The Second Wednesday

170813_HarvestersCabbage

[ One big cabbage ]

August 13 – As we have written about before, on the second Wednesday of each month, the Harvesters food truck comes to the Kingsville Adventist Church and unloads a LOT of food to be handed out to people in a long line of vehicles in need of food. Many church members come to the church, volunteering to unpack the cartons and containers of food and lay the contents out to be available as each vehicle drove past.

Chris ended up handing out cabbages this time, and I had the 10-lb bags of potatoes. In between us were two large containers of watermelons, and we were fortunate that Mike Sullivan had the watermelons, for he has the strength and energy needed to handle heavy items. The potatoes came five 10-lb bags per large bag, and when a whole large bag was needed, Mike just heaved it into the vehicle. I couldn’t even pick one up!

170813_HarvesterMelons

[ Watermelons – n – stuff ]

Across the driveway, grandson Kevin had everything on that side and we don’t know how he managed to handle it all, but he did a great job. Near to us were the green beans, and in vast quantities. They were all in black plastic cases and many vehicles just got a whole case of them. Some days are hotter than others, and occasionally the heat will drive some of the volunteers to seek refuge in the church now and then. Chris and I don’t use our air conditioning very much at home, so we are used to the heat and managed to tolerate it most of the time.

170813_HarvestersWorker

[ Glad to help! ]

Dennis Schoonover, the man in charge of activities, went around handing out bottles of cold water, and his wife Pam was everywhere, helping where help was needed. Their daughter and her husband and their two children had come to lend a hand and were much appreciated. Our pastor’s wife Marilyn and their three younger children also came to help.

At the end of our road is a family with health and family problems, and we always collect Harvesters food for them and take some back with us at the end of the event. They are so excited and appreciative, and even want to give us money for the gas we use, which is about zero for the two blocks or so that we have to travel to their house. They have four or five little dogs that live with them but are actually owned by their children. They are all jealous of their owners’ attentions and frequently battle for supremacy. One of them has a broken foot as a result.

170813_YellowShirts

[ Very visible in our neon shirts ]

On the day following Harvesters, we went to Pleasant Hill to visit and to shop a little. Bought a few things, mostly books, at the thrift store, and decided not to do any grocery shopping since we have more than enough food in the freezers and fridge and elsewhere. On Thursdays we always eat breakfast when we get home from town, usually around noon, and so our supper appetites are minimal until quite late.

A friend and neighbor from down the road a few blocks, Clay Marquis, stopped in for a visit as he was driving out this way, and we had a nice long chat about all our affairs and our gardens and the weather. Dinner was calling, so he said farewell and drove away to fix a meal and take a nap. Afterwards, I did some reading and just maybe took the chance to take a nap as well! – DALE

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Chis and the Apple Tree

170810_Apples

[ Apples, anyone? ]

August 10 – What I am going to write about in this post comes from a story I remember that took place about 85 years ago. For the first time, one of the new apple trees my dad had planted had fruit on it. Pa took all seven of us out to his special tree telling us not even to touch any of those apples! (Of course, Skeets at 4 years old and Pete a little over 3), didn’t understand the commands. Off he went to work, there were none of my brothers nearby, and Mom was in the kitchen.

I can easily remember how I walked around the tree, trying to figure out how I could get at least one of those spectacular golden fruits. After several tries, I managed to get one of those apples while still keeping Pa’s orders! With my hands behind my back, I stepped as near as I could to one of the limbs that held wonderful, really beautiful Golden Delicious apples. Then I stuck out my tongue and somehow managed (I don’t quite remember how.) to take a couple bites from the apple I chose. After that I very carefully took the same stance and was able to take a bite or two from all eight of the apples!

As I remember, I thought those apples would taste much better than they actually did! Why? I just worried and worried about what kind of a spanking I would get from Pa! But then I really wouldn’t be doing anything he had told us kids not to do. Remember, he said we absolutely shouldn’t pick any of the apples. And I really had obeyed him—or had I?

170810_Family

[ Roy, then Ed, and Frank, (Pete and me), and Rich

That night when Pa had walked the couple miles home, he went down to the apple tree. I cannot imagine what his thoughts were as he found that those apples that had been so beautiful in the morning were now eaten, although they had not been picked. As he questioned each of us, one right after the other, he received a no for an answer each time, starting with my oldest brother Roy. Then Ed, and Frank, and Rich all of whom were older than I was. “Well, Sis, did you eat those apples?” I knew better than to lie, but I was worried about what punishment I would get if I didn’t! Looking down at the ground, and standing very quietly, I said, “No.”

Of course, since all of the older kids hadn’t done anything wrong and weren’t worried about being caught, they stood by the tree, waiting for the guilty one to admit what he had done. But what about me? I was so scared of the licking I would get (Pa didn’t lick us much, but when he did, we could really feel the whack of that stick or his belt whichever he used!) I stuck with my story of being innocent when he asked me the second time.

170810_SadFace

[ Uh-oh, busted! ]

When the questioning was over, Elsie Burnett, one of our teen-age neighborhood kids who had watched and listened to the whole story, waited till Pa and the rest had left the scene. Quietly she came up to me and said, “We all know you ate those apples, Sis, why don’t you tell me, and I won’t tell ANYBODY! Believe it or not, that sounded pretty good to me because I could get it out of my system and nobody would ever know because Elsie wouldn’t tell. She had promised! But promises are not always kept. As soon as I admitted to my “sin”, she raced down the hill from her house to ours and immediately, in a voice I will never forget, told Pa that I was the one who ate the apples.

Looking back on that experience, I am sure that he would rather have had me tell him the truth, rather than letting my former friend tell him. But, you know what? Pa never even spanked me because as he told me many years later, “I think that was punishment enough, when you not only took the apples but lied about it. I hope you will always tell the truth, no matter what might happen to you!” He then gave me a big hug, something he hardly ever did! A hug from Pa was something never to be forgotten. And I really mean it! Oh, and did I mention that he even told me years later that I must have been a smart little girl as I managed to get those apples off the tree without even using my hands! – CHRIS

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And Now About Those Fruit Trees…

August 8 – We usually have pretty good crops in the garden and on the fruit and nut trees in the yard. This year hasn’t been such a great one thanks to insects, and weather, either too much rain, or not enough. First, let me review the fruit trees.

170808_Plum

[ A sample plum ]

Our prune tree was loaded with prunes for several years, but then decided it had had enough of bearing and just lay almost dormant. Another year and it was easy to see the prunes wanted to succeed in their job of providing us with some good fruit. However, at least three-quarters of them fell to the ground when they were pretty green or long before they were ripe. As I mowed the lawn this spring, I kept an eye on the tree, just hoping that we would get some of those sweet and juicy prunes which I have always liked to eat. Back in Pennsylvania, my mom had a really big tree, and we picked bushels from it. Tasty!

170808_BeforeBeetles

[ Rose of Sharon before the beetles ]

However, there will be little point in my watching those prunes from here on in. A week ago when I was mowing in the area, I noticed that the leaves on the branches were full of holes where the Japanese beetles had taken over! Big piles of them sat on the branches and continued to chew until the branches were totally empty, before they moved on to other branches to start the same process. Dale was going to spray the Stanley prune tree, but so many of the branches were bare of leaves, that he didn’t do much.

170808_Cherries

[ Cherries from the tree ]

These are the same Japanese beetles that did so much damage to our fruit trees in PA. And this is the very first time in our almost twenty years of living here in Missouri that we have seen even one of these horrible insects Since then beetles have ruined the plum tree, the Rose of Sharon bush, the Nanking bush cherries, and are chewing on the leaves of the big Siberian elm tree in the front yard.

As usual, our apricot tree lost out when the warmer spring weather turned cold, and the meager fruit fell to the ground before getting large enough to save. The new apricot that Dale bought and planted had no fruit at all!

When we first moved to Missouri, there were two apple trees in the yard that the owner had planted years ago. At first we had a good crop and for several years, I made a lot of applesauce, really tasty and delicious. Then the trees bore just about nothing. Last year, they were too small to even use, so Dale decided to cut the first one down.

170808_Apples

[ Wish we grew apples like this! ]

Thanks to my hope for some good apples I begged for its life for another year. Might as well have agreed to the cutting down because the apples weren’t worth anything.

At least this year the Golden Delicious has several places on the tree where we can find 4 or 5 nice-looking fruits growing together. I felt of the fruit just yesterday to see if they were getting ripe, but not yet! Apples have always been one of my very favorite fruits. – CHRIS

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Foods to Eat (and Foods NOT To!)

170806_Aminitas

Amanitas (not good to eat)

August 6 – Seems we are always finding something different as we walk along the trails that run around our 18 acres. A couple days ago as I was checking on the iris bed, where I had just cut off the plants the day before, I looked ahead, and there, right off to my right past the old covered well, dug by hand, I saw a very interesting sight.

Amanitas! Poisonous mushrooms! As I walked along the row of 28, growing in a half circle, I remembered that we had the same sight last year. Right in the same place those huge round mushrooms were a delightful (?) sight. And, of course, as usual, I didn’t have my camera with me. Hurrying up the hill to the house, and picking up that camera, I was soon back at the site of the Amanitas.

170806_TentCats

[ Web worms (not good to eat, either) ]

The next day when I walked back to the mushrooms, I noticed something hanging from the branch of a tree nearby. Looked like a worm to me, kind of a reddish blue-gray color, and the poor branch was just about robbed of every bit of leaf. When the wind blew up a bit it looked like the worms were doing a jig! Just above the branch was a big tent-like home for the rest of the worms I couldn’t see the first time. Might be something beautiful and unusual in the tent, but anything that is connected with worms is not pretty to me. Last year I couldn’t reach the higher tents, so those worms continued to grow and enjoy life till they fell down to the ground, nest and all, having added their mess to the ground.

In our fenced-in garden, once the rains finally stopped for awhile in the spring, we planted several vegetables that we always enjoy eating through the summer. Unfortunately, we weren’t very fortunate as far as the plants growing and giving us food for the summer as they usually do.

170806_PepperPlanting

[ David hoeing next to the onions ]

Out of the many cabbage plants, we had not even one bit of coleslaw because a rabbit or two ate up the entire row. To finish out a row of onions, we planted five pepper plants. Just as they were settling down, something ate every one! At least we had a great crop of onions, big sweet ones that keep well during the winter. And then the forty tomato plants of so many varieties like Mortgage Lifter, Jersey Devil, Roma, Pearly Pinks, and some large pink varieties.

They have done so well, even though they had to survive a wet spell followed by very dry conditions. Our son David helped us put a cage around each plant, and so they all look healthy and good. When Dale found the first ripe tomato, I just let it lie on the counter in the kitchen, as we enjoyed looking at it, the first one of the year! Since then he has picked a number of large ones along with several varieties of the smaller ones, including the yellow Sun gold ones. Now we don’t have to choose to “save” the ripe tomatoes because we have enough that we can continue to slice them up for sandwiches. – CHRIS

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Chiggers and Birds (but not related)

170731_Chiggerex

[ Chigger semi-relief

July 31 – Folks suffering from chiggers will sympathize with us. Some people claim that they are immune, but we are definitely NOT. We go around with dozens of red welts, some large, and very irritating. Chiggerex is what we use to ease the discomfort, and lately I have been rubbing it on all the itchy spots before going to bed. Otherwise I found it necessary to get up in the middle of the night to do that. Chiggers are very small, reddish creatures that crawl around in grass and weeds and latch onto any body within reach. One good thing about October is that chiggers disappear until next May!

A few days ago I was looking out our big front window, when suddenly a smallish hawk swooped down and dived right into the middle of the bush growing in the front yard. It disappeared completely for a few moments, and then came hastily out and flew away. This bush is a favorite haunt of sparrows, and probably the hawk had seen one in there and attempted to grab a meal. Later on the hawk was there again, only this time it stood in front of the bush briefly before flying off.

170731_Birdnest

[ One of many bird nests we’ve found ]

There is a bird around here that speaks English very plainly, but only one word of it – Teacher. It is a Carolina wren, and its standard call is “Teacher, teacher, teacher, teacher”. Every year a pair of them will make a nest in our workshop, getting in through the gap beneath the door where an old threshold strip used to be. The nest is always in some old box or drawer, and is a bundle of grass.

Eventually the babies are old enough to leave the nest, but are not smart enough to find their way out of the workshop. They fly around inside until somebody comes out to get something, and there are those little birds dashing around and hitting windows or hanging lights. I leave the door open and try to shoo them out, and sometimes they will go and sometimes I just have to chase them down and grab them and toss them outside for the parents to attend to. Next year they are not going to have a nest in our workshop, because workman James has just installed a new door with no gap beneath it. Maybe they will find a spot in the barn at the other end of the building, where there is lots of room under the sliding door there.

170731_SleepyCat

[ Sleepy Cat ]

To change subjects, I have to accuse our cat of favoritism. At night when we prepare to go to bed, I often go out to the garage and call her, “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty,” to get her to come in so we can close up for the night. She sleeps in the house at night but often likes to stay outside until around eleven. Kitty likes Chris better than me, I think, for she will most times stay outside until Chris starts calling “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty,” and right into the garage pops kitty and then into the house for a night’s rest.

170731_ChrisApt

[ Christopher and his mom Darlene ]

Earlier this month, our son David and his wife Darlene took a trip of several days to Tennessee. They took down a load of furniture and other things for their son Christopher who is going to be there in Tennessee for a couple of years while studying to be a nurse anesthetist. After many years, Dave and Darlene will have no children living at home with them anymore. They have all grown up and moved out.

Right now I too am moving out from this blog-writing business and will say goodbye to all. – DALE

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Animal, Vegetable, Or Doors

170730_BackDoor

[ Door installation ]

July 30 – This month we had two new outside doors installed – one at our back door and one in the workshop. We hired a young couple, James and Diana, to do the work; they are nice people who live in Holden. The mother told me that they have twin sons, one left-handed and one right-handed. (When Chris asked how old the kids were, Diana said, “Fourteen. FOURTEEN!” Now that was a real shock, as she thought Diana was only about 25 or so!)

A new robin’s nest has made an appearance, right over our garage door and located on the motion-detecting lights. These are usually kept turned off, so I don’t think the nest occupants will suffer from excessive heat. We would love to find a hummingbird’s nest and Chris could get some pictures, but we’ve never found one yet. Hummers are coming to our nectar dispenser and doing their usual squabbling.

170730_FirstTomatoes

[ First tomatoes of the year ]

We have been picking tomatoes for awhile now, with the first full-sized tomato from our patch on July 4th. It was a nice pink one that we enjoyed with sandwiches! There were several small golden tomatoes that I picked, but they had all cracked. Some of our plants have yellowish leaves, indicating tomato leaf blight, so I shall have to dig out our spray and do some work with the spray tank. Our cucumber vines are beginning to bloom and are sending out vines in great abundance.

170730_Turtles

[ Two turtles ]

While traveling on some local highways, we came across two small box turtles crossing the road, so stopped to collect them and take them home to release on our acreage. One was an ornate turtle and the other just a regular box turtle, but their markings were quite decorative. Of course they may not find our property satisfactory and will wander off to parts unknown.

It seems that Japanese beetles have come to this part of Missouri (unfortunately). I walked past our Rose of Sharon bush and it was just loaded with those beetles, devouring the flowers and buds. I shall have to buy some insecticide and spray the pests. This is the first time we have seen any of these beetles, which are colorful but destructive. At least we have no domestic roses, and the beetles are welcome to the wild ones with their long thorny canes. When we lived in Pennsylvania we had lots of the beetles; too bad they didn’t stay there! – DALE

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Animals in Missouri

170726_Cards

[ Birthday cards ]

July 26 – As I sit here at the computer today, I’m going to try to catch up on a number of notes I have made, notes that might develop into something of interest to those who read our blog from time to time. I did have a real reason for not writing as often as I usually did, though.

I am still trying to catch up on my plan to thank by name, everyone who sent greetings via e-mail or card for my 90th birthday! When they are done, I am going, with David’s help, to print up the notes and keep them in a special place in my heart and in a box of special cards. What a treasure I will have to enjoy from time to time.

170726_Turkey

[ Boss turkey ]

So here goes. I don’t even know where to start, so I’m just going through my list of short sentences that will remind me of the subject. We have seen a number of animals move around in our back property as we sit on the tailgate of the truck, resting up a bit before tackling another job. Last year we saw a turkey family, obviously led by the boss of the show. This year that big boss, if it is still the same one, comes to check out the area all by himself. Sometimes when we look out our kitchen window, we see him moseying around trying to find a good bite to eat.

170726_Squirrel

[ Thieving squirrel! ]

Not as easy this time of year, because we don’t put bird food out until the cold weather arrives, figuring the birds can fend for themselves out in the woods. The main reason for the change, though, is the fact that the squirrels by the dozens raid the area in the late fall and winter, eating all they can and then filling out their cheeks to take more food back to bury near the trees in which they live. Yes, they are “cute” and energetic, and enjoy scooting around the big elm tree in the front yard, with a fellow playmate on his tail!

A few nights ago we were sitting quietly on the front porch enjoying the sights and sounds of early evening. “Look at that!” Dale called. “Do you see what I see?” “Hey, that’s pretty neat,” I answered as I pointed to four deer making their way across the pasture. Usually, their trips across the fields take place in the morning, but not this time. The lightning bugs were scooting here and there and everywhere as was their custom at this time of year. Flashes of bright light kept us looking for them as they moved so quickly around the yard, with their typical firefly behavior.

That reminds me of something I haven’t heard about in a long, long time. About fifty years ago while I was still teaching in Pennsylvania, we were having a teachers’ convention in a small town in New York. Sitting outside one night, we were treated to a real display by the lightning bugs, and I asked the two delegates from California if their fireflies looked like ours in the East. “No, they sure don’t,” said one. “In fact, I’m thinking of taking a jarful back home with me to show to the school kids!”

Since then, I have found that there really are fireflies or lightning bugs in Southern California. Their kind would not enjoy living here in MO or even farther east. They want to be where there is more rain since that’s where snails, their favorite food, live. You can find them then where there are springs and streams. They don’t stay around except in the summer months, but ours don’t either.

170726_Field

[ Field where we see coyotes and deer ]

As usual, we could hear the scary calling of the coyotes across the way. Others call from the woods behind the house. Their high-pitched scream can easily be heard, especially in the evening after we have gone to bed. Just the other day we saw a mother coyote and her young one traveling slowly across the field beyond the fence. Maybe the mother saw us, for she scooted under the fence, and quickly made her way to the nearby woods. But the brave young one continued on his way, slowly walking past us to show he wasn’t afraid, and then finally going under the fence to join his mother in the woods.

Have you ever talked to owls that are passing the night out in the woods? I have, and I know Dale thinks I’m at least partly crazy, but I have a lot of fun doing that! Every night about ten or eleven, I hear the “Whoo, whoo, whoo” of the owl.

Before I started answering that bird, I didn’t try to join in his conversation, because I never even thought it might return my greeting! I was wrong! Standing inside at the window, I hear that “Whoo” and send out my greeting to him. “Whoo, whoo, whoo,” not exactly as he called, but enough that he gets the point. At first, weeks ago, he was satisfied with the three “Whoo” calling, but now he has added another. First come three “whoos,” before he adds the last part of the greeting. The three “whoos” are now followed by a descending “ahhhh.” Sounds like the Great Horned Owl to me. He will just have to excuse my calls, as they don’t sound like the Great Horned does, but I’m not an owl, you know! – CHRIS

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Chic-Chic-Chicory

170718_Chicory

[ White chicory ]

July 18 – On our way to church a couple of days ago I noticed a white-flowered chicory plant beside the road. Everybody knows that chicory is blue, so a white version is quite unusual. On the way home after church we decided to stop and pick that stem and take a picture of it. We looked and looked but just could not see a white chicory until just before hitting the black top, and there it was. Chris is our car driver, so she stopped, and I got out and waded through the weeds to that plant and pulled it up and we took it home.

The chicory flowers close up later in the day and new flowers open the next morning. These white flowers were beginning to close, so it was a close thing. Chris got out her camera and did some twig clipping and got a couple of pictures, and then put in some blue ones as contrast, but next time we are out that way we are going to stop and get the other white plant that I left growing, and Chris will have her camera along and will get a picture of a wide-open white chicory blossom.

170718_Bamboo

[ Bamboo ]

Chris has been outside clipping weeds near the bamboo patch. Yesterday I worked in our garden, using the rototiller to dig up some rows of grass and weeds between our crop rows. The ground was very dry and dusty and I shall go over it again after some rain has fallen. It got cloudy late last week and we had thunder and a couple of raindrops, but that soon ended. I recently dug up a short row in the garden and added some fertilizer and sand next to one of our fences, and planted a couple varieties of cucumber seeds. This will extend our cucumber crop, as we already have a number of growing cucumber plants.

Whenever we make a trip into Lee’s Summit, have a small cardboard tray in the front seat, containing check book, wallet, shopping list, etc. Among the items the other day were a couple of gift cards for the supermarket Hy-Vee that we had thought of using during the day while we there. However, things ended up too crowded and we skipped Hy-Vee and went home. At home I started looking for the Hy-Vee cards and couldn’t find them anywhere! Chris and I both looked every where and finally decided we had lost those cards somehow. Several days later I got out our check book to write a couple of checks, and to my pleased surprise found those two cards behind the rubber band around our check book. The lost has been found…

150907-18 Albizia

[ Albizia ]

Growing in our side yard we have a beautiful albizia tree, in bloom and just loaded with fuzzy pink and white flowers, at least those that the Japanese beetles don’t want. Two or three times in past years the blooms have been invaded by a swarm of small brown beetles, similar to larger June bugs, and these beetles just completely devoured every flower and bud, but then the tree thoughtfully produced a second crop of flowers after the beetle crop had matured and died.

Growing in a row close to this tree we have orange trumpet vines planted from seed years ago, and they too are in bloom now and doubtless providing lots of nectar for humming birds. A brother-in-law once told me that he would not plant any orange trumpet vines as they are too invasive, and indeed they are, sending up dozens of little shoots in the lawn. Running the lawn mower over them several times puts an end to the invasion for the current year.

After all this hot dry weather, our car hadn’t been washed for some time and was very dusty and the windows were hard to see out of. So I had Chris back it out of the garage (she is the designated driver), and I got out the hose and sprayed it well several times.

170718_CatSnake

[ Cat the snake charmer ]

Now the cat was enjoying herself on the lawn some yards beyond the car, and somehow the hose suddenly aimed itself directly at Cat. In shock the cat leaped high into the air and got out of the line of spray speedily. She drinks a lot of water but hates to get any of it on her coat. Today she has been enjoying sleeping on our bed, right at the pillow’s edge, and fortunately on Chris’s side.

So long, everyone, from DALE and CAT.

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Snips and Snails and Raccoon Tails

170716_CleaningGarage

[ Cleaning up the  mess ]

July 16 – Several weeks ago now we discovered when we got up in the early morning that we had had an intruder locked in our garage overnight. A lot of items on my work bench had been knocked onto the floor, a box of many old worn-out AA batteries was upside down on the floor and the contents strewn all over the place, and I blamed an opossum. But then I noticed that two of the three white plastic window blinds had been shredded and knew that instead it had been a raccoon, trying to find an escape route. So I had a lot of tidying-up to do and had to buy new blinds and install them.

Around the same time we had an issue with our garage door not wanting to close. Pushing the remote-control button in our vehicles would open the door but to close it we had to push the big button in the garage and hold it down until the door was closed. That meant that when we drove away to somewhere, someone had to close the door from inside and then go out the front door and join the vehicle in the driveway. I got out our instruction manual but was not mechanical enough to figure out what to do.

garage door after possum chewed the wire

[ No thanks to the raccoon! ]

I finally phoned our serviceman and told him we needed some help! After we told him our problem, he said that usually such problems indicated that the two little green lights at the base of the door were out of line somehow and that if I could get them back in order I could save a service call. Away I went to check them out, with Chris right behind me. While I checked the far light, Chris was looking at the closer one and noticed that the wire from above seemed to be disconnected from the light. Sure enough, it was, and the wire had been chewed badly in several places. That raccoon must have been desperate!

So out came a number of tools – wire-cutter, pliers, electric light on a cable, insulation tape, knife, and something soft to kneel on. The job was not easy, for that wire was different from most and difficult to remove the insulation from. I struggled for a long time and ended up with barely enough good wire to fill in the gap. Finally things looked good and Chris pushed the door-closer button above – and down came that door just as it used to. Raccoon, may the coyotes chase you up a tree tonight!

170716_Turkeys

[ Visiting turkeys ]

There is a small turkey population around here and some mornings early we have seen a turkey or two in the back yard. We have a friend in Pennsylvania who has befriended a flock of turkeys and they don’t seem much afraid of her anymore. Perhaps I should put out some dry corn kernels next to our bird feeder and see if turkeys will start coming to eat them and maybe stay around a little while. But possibly our resident squirrels will find that tempting and eat it first.

And speaking of bird, I was surprised the other day to find a baby Carolina wren out by our barn, and then another one inside the barn, on the floor. This was the third year we have had them nesting in our barn, which they enter via a gap under the door.

170716_TrashBarrel

[ Trusty trash barrel ]

Yesterday I had brought out a barrel of trash paper to throw in the burning barrel. When I lifted the lid, I was surprised to see a baby bird flapping around inside, and wondered what it was doing in there. And then another even smaller one started hopping around. More Carolina wrens, which usually seem to come in fours from the nest.

Earlier I had tossed a bundle of grass from the barn into the burning barrel, and now I realized that it was a nest. I got out those two little birds and sent them hopping over the lawn and a parent shortly flew down to inspect them, so I guess they were taken care of, for they had soon disappeared. Lucky for them that I discovered them before dumping in the trash paper to be burned. The call of the Carolina wren is “Teacher, teacher, teacher”, which we have been hearing a lot around here lately.

Well, we shall wait to see what creature shows up next! In the meantime, have a good time, everybody. – DALE

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The Driver’s Test – Part 2

July 11 – If you remember, my last post left off as we searched for the Driver’s License Bureau. Now we didn’t keep track of the mileage, but I can easily believe that we must have driven at least 25 miles in our search. By this time, Dale was not too happy, (and who can blame him?) about the directions we were given, very different one from the other. Finally, Dale announced, “OK, it’s your turn this time. Maybe you will have better luck than I have had!”

170711_PoliceCar

[ Lee’s Summit police ]

Just as he said that, I looked out the window and saw a police car parked not far from the curb, with somebody in it, maybe looking for folks who were going too fast. Quickly I asked Dale to turn left at the next road and drive back to that car. After he had parked near the car, I got out and moved over to the window where a smiling young man sat and asked, “Is there something I can do for you?”

My answer? “I sure do hope so.” Then I explained the problem and added, “And it’s my birthday today! I’m NINETY, and I’m really tired of hunting for the license office!”

“Well, I can help you,” he said as he smiled again. “That office was moved last July. Now if you want to follow me, I’ll take you right there.” If we WANTED to follow him? Yes, we surely did! After thanking him several times, I hopped back into the truck and told Dale the good news. A few minutes later we were backtracking on one of the streets we had heard about in the directions people gave us. About five miles later, he pulled into the small plaza, parked and pointed just ahead to the office we had been looking for for well over an hour! Before he could leave, I jumped out of the truck, ran over to the car and gave that young man a hug through the window! I don’t think he thought he had done anything great, but we sure did!

As soon as we walked through the entrance to the license office, my worries began. Would I be able to remember the road signs? Who would ask me questions? etc, etc. During the long drive all over Lee’s Summit, I hadn’t thought of that problem at all!

“Take one of those tickets over there,” Dale said. Just as I had it in my hand, a friendly man asked if I had come for the test. When I said, “Yes,” he told me to come over to his desk and sit down. Already? We had just arrived, and didn’t have to wait at all as we usually do because of the number of folks taking the test. After I had brought out my license and answered questions about any changes in it, even down to my weight, (Good for me; I had lost 6 pounds in the three years since my last test.) he said, “Well, we’re ready. Just look through those little slots and read the letters you see.”

170711_RoadSigns

[ Too many signs! ]]

After that was over, he asked me to tell what the road signs meant. There were a few curve signs, no left turn, yield, and finally one round one, a circle within a square with no words on the surface. I had to admit that I didn’t recognize that one without the words. The shape should have told me that it was a DO NOT ENTER just as I had seen so many of them that morning along the highway!

When it came time for me to sign the paper giving the information, my hands were shaking so much that I just couldn’t even sign my name! When the examiner saw that I was really embarrassed, he said, “Don’t worry. I can tell you’re nervous. That’s OK. Your husband can sign for you – you passed!”

That’s when I reached across the desk and gave him a big hug! “Well, that’s the first hug I’ve ever had while working in this office! Thank you! Enjoy the day now!” Oh, yes, I would after all of those miles of driving and the kindness of the policeman and the examiner! Now I can add this story to those driving experiences I wrote about earlier! – CHRIS

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