, as I was getting ready to leave, he hugged me and whispered in my ear "Rebel is my favorite horse ever... except for Monkey."

Me too, kiddo, me too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


You know what I hate? People who waste my valuable time (Ok, so I'm doing laundry and watching Season 2 of NCIS but hey it's valuable to me!) calling me, and either hanging up or failing to leave a proper message.

I'm all about short sweet and to the point on phone calls, in general. There are a few people that I will BS with on the phone for hours on end, but usually if you're leaving me a message, just get to the point. I hate it when the gist of it is in the beginning, because my cell carrier forces me to wait until the message has played through entirely to delete the message, and if I hang up in the middle of it, it's just waiting for me the next time.

Last week I got a couple of hang ups, of the no-talking-when-I-say-hello variety. Three to five seconds of silence on the other end, and then click.


Today, I was away from my cell phone, and got a Very Important call. At least according to the message the guy left. Unfortunately his phone etiquette is so poor that he garbled his extension number, so I have no way of calling him back, nor did he say what company he was calling from, nor what the call is regarding.

I could call the number back, he did get that much out clearly, and ask for a Mr. David Nolastname, and hope to find the man who wanted so desperately to reach me... but why??

Why should I go to that much trouble when I don't even know if I want to talk to this dude? Let alone when he failed so utterly to make himself clear, inform me of what the phone call was regarding (other than it being Very Important.. he stressed that part.. three times...) or in general create a positive phone presence that would make me want to speak to him.

I did attempt a reverse lookup, but since it was an 866 number, only one site I tried claims to have any information, and they want money for it.

I would like to discuss his failure in giving good phone, but I don't care about it that much. If it is truly as Very Important as he claimed, he will call back. Or more likely, someone else from the telemarketing call center, really.

There's a fine line between being discrete and making me suspect that you're trying to lure me into calling you back so you can try to sell me siding.

Make me believe that I want to talk to you, at least. That way, if you try to sell me siding, I'll at least congratulate you on your methods before I give the standard three no's, tell you to take me off of your calling list, and hang up.

And if it is actually important, well, I'll make that decision.

The phone is for my convenience, not anyone else's.

Now I'm grumpy. Dangit.

Edited to add: Also, cases of mistaken identity in text messages. I've been called a bitch twice, by the same person. The more I think on it, the more grumpy I get. Is it just my day for phone related grumpy makers???

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fair Week

The Sunday after the County Fair is always a time for recuperation. Usually for most of the county, either because they're young and have been partying with old friends all week, or because they're involved in the proceedings, or because they have children in 4-H and have had a full week of animal shows, presentations, competitions, and activities.

This week has been busy, both because of fair and because of problems with one heifer that had a calf too big for her.

But that didn't stop me from making both rodeos, and reminding myself why I love this place, in spite of the things I complain about.

A fairgrounds full of people, activities for the kids, booths, vendors, and animals, everyone smiling and waving at each other. Children running wild, covered in mud and grass stains, scrapes and scratches, parents not worrying for a moment about their kids being out of their sight because they ARE in sight of the rest of the county.

Lines of people at the food vendors buying BBQ or burgers or funnel cakes as the KPRCA rodeo is beginning, and when the grand entry is announced, all turn towards the arena, although they can't see it past the grandstands, and put their hats over their hearts until the American Flag exits. Everyone, down to the punk-ish dressing kids who are rebelling against their country roots with their personal style, standing respectfully through the National Anthem.

Brave children climbing onto the backs of wooly sheep for the mutton busting competition, taking their tumbles only to jump up and run back to their nearby parents, begging to do it again.

A full crowd cheering on a hometown boy during the roping or one of the rough stock events, even when he doesn't quite make his loop or his eight seconds. Only cheering louder when he waves to his family in the stands.

That same crowd holding their breath when a bronc falls in the mud, and the cowboy stays down, and roaring when he stands up in the midst of the EMT's to make his exit on his own two feet, waving to the grandstands.

Working cowboys doing what they do best at the Ranch Rodeo, showing off the skill of their team and their horses in a friendly competition with teams from all over the state.

Men who tip their hat to ladies as they pass and children in western shirts and boots who say please and thank you, sir and ma'am, because that's what we do.

A street lined shoulder to shoulder with spectators for the parade, class reunion floats and fire trucks and ambulances, the Moon Man's flame-painted pickup and pop-up DJ trailer continuing the tradition and playing old time rock and roll, although the Moon Man himself died this spring.

And the most numerous part of the parade, the horses. Leading the way a covered wagon pulled by matched dark bay drafts, metal bound wheels clattering on the paved street, and the shotgun rider proudly displaying an heirloom Winchester .30-30. Following them, riders on all colors of horse, with every age of rider from the blonde pigtailed five year old girl sitting tall in her saddle to the iron haired grandfather.

Everyone smiles, everyone waves, and everyone has a good time during Fair. So when's yours?