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Monday, June 27, 2011

Farmer's Market 101

 Believe it or not, we all managed to be awake and on the road to the local Farmer's Market in Lebanon, Mo. 
I will tell you that Brandon was certainly ready for a nap as Noon rolled around.
Above in the first picture, we are setting up our new canopy that we purchased at Wal-Mart. I know, I know......
 This picture shows the Market just starting to wake up. We had the pleasure of meeting a local celebrity while we were there.  The Market Lady was there filming a segment for a local news broadcast.
You can find info on her here www.themarketlady.com

She goes to different Market's and prepares recipes from the produce available. If I am being honest about it, she could have done a bit more with the zucchini  salad.
 The good thing about doing this Market was that it was a perfect way to get our feet wet!
Everybody that walked by the booth had a smile on their faces.
Lot's of compliments came our way as well, and promises that if we came back the following week that we would have more customers.
Here's to next week!!

This is Brandon.  He's just so busy minding the store that he doesn't have time to smile!

We all had a blast and can see this being a regular outlet for us.
We met many nice people and make lots of connections which means we got all the dirt on all the vendors!

That would be all for today!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Queens. What a DRAG.

This evening after we'd celebrated Brandon's 3? birthday, put a shiny BRIGHT coat of YELLOW   paint on (most) of the front of the house, and worked our way past some serious cake eating puffiness, Mark decided to  youtube some video's.
The video he got stuck on was I put a spell on you.  As performed by the amazing artist Screaming Jay Hawkins.

As conversations sometimes go in this house , this one wound up being about Drag Queens.
Mark was remembering a nice old queen that went by La Jessica.
Now La Jessica would perform a version of this song that was so much fun it wouldn't matter if you were a Nazarene minister, or a Sunday Sinner,  you would have danced your damned ass off!





I know that MOST of you have not had the pleasure of befriending these lovely creatures, these heroes in high heels, these ladies of the leotards..
I also understand that most of you like to make fun of these friendly folks that look like their panties may indeed have an EXTRA cotton lining. Or two.

No need, we do that enough of that ourselves! 

While working at the local gay bar in Champaign during the 80's,    I was lucky to see many great ( and some very puke in your hand worthy) performances.
Of course on some nights at C-St, the bouncer may have been a large man in a wheel chair. Dressed with an empty refrigerator  box painted as a house resting over the top of him. With nothing sticking out but his feet at the bottom, wearing of course the Witches socks from the WIZARD OF OZ. It worked great because he'd (of course) cut out windows ( with curtains) and he could look out the window to card you. Legal age was 18 to get into the club. But, I think a FEW snuck in early!

Drag Queens are Drag Queens.
EVERY ONE is DIFFERENT!

It didn't matter if it was the one and only Maggie DeVille who was certain that  'she' did the best 
Annie Lennox  impersonation in  the state.  Any state, name a state.
I knew that at the end of the night when the Mag's was doing her last number that the wig was gonna fly. 

And fly it did.  And so did the crowd. Right into a big gay tizzy!!!

It also didn't matter that just after I BURST OUT of the closet ( it wasn't  difficult, the door was thin)  the first person to hit on me and take me to his place was (unknown to me at the time) a Drag Queen.
One of my all time faves then and now. 
Ladies and gentlemen............. The One, The Only, Mona Montclair.
Diva Extraordinaire.
At least that's what you better call her until she gets to know you better.  The first ten years are the hardest!
Mona and I wound up giggling too much to bump uglies.
Something tells me that is why we still have a terrific friendship after 24 years.
 
Yes, that's right in Drag Math 101 that makes Mona 19.
Off stage, Mona and her partner George are just an average gay couple.
Only they've been together over 20 years.
Well done BITCHES!

I would also like to take a moment to remember a few of the other funny friends I've made. The names may have slipped my mind, but the visions were BURNED PERMANENTLY into my retinas.

The father  and son Drag Queens. 
They were both so sweet  to me while I was working at C-St. And besides, I'd be nice to mule's ass if it'd get me a dollar tip.
Where else could you see a Drag Queen Dad  with a wooden leg being helped up the stairs by his Drag Queen  son. Because Dad........... Mom? ........Dad? Whoever. 
Because the older Drag Queen was too drunk to hop up the stairs.
Sweet Pauline's  Pearls!

Maybe we could talk about the Drag Queen  that was  so sure the crowd was going to hate 'her' when she came on stage and so nervous, that she threw up in her hand. But that didn't stop that little princess.
She flung that goop onto the mirror behind the dance floor and kept on going.
That's the SPIRIT!

Now, go clean your puke off the glass.
Dirty little girl!
And you  wonder why nobody wants to come and kiss your puke smelling face or give you a dollar?
 Please!

The costumes were really a fantastical,  fun, beautiful, scary, amazing part of every show. 
It was dumbfounding  what  the Late Great
Terri Hammrick could do with a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket, a hot glue gun, and a few sequins.

Or what the Late Great , One and Only,
Ruby Falls could do with a feather boa. Or where he could put it!
"Ruby" and I shared the same birthday's, 
Valentines Day.
One year Ruby made the whole bar sing Happy Birthday to the two us. Of course it was during a Valentine's Day Drag Show.

I won't soon forget being serenaded by the  largest crowd of welcoming, , non-judging, equal minded, 
free spirited, awe inspiring, love giving, EQUAL people in my life.
 I suppose I should end my stroll down memory Drag lane for now.

Don't think that I've forgotten for one second about you silly lesbians getting all dressed up in men's clothes and pretending to be KENNY ROGERS. Because I haven't.
I should remember to tell you the story about my Aunt Glenda. She wasn't a Drag Queen by any means, but quite possibly she could have been a Good Witch.
She did however have a wooden leg.
Til next time............ get your DIVA on!

































Friday, June 10, 2011

Aunt Opal's Pickles....... they were the DILL!

It's funny how something as simple as opening a jar of pickles is like opening a world of  memories.
The smell of the garlic, the dill and those DELICIOUS home made pickles.
The memories of being at my Great Aunt Opal's on any of the numerous occasions, and never heading home without at least one (more) pickle.
I remember the summer kitchen and the families working on canning in the fantastic Bootheel heat.
I know now that it was more about the time spent together than it was about getting the pantry full of canned goods. I do know that Aunt Opal's pantry was always full.
Unfortunately all I remember are those damned pickles!!!
When I had first moved to Illinois and would make a weekend trip home, Aunt Op-Op (thanks Matty) would always send me out the door with at least two jars of goodness! I would like to think that during all those trips and all those pickles that I had shared them with Mark at least once.
But I sure can't guarantee it!
I really need to get  in touch with some of the family and try to get her recipe.
Not that my canning could ever compare to hers!

We can't speak of dear Opal and not mention her husband, Roy.
He had a great Baritone voice that you were sure even the Lord heard on Sunday mornings!
I believe it was in the 5th grade, in Caruthersville, that we had to write a report about one of our relatives. I chose Uncle Roy and the story that he told of his time during the war.
About how one of his comrades had stepped on a mine while they were running into a field.
That may have been the first A+  that I ever received on a homework assignment.
I need to check with Mom and Dad and see if they still have the report that I did.
Something tells me they might.
I suppose I should go now and clean the pickle juice off the keyboard.
Aunt Opal and Uncle Roy Gill, you were thought of today. And missed often.
Because of you, we know where the GREAT comes from.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Miss Charlotte's Well


Let me introduce you again to Miss Charlotte...........


She is a sweet, loving neighbor and friend.  Miss Charlotte just celebrated her 73rd birthday recently.
After a bit of consideration, I've decided to use the donate button recently added to my site to gather collections for a WELL for Charlotte.
Can you imagine living without running water for 73 years? Me either.  She has never had a home with running water in her life.
 Think about it, she has to haul water for laundry, haul water for drinking, haul water for bathing, and for dishes. It is a lot of work for a little lady to handle.
Sure, I would love to get OUR well dug and give us running water too.  But, I am still relatively young and able bodied, I can manage a bit longer.
Get the word out, let your friends know how to help. Send a link to this page to everyone you know.  I would love to raise a mere $7500.00 for this project. That would be enough to have a WELL dug for Charlotte and to have the plumbing done as well. Who knows, it may even be enough to add the shower.
It may seem that this is a big request, and it IS. Believe me, this is a special person that could really benefit from our BIG HEARTS.
Please, give what you can. Every little bit helps. You have no idea how hard we can squeeze a dime!
I can't wait to surprise her when  we accomplish this! Because I know we will.
I'm going to try to figure how how to show our progress and will keep everyone informed. If you have any ideas on how to add a progress graph ( for free ) to the site, please message me.
Thanks again for your help. Thanks for your giving.
Jon

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hello and Howdy!

Another week seems to have flown by already!!
But, we did survive the storms and all the rain that came our way. And believe me, to borrow an expression from my friend Kathy, we had a shit ton of rain!
The good news was that we didn't have a single leak (therefore, a single bucket) in the kitchen. So, we must have done something right. I  do love it when that happens .

Steve and I have continued to make and see wind chimes. Our first week on EBay and we sold 5, off of the website we've sold one. I need to spend this next week focusing on putting more items on there.
Here is my shameless plug..........   www.hillbillyhandcrafted.com

It is so interesting to me that not only do people read my blog, and seem to be amused by some of the things I say, but that I can be creative and make money from it!
Who knew?!
You may have noticed the new "DONATE'  button I've added to my site. I believe this will be called the WELL FUND.
I got the idea by listening to my readers. ( MY readers, BUHAHAHA) and by doing a bit of searching online. Thank goodness for  Internet in the woods.  I'd be lost without it.

Gracie's market seems to have been sold, good news for Emily. I do believe that sweet lady is ready for a new chapter in her life. Been there done that. Best of wishes to her in her new endeavors.
Of course, all the hillbilly's are worried that the new owners won't keep the famous table out back for folk's to sit and visit, but I don't think they should worry, better they hang out here and socialize than be out getting into trouble!

You would Not believe the things you hear come out of people's mouths at that table either.
Yesterday, for instance, a young man was talking to his buddy about www.youtube.com and the videos you can find on there. Like the one's with the cows being hit by trains. YIKES. The young kid then said that he had a video of himself on there. "Really, what for?"
I stupidly asked.  "Well, for putting deer balls in my mouth" he told me.   Once I gathered myself I asked again " WHY?"
" But I got paid $120 dollars for it."
Quietly I leaned over to Mark and said,
" Can I see your wallet?"

Last summer at the same table a rough looking lady showed up a 'little' drunk.  Mind you, I'd not been here for long and still didn't know too many people.  After 5 minutes at the table, she was more than comfortable enough to show off her new tattoo of a fire flame. The problem was the location of this tattoo. Right, and I mean right, above her vejayjay.  Well, first time in over twenty years I'd been that close to one without breaking out in gay hives.
Admiring the art work i was curious if it was the flame or the cooter that was crooked and should it be a bumpy flame or was that razor burn?  She didn't seem to care for my disinterest and quickly zipped up!
Lawrdy, I love the table!

We are anxious about Brandon's arrival in a couple of days. It's going to be a long drive for him in the U-Haul with his car in tow. Say a wee prayer for his safe travels. I know his mama, Pam will miss him, but that means she will visit also.  See you soon Pam!
I feel a Memorial Day BBQ coming on! Maybe a swim in the river now that the storms are gone for a little while.

Thanks for checking out my blog, it's really appreciated. I hope it wasn't too 'naughty' for you today.
Till next time.....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rubber Ducky and other little birds

Here we are beginning another wet week here in the woods.
I suppose I shouldn't complain, we were warned.
I am thankful that the storms of yesterday decided to break away from our area. A saddened by the devastation in Joplin.

Even with the rains, we have managed to be productive and not wallow too much in the muck. Not like our little ducklings, they seem to be loving the rain when we put them in their new 'growing up box' outside. 
  The living room and dining room are a little better organized, the upstairs is coming together and the dishes are mostly done.
 I've made several wind chimes this week and posted them on Ebay. I've also managed to do a little more work on the website I'm trying to get together. 
www.hillbillyhandcrafted.com
 Slow and steady it goes. Stay the course....



Our porch is getting rather full by our staying the course.  At last count ,there were over 20 chimes put together. We are looking forward to heading to a few markets and such this summer.  Our goal is to have at least 60 completed in the next month.
 Keep your fingers crossed.
Here are a few of my favorite  chimes so far.....


I enjoy sitting around with Steve and talking crap while we put these together. It's easy to pass the time on the porch doing a little work. And talking smack!

While down at Gracie's this week putting in a few hours, I had a fella tell me ' a little bird told him I was queer". I told him that he must have been watching Big Bird on Sesame street, because that shit was elementary........
He said he was surprised, but respected it. I guess some of these ol' boys have moved into the 21st century after all.


We're all looking forward to seeing "little " Steve coming home tomorrow. Hope all is well with him........



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Here comes the rain. AGAIN.

As unbelievable as it may sound, we are gearing up for what looks to be 9 days of rain.
I am not so sure I like this!   The silver lining here is once again, that the kitchen roof is FINISHED!
We are very fortunate to have James and Chris helping us out on these jobs around the house.
  I hope they know how much they are appreciated.

Our new neighbors, on Sunflower Lane, are feeling the same appreciation towards the new friends they are making here in the area.
They tell me often how much they appreciate all the help they are getting.  After two ( what must have been very long) weeks without it, their power was turned on today. 
Actually,  the power company hooked up the pole on Monday. It was a matter of hooking the cabin to the pole box that was a problem.I don't usually like to mess with the big hook up of power. I can do the inside work just fine, but don't care to mess with anything near the outside pole. Besides I've already had big hair. Do I need to remind you of the 80's? 


So, back to the power problem........... "Hey, Jerry!"

The same good ol' boy that showed up with a big back hoe to help get the cabin up the road, was there today to help with the power problem. He even supplied the wiring needed!
Thanks Jerry, you're a heck of a guy!


Now to some serious business...
I suppose enough time has passed since killing the old hen, that now, I can speak of it.
To say it was not pretty, would be a definite understatement. I will be sure to use a block to chop the poor things head off next time.  The hillbilly showing us  how he cleans them just had it dangling  from his hands and took a few chops with the butcher knife. O.K., several chops.  
That kid was slinging chicken guts all over the back yard and the dogs were loving it!  Strange it is, to see the wings of a chicken flying without the bird attached!
Yes, I do believe I will approach it a little better next time.
On  my own.
Once we got the head (and those pitiful eyes), and the feet out of the way, I knew what to expect. I've had my hand shoved far up enough turkeys at Classic Event's to have a pretty good feel for it



While we are talking about poultry, I should mention the two ducks we've been raising for a few weeks now.
Them critters grow up fast! In the last week they are more than double their original size. They love when I fill the water and drink and play when it is being poured into the bowl. They've started to respond to my sounds when I come in to feed and water them. I did the same with them as I did with my first batch of chickens, told the lady working at  http://www.cacklehatchery.com/ to just pick me out two that would be pretty.
If you ever need chickens, ducks or peafowl , these are the people to see.
Tell them I sent you.
It won't help because they won't know me, but do it anyway.

I would like to send out a big hillbilly congrats to Mark's nephew, Leo. He is the father of twins today.
A boy and a girl. 
I was sure to let Mark know how old he had become because he was now a GREAT-Uncle. But then he reminded me that I held that title well before he did. 
Damn it!!.

He got a laugh a few weeks ago upon hearing what one of his sisters was suggesting for names for the babies.
Ready for it?
Denise, and .......................... (drum roll)......................... Danephew.
Congrats Leo and family!  Great news!

Tomorrow's plans include a bit of gardening in the morning and then try to get on track with the laundry. 
Such fun isn't it?

Oh, the life of this country boy!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lessons in Karma

I have long held to the belief that whatever energy you put out into the world around you is going to be the same energy that you, in turn, receive.
That was especially true this past week.

 At the start of this week I found myself working the soil and putting in a garden. 
I love to garden, more than I had ever realized, and to reap the rewards of a bit of hard work at the end of the season.
Our friends Jerry and Linda have a wonderful farm less than two miles from us here at Origanna Woods.  That's part of it above.
The garden  soil has been turned and properly fertilized with an abundance of  beautiful manure. ( yes, beautiful)
It's  a bit odd to be standing beside three piles of shit that are taller that yourself!
These two nice folks have so many other projects going on that they hardly had the time to even consider planting. 
Let me help! 
Keeping in mind, this is the same Jerry who got a call from us last week, a call of desperation. Our new neighbors were here and had no way of getting their cabin up the hill or leveled in place. Jerry was there in less than a half hour with a back hoe, clearing and widening the road and then pulling the semi and attached cabin up the hill. 
Needless to say, when I heard he wanted a garden but lacked the ability to put one in place, I jumped at the chance to return the favor. After a little conversation and  'careful' planning, we were ready to get to work. With the amount of room to fill, it was obvious there would be much left over garden space.

We managed to come to the conclusion that any extra harvest would be shared by people we knew that really needed the food. Share the bounty. Thirty tomato plants is a lot, especially seeing as we were only planting for a total of 4 people at the start of the project.

This is the long view of the garden. We've managed to plant 32 rows of veggies so far. 
Ok, fruit and veggies if you want to get technical about it!
The KARMA comes into play here because of the work I put in at Abundant Acres, I was given the tomato and pepper plants.  
Batting a thousand so far.
FREE veggies for the year??
SWEET!

This is Mr. Steve Kelly, one of our neighbors on the hill. He is pointing out some of the crop damage due to the hail storm we had yesterday. Only a few broken plants, but they should survive! He's quite proud of the hat he's wearing because it holds one of the tail feathers from my rooster. The same rooster that chases him when he comes to the house! The same rooster that makes him scream like a little girl!
I think he believes it's a trophy of sorts.

 This is the same neighbor I am helping with the wind chimes that we've put on Ebay.

Here's a couple to look at....



Aren't they just full of rustic charm?
Steve's late mother had obviously been prepared to make wind chimes for years judging by the amount of prepped bottles and rings that we've found. It's just going to be a matter of us piecing them all together.
It would be great to sell these so he has a bit of extra income. Check em out!
Mid-week Steve and I went to help the cabin neighbors by cutting out some windows in their stuffy unventilated home.  They seem to be constantly surprised by the amount of help they receive from people they've known less than two weeks.
Again, it's what you put out there......
KARMA also visited the next day while I was working at Gracie's Market. A neighbor from the other side of the hill that I've not really talked to very  much, showed up and asked if I knew anybody that could use a FREE wood chipper and a FREE lawnmower. I excitedly showed him to my van and we loaded them up! Once we got them home and filled the oil they fired right up! SWEET!
Thank you KARMA!
Time to end this one, looking forward to what tomorrow brings.
Later,
J

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The word of the day is ................ WORRY


I was worrying that our kitchen roof would hold under the relentless rain, please,  just for a few more days. 
Worrying that my hometown would not get flooded by the raging Mississippi River. 
Worrying that our new neighbors would not be able to get their new cabin up the road.
Worry,worry, worry. 
Worry that worry looked wrong so I had to double check my spelling! 
Worrying about the side effects of worrying even.

 I really started to get concerned when my Dad called me this afternoon, and it's always great to hear his voice. Especially if it's my birthday, and he's on the other end of the line singing Happy Birthday to me in that strong Barnett baritone voice. Today was different, he was calling  to let me know that the Mississippi river was at an elevation of 49 1/2 feet.  The top of the seawall is at 50 feet.  My hometown is just on the other side of this seawall. And, it's still raining there. Things were being packed up for safety,  and Mom was planning on leaving town  on Wednesday, but my Dad decided he was going to wait until a  mandatory evacuation was announced before he leaves.
It scares me to death to think that after all the bad things that have happened in Caruthersville over the past few years that now is the time to prepare for another  possible small-town disaster
. I still find myself, on occasion, watching this video on youtube that shows the destruction the tornado ravaged on the town just a few years ago.
I am keeping the family,  the friends, the spirit of Caruthersville in my prayers for a few days. Let's hope for the best.

Considering what these families in the Bootheel  are dealing with, it seems to  make my worries of our leaky roof now seem very trivial.
I've been worried about a few cookbooks, yet my parents and hometown neighbors are worried about their homes and safety. 
One thing that I have learned from all this is that the residents of Caruthersville are strong and will overcome any obstacle placed before them.

Back here, in the Origanna Woods, our plan of getting a project done each week is rapidly falling behind schedule. 
One thing leads to another, and before you know it the week is over.Projects untouched.
Between Gracie's market and the few hours of time spent at Abundant Acres, I've managed to push aside some of the things needing to be done here.
  I hope to change that around tomorrow.

The woods got a bit of a boost in the population over the weekend. We were happy to welcome our new neighbors to Sunflower Lane. 
It was only a matter of getting the 40 foot cabin up the treacherous hill that is in the heart of the lane, not to mention getting it around the sharp right hand curve at the top of the hill.
Six hillbillies,  three Amish (?) gentlemen, 2 chainsaws, a backhoe    ( NOT to be confused with my lovely drag friend Maxine, who is fondly referred to as  a black ho), and several hours later, they were able to accomplish this crazy chore!
The new folks seem to be profoundly grateful for the assistance from strangers that helped in getting their home settled. That's just the way it is on the hill.
That's just the way it is!
I believe that seeing the end of this day quickly approaching is a true blessing............ I believe that it's time to call it a night and turn in. I can see that  "PIG" already has a nice warm spot and is settled in, now to go move him out of my bed!
I have hope for  a better tomorrow, and can't wait to see what the day brings. 

till next time....
j

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I think it's gonna rain......

After a week of serious storms for us in Origanna Woods, I am anxiously looking forward to the sunshine that our local           weather-persons are promising.
We do love the sound of the rain, as it is  gently landing on our metal roof and also enjoy the comforting, cozy evenings around the fires. Unfortunately,  as we entered  what felt like the 5th consecutive day of  rain and thunder-boomers , I felt our sanity may be coming  into question. 
Not to mention the lighting strikes, that I was certain were lighting up the dark less than 5 feet away.
It was indeed a wet, soggy, Easter Weekend.
We decided to spend our Easter quietly, and enjoyed a delicious pork roast with veggies. For dessert, we ate the cake that  our friends, Charlotte and Lois had made.  I hope to return the favor by doing a little bit of work on these nice ladies houses. I can't wait for Brandon to be here in the woods with Mark and I. He will be able to help do some work with me and make life a little easier for both of them. One has a pigeon problem that we need to tackle. I hope he's not as scared of pigeons as he is of snakes!
The rest of our Easter was spent lounging around the old boob tube.
Nothing exciting by most people's standards but it was a very enjoyable day.
Plans for the  week include a bit of work at Gracie's Market and also a bit of work at ABUNDANT ACRES. 
I will try to find a little  more time  to accomplish the mountain of projects around this house as well, just as soon as we dry out!
It's less than a week now before the roofing material is delivered and we can complete the kitchen roof. I am totally stoked about this project and wish it were already finished!
Once the outer roof is complete we will be able to make the kitchen  exactly the way we want it. No more shifting things around all the time. Nothing is  worse than an unorganized kitchen! Nothing.

 Miracle of Miracles, the sun is starting to shine for us.  Let the drying begin.

Til next time...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This Mother's Love............... for my Mother Becky. Happy Birthday!

I realized this evening when I got home from working the plants, that today was my dear, sweet, loving (step) Mother's Birthday.
And I forgot to call.
I am certain that there is indeed, a special kind of   hell for a son that does not remember to call his Mama on her Birthday.
I do, however understand, no mere words can undo my mistake. But, me being me, is going to try....

Mom, 
I love you. 
Happy Birthday.


This Mother's Love


This Mother's Love
was as strong as our first

This Mother's Love
showed more when we were
at our worst

This Mother's Love
is as sure and as bright as the Sun

This Mother's Love
nurtured us as few could have
done

This Mother's Love
it flows from her heart

This Mother's Love
we all miss when we are apart

This Mother's Love 
has held onto us all tight

This Mother's Love 
was there in our darkest of nights

This Mother's Love 
is not
'STEP'
it is not indeed

This Mother's Love
is the love of our MOTHER 
that's all it could be.






Tuesday, April 19, 2011

HOLY TOMATO PLANTMAN!

Another beautiful week has come and gone for us here in Origanna Woods.
We had one night of chill, but a fire quickly warmed us up.
 Every day for us is consumed by chores and trying to complete little projects. Of which there are many. Get the garden going, get the roof done, finish the drywall, run the wiring, finish the bathroom, the deck, on and on and on.......
Pick one and start there. So we did.   We did manage to finish the steps outside of the bathroom this week, which makes the duty of bathroom cleaning a bit easier. The first step out the door is no longer a giant leap, especially nice when carrying a full bucket of ka-ka out for a bleaching.  Another small job was de-cluttering the bathroom area. It had become the most convenient room to store the tools, drywall, dirty clothes and whatever else found its way there.Not that theirs anything wrong with have a circular saw  or 15 sheets of drywall near the toilet, but it does get annoying because it just makes you think of everything that needs to be finished.
Now that we are into the warmer, yet rainy weather, we've opened up the back rooms we built and roofed last year. These two unfinished rooms are perfect work/storage spaces. This also makes another project, building shelves for the organization of everything.
Next up will be to rework the former bathroom/bedroom/junk room into a real bathroom space.
I do believe that 5 bedrooms is as good as 6.
I mean REALLY??
It's not like we are planning on adopting a 3rd world family or anything. Besides, what would the neighbors think???
Once we've removed the former bed platform it gives us more than enough room to put in a walk in shower.
In keeping with our water conservation plans, the bathroom floor will have a trench style drain which will lead to our gray water reservoir  system. More water saved to use on our garden.
While on the subject of gardening, I've been chatting with one of Origanna neighbors that lives on Sunflower Lane, just up the opposite road from us. You know, 'OVER YONDER"
After hearing her talk of how much work she had to do get plants finished, I volunteered to help if I could. She called a couple days ago asking if the offer to assist was still on the table, I said of course.
What I didn't know was that they had a working farm. Or that I was going to be paid for my time.  Nice.
Pam and Randel have an internet business of selling heirloom herbs and vegetables. I ended up helping  replant several hundred tomato plants. As well as several varieties of peppers. The sweet ones  and some that are rated as the hottest variety available.
Beautiful Basil, that I would have planted all day because it smelled so great!
 I even transplanted several tobacco plants.
After 8 hours of replanting, and playing in the dirt,  my back was letting me know I was finished for the day, but I also said yes when  asked if I could come back the next day. After all, I did really enjoy it!
It is obviously the  busiest time of the year for this small family owned farm. It's a beautiful spot of ground and no chemicals are used on the products. There are  a few sheep,several porch sittin' country dogs, and a few  cats running around. It's just right!
If you are looking for the best quality of veggies and also wanting to help out a local family PLEASE go to this site and order away. He DOES ship your order to you.
http://www.abundantacres.net/

This couple works hard and I would love to see them do more business. So please check into it for me. And for yourselves. I promise you will find things here you won't find elsewhere.



In other news.........

Our rooster is still getting plenty of chicken nookie. I don't want to tell him that we are gonna be slaughtering  his chicken bitches this week. I'm sure he'll figure it out . This may be the first one on the butcher block.........
Mark has a fan club that follows him every time he goes outside.
This hen  was sneaky, and followed him inside at dusk,.She perched in this spot for what she thought  was the night, but found herself in the coop real fast!
For the butchering, Mark and I have a 6 foot ceramic sink counter that we are mounting outside so that we have a clean space to take on this chore.  Sounds much better than chicken blood spray on the walls inside, looking all CSI and such.  Like something out of  a  Patricia Cornwell story.   I can't wait to see how Rebel reacts to this. Better yet, to see  how I handle it.
You do realize that I'm going to terrorize Mark with some part of these chickens, don't you?
 He may wish he had a turbo boost on that wheelchair by the time I'm finished.
It's not like we are  gonna be the first persons  ever  to kill a chicken,but............... ewwwwwwwww.
The worst part is gonna be the leftovers. What to do with them?
I'm thinking designer chicken foot belt buckles or ear rings. But we will see.  :)
If I leave the tendons and mount it on a rod, then Mark could have a hand made hillbilly grabber for when he drops the remote control to the television . Or, when he has an itch he just can't reach.  Maybe some gold beak bookends. I do believe the possibilities are endless!
We won't tell him about it.
He does love a good surprise.

I've recently discovered that our dog Rebel may suffer from OCD of some sort.

He has a REAL problem with sticks that float in water. It doesn't matter is this stick is small and in a mud puddle or of this stick is 6 foot long and in the middle of our neighbors pond. They do NOT belong there, and it is his duty to remove them. At all cost.
I had walked to our neighbors  pond to check on the ducks that I had seen swimming there in the morning. Sitting peacefully on the bank watching them swim and do their beautiful duck stuff, it was nice. I saw Rebel  nosing around the edge pulling out branches that I suppose he just didn't care for. He spotted the tip of a branch floating about 5 feet out and decided it was worth the swim to investigate the situation. After a good five minutes of struggling to bring the branch/log ashore, he was obviously having a hard go at it, and running out of steam.  With the branch in tow and not  considering  the idea of releasing it, his little legs were giving out and his head went under, he bounced up quick and had a look of what I would call panic in his eyes. I knew he was not going to surrender to some stupid  stick and that I would have to reach in a grab him and his new best toy. What I didn't know was that my second step in the water was going to send me nipple deep in cold water. Stupid dog. Stupid stick.      Wet me.
Covered in pond scum and only cussing slightly, I was rewarded with an abundance of puppy kisses. Wet and stinky as they were, it was worth it.
As you can see in the picture above he is not your average dog.  I have to take my pillows off the bed every morning and leave him his. I know better than to make the bed before it's time, otherwise I would be making it several times a day. When he feels me stirring, he gives a big yawn and stares at me letting me know I can move my ass out of his way.  
Don't expect him to be out of bed before 10 A.M. either, that is, unless you jingle the work keys or the heavenly  sound of  delicious kibble being poured in his dish reaches his ears.
 Time to be productive and check off another project.

That's it from me for now.
May your worries be few and your blessings be many....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I can't believe that it is so difficult to keep up a blog on a regular basis. It seems like the warmer it gets, the faster the day is over. By the time I've done the daily chores and wasted time at http://www.stumbleupon.com/ looking for creative ideas on homesteading, it is already time to cook dinner, feed the dogs, chickens and sugar glider, then finally ourselves.

Mark and I are usually on the couch watching THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE before the 6:30 starting time.

He is graceful everytime I kick his behind at it! Take for example the night this was the puzzle I solved with one letter....... living thing............................. _.... _ _ _ _ _ _...... _ _ ....._ _ _ S _.

Any clue what it is yet?

Maybe I will let you think about it for a minute and tell you later!



The plans that Mark and I have for this next week is to have the rest of the material delivered for the roof over the kitchen. Our hope is that this is the LAST of the roofing that we will have to do for a while.

Not that being up on rafters is a bad thing, holding on with your big toe and a pinkie, praying that your junk doesn't slip to the other side of the beam throwing you off balance and sending you to your death below.

I'm not a big fan of heights (that doesn't involve a harness of some sort ) and tend to shake more than a big girls ass in spandex.

Pretty, I know.

I would still love to go skydiving at some time, but, just don't ask me to climb that ladder! Go figure that one out!

Once we've finished the new roof over the kitchen our next goal is to finish the bathroom and possibly do a bit of decking between the house and the library. Which in turn would serve two purposes, one, Mark would have a nice level area right outside the door of the dining room and would also gain access to the library. Unfortunatly, the 'library' is now a second shed and needs to be cleaned out and organized before being wired and insulated and finished. Good news is that there is no roofing involved!

The bathroom is going to be made out of the middle room off of the dining room. The room had started as one of the first bedrooms, but as the house grew our plans changed accordingly.

This does make more sense, seeing as how it is centrally located. The whole room will be tiled and open with a drain trench in the floor. By catching the grey water, we can use it to water the garden and for use cleaning our tools and such outside. W are designing it with Mark in mind, so this involves a bench seat on the back wall of the shower and a solid hand grip for accessibility.

Our hope is that by the time Fall rolls around we will have many of our little projects finished and be a lot more comfortable come winter. Without spending a small fortune running the furnace.

Hopefully we will be able to get duct work in place under the house and have an outdoor furnace in place by November. Keep your fingers crossed.

So many projects, so little time!!!!



In other news, our friends from Kansas are hitting the homestead trail and moving to Origanna Woods in as soon as 2 weeks. We are looking forward to their arrival, and to finally meeting in person.

Their family will be close to GRACIES MARKET so I hope to see them often.



Our good friend Brandon is also hitting the hillbilly trail ,and is expected to arrive in mid-May.

He is a great source of motivation so I know he will be happy to jump in and get to work. Hmmm......... roofing may wait til he arrives!



Now back to the one letter puzzle above, did you figure it out? A GAGGLE OF GEESE.



Later!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Beginning......

POST  # 11


I decided that I should share a few photos and tidbits of our naive, challenging, insane, heart warming, love filled  journey into homesteading, just to give a better idea of what has taken place to get us to where we are today. Which is, at home.

In October of  1998, Mark, Roger, and myself,  thought it would be a great idea to buy some land together.  To have a bit of ground that was ours no matter what. After the housing bust and bad economy  of the past few years, this has turned into a FANTASTIC idea. As of two years ago we had paid off the land and owned it outright.

We purchased the 12.2 acres site unseen, online.
Our first visit wasn't for several months after we bought it.
  Naturally, we loved it the second we saw how beautiful it was.
This is a small pond that is located on the second parcel of land we purchased up the road from the house.  We were initially going to build closer to here, but while walking the property I discovered a power line that was already  in place but was hidden by the overgrowth. We were able to save some cash because we didn't have to call  the power company to  come and put up lines for us. With a bit of clearing and cleaning we had a very nice spot to begin.

Our next concern was shelter of some sort. We were only visiting a few times a year at first, if that.
It took up a lot of room in the car for us, tools, wheelchair, luggage and the dogs. We have made many trips from Illinois with the car/van loaded to the MAX and then some!

We decided to have a tool shed delivered first,  and serve as a multi-purpose building.  Storage, so that we could leave the tools and have them in place when we needed them. Sleeping quarters, in case the weather turned really bad while we were visiting.
In October of the next year we made our first addition. We added on a 12 x 20 pole shed across the front of the tool shed. This was to become the kitchen.
Many hours were and are still spent in this kitchen. Preparing delicious meals, having coffee and visiting with friends and neighbors. Some days it was just sitting around the fire staying warm.
Other improvements are added in  over time. Like having power run to the two rooms. This was such a big step up from essentially camping out.
We are still without a well, which means no running water. We hope that it will become a reality this year.  Yet, life without running water isn't as bad as you might think.
Yes, it drives me nuts  that I have a washer and dryer sitting in the shed waiting to be hooked up.
Yes, it drives me nuts that I have to heat up water to do the dishes and for general maintenance.
Yes, it makes me appreciate the fact that I can use (waste) less water than any person I know.
The way we tend to our 'business' has changed over the years as well. It brought me great joy to connect the sledgehammer to the side of the outhouse that we had inherited with the land.
After a bit of internet research I started using the humanure method.
It's a little more work than flushing, but look at the benefits involved.
 This next space has become the dining room and you see the kitchen to the left. The area outside the doorway will be decked this year and will connect to the library we've built. This big space was divided down the middle and the back half (from this view) has become a bedroom and a bathroom.

This is the reverse side, here you can see that we've not roofed over the tool shed. That has been done. It does make for an odd view, but once we've painted it all to match it won't be so obvious. (Hopefully)
Seeing as how its right off the kitchen, we've decided that this would be a perfect pantry space.
 Above you will see the fireplace and insulation being hung in the dining room. I just really LOVE hanging insulation......... notice the sarcasm. I think  I would rather eat  drywall than hang insulation.
 This is the same room during Christmas dinner 2010. Notice we had not hung the drywall on the ceiling yet. We just finished that project two weeks ago!
I think we'll end our little journey right here for now. If you are interested in reading a more detailed journal of our struggles and triumphs feel free to hop on over to Mark's Missouri Journal by clicking on his name.

 I hope you enjoy reading and seeing what I've been up to with all my friends for the last 15 years. Leave a comment and come back often!
Next time I'll show more of the rooms and then get to the front of the house and the library.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Birthdays , Bondsmen, and Betty ..........

POST # 10

The month started like any other February, cold, icy, and snow covered.  I was surprised that by my birthday on Valentine's Day, the temperature had warmed up to the mid 50's.  Good thing global warming is a hoax or I'd be concerned.
I did enjoy a nice birthday and was humbled by the number of friends  who took a few minutes out of their day to send well wishes.

After months cooped up in the Manor, it was finally warm enough, and the road was dry enough, for Mark to make a trip down the hill in his new wheelchair. It works perfect for him. It is much higher than his previous chair.  So  now his sitting height is almost 5 foot  tall. 
He's really enjoyed making the trek to Gracie's Market a few times this week, and actually being able to come inside the store for the first time ever!
To see where some of the stories I tell him come from.
I asked a customer what their plans were for the day and the response was, " getting drunk and pullin' titties."
To each their own.
 Come to find out he's a dairy farmer and it was milkin' time on the farm!
I loaded Mark and his chair into the car and we headed to Lebanon last week to pay some bills and get off the hill. It appears that Lebanon, Missouri is not set up as well as Illinois is as far as wheelchair accessibility is concerned.  Arriving to  take care of our bill we were surprised to  find that the only way into the business was UP 3 steps. Hard to do in a wheelchair.
Nothing a letter to the mayor won't help fix.
Considering all the wheelchairs I've seen here you would think that every business would be ramped and easily accessed.
That's not even bringing in the fat factor. I've never seen so many obese people as I have in this area.  Seriously, ever heard of salad??????

A friend on the hill celebrated his birthday a few days after mine.  Unfortunatly, his idea of 'celebrating' is a LOT different than mine.
Mine didn't include meth or jail time.
It is very sad that the only thing these kids find fun to do is the one thing that leads to jail or loss of sanity, or DEATH.
What ever happened  to hanging out at the skating rink, bowling or cruising the loop? Are those days in the past?
If only there were something that could be done.....

To make matters worse our friends granmother passed away 4 days later, while he sat in a cell.
The only good that came from this is that she passed quck and didn't suffer.
 Nor did she konw about the troubles her grandson had gotten into.
At 84 she was still a spitfire!
She may not have always remembered my name, she called me pretty boy,
 but she would always comment that I had a cute butt!
 After so long without one , I was happy to take the compliment!
Betty, your sweet smilin' Irish eyes will be missed.

The best thing about this week is that spring is in the air. Daffodils are popping their sleepy heads up and vultures are circling their prey. ( I was told that Vultures come back when it gets warm, the vultures I know never leave)
It's now time to get seeds together and start planning our garden. I will be starting some plants indoors in mid-March and will keep you posted on our progress.
HURRY SPRING, HURRY!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stuffed toys and full drywall boys......

POST #9


It's been another great day on the mountain today.  I woke up at the crack of ten a.m. which I never do!
It must have something to do with Mark and I staying up entirely way to late watching SPARTACUS God's of the Arena
 I just don't understand it, men, naked men, men in leather skirts fighting and some even making out. Kinda gay. Or is it just me?

 Anyway,  Mark and I had several visitors at the house today, which we always enjoy.
James "Little Wood" and his buddy Garrett stopped by today to help with some drywall and insulation projects upstairs. It seems they like to work and eat  just have something to do to keep themselves out of trouble. Fine by me. We've got plenty of projects, where would you like to start?!


Once the guys  got upstairs I went to the kitchen and started some "gumbo".

Here is the recipe that I made up:

In a nice heavy pot I browned the meats with a little bit of oil.
4 links of venison smoked sausage
2 large chicken breast ( cut up)

When the meats were browned I removed them from the pot and in the juices that were left I  added:
3T butter
2T olive oil
2 large diced onions
diced celery ( with as much of the leaves as I had)
fresh garlic ( I love garlic and used 5 toes)
1 green pepper
2 T cumin
1T ground Chipotle
salt
pepper
2 bay leaves

I let all the above saute and simmer in the bit of liquid til the onions and celery were tender. At this point I added the meats back in-------

including 1 pound of shrimp ( you can buy pre-cooked or raw, I use the raw)

----and filled the pot almost full with water and brought it to a boil. Then turned it back down to a simmer.


An hour later I added.
2 cups chopped okra
1Cup of brown rice
1 can of roasted tomato
 1 small can of tomato paste

Finally, I continued to let this mix simmer on the stove for a few hours until we were ready to eat.


Our neighbors seven year old daughter, Tolara, came with a basket of birthday goodies for me also. A few extra to add to my previous days haul.



I've always had a soft spot for a good dinosaur magnet book, minus the magnets! How did she know!!!
I've got to give her credit, she said she knows that I like to cook and that I like dogs. She did pretty darn well!
After admiring my lovely basket of goodies, we got down to the business of baking peanut butter cookies.
Even though I usually just go to www.allrecipes.com for ideas, today we found a perfect recipe in one of the several cookbooks that we have, titled The Pennysaver Cookbook, by Dan and Inez Morris and set out measuring the ingredients.
I made sure to show her how to scale the flour and baking soda so as to get exact measurements. She thought it was pretty nifty running a chop-stick across the top of the measuring cup to get rid of the extra flour.
She also made it perfectly clear that 7 years old was certainly old enough to turn on the  snazzy, ultra fancy, blue kitchen-aid mixer by herself and  that she knew well enough to keep her fingers away from the mixing blade.
Once the dough was mostly made we (being she) added the four teaspoons of hot water to make it just right.
Charlotte, our very pleasant little elder-neighbor had also stopped by today to visit, and having a frozen bag of birthday COD was as good  an excuse to get out of her house for a while as any.
We really do enjoy her company. She is full of mountain wisdom and sharp wit! Although, I can't remember ever getting COD for a birthday. Let alone Uncle Ben's rice or instant oatmeal. This must be the 'year of firsts'.
Well, as the cookies were coming out of the oven, with just the right amount of sugar sparkle, Miss Charlotte's eyes were twinkling and she was telling little Tolara how pretty those cookies were. You could see the pride in Tolara's face. She really did most of the work with minimal supervision on my part. Like it or not.
I think the two ladies had a fun time at the Manor today.

After the cookies were done, we decided that it was time to dig into some hillbilly gumbo, minus the squirrel. It got rave reviews! The three young guys each had 2 large bowls as did Mark and I.Charlotte declined because shrimp gives her gas.
On a side note, Charlotte, pictured here last summer, has a rather famous baseball playing brother. Marty Patton . She was surprised to see the info I pulled  up on him in a matter of minutes.

Here it is almost 8pm and it's just Mark and I hanging with the dogs. We enjoyed the weather and the company today. The smiles and the laughs do prove that it's the little things in life that matter.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Birthdays, Bitches and Big Hair!

POST #8


As I approach the 22nd anniversary of my 21st birthday, I have done some reflecting on life.  As most of us do around our birthdays.
I remember looking forward to turning 21.  It was a big deal to be able to legally buy alcohol, not that sneaking to Mr. B's drive-up window wasn't fun when I was a teenager.
 It was fun to cruise the loop in Caruthersville, listening to the radio and thinking we were big Ka-Ka with our wine coolers !
The only thing BIG about us was our hair! Thank you Earl D.
Had to love the 80's!
My 21st birthday was spent in Champaign, Illinois. At the bar I worked at, Chester Street. 
Of course, with it being Valentines Day, there was a drag show. (again, big hair)
 If you've never had a bar full of people and about 20 drag queens singing happy birthday to you, you don't know what your missing!  I still have nightmares!!
It was a great night with friends as far as I can remember. At least I was told that I had a great time.

 Strange the events we remember in our lives............  also strange are the ones we try to forget!

So, now what?  Do I look  forward to turning 43 with the excitement I had when I was turning 21?
Not exactly.
This year is to celebrate making it this far, to appreciate the little things.
 I have been blessed and highly favored as far as I am concerned, for the friends I've made and the lives that in some small way I have touched. And by the lives that I have been touched by.
I look back on my life ( so far) with pride, and maybe some embarrassment ( Sr. pictures).
But thankful to be looking back none the less, to have the chance to say to anybody that will listen, here I am and this is my story.
Reflecting again ,on more of  my fathers words when he said  "You will be defined  in life by who your friends are".
I am glad to be defined by each of them...........
Each has taught me something powerful. How to laugh, to cry, to cheer and fight.  How to stand on my feet and how to get up when I fall.
To respect, to encourage, to  care and to listen.
So, an extra candle on the cake this year.
Fine.
It only means a little less room for frosting!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Blowing Snow BLOWS

POST  #7


Other than the weather, it's been a nice week for us here in Origanna Woods.
As of now we are sitting under a beautiful 5 inches of snow. It's in the upper 30's here today, so a bit of the ice is melting away.
After many long months of waiting, Mark's new wheelchair arrived yesterday.  15 K worth of  Handi-hauling power! The new chair is easily  one foot higher than his previous chair, this allows (for the first time), Mark to be able to see what I am cooking on the stove. I politely pointed out that with this new level of elevation comes new responsibilities, and then I showed him the dishes................
We are excited for  his first trip down the hill to GRACIE'S MARKET where he can also check the mail. Sometimes the ability to do the little things give us the most strength. Still doesn't mean I want to date a Chinese guy, so I will find little things elsewhere.
I did manage to make it into town to do a bit of shopping, thank goodness. I try to only go into town twice a month unless there is something I absolutely need. It was a long 4 hour trip, but managed to get a lot done.
Daisy has decided to grace us with her presence.............

This is our lovely pup having a play at the neighbors pond. She has found her a buddy that lives up the road a bit and spends more nights with him than she does at home! I'm not worried about her running here because all the neighbors love to see her when she visits.
The other dogs have taken well to the country life also. Sydnee is an 11 year old sheltie who loves to bark at the shadows, she has calmed down so much since being here, she is like a new dog.
Rebel, well he's just Rebel. Our little "Pig". I say 4 words and he is at the door......... "Let's go to work".
It's funny to watch him run and greet the customers at the store, most of whom call him "PIG".
Every day that passes is a day that I am thankful for choices we made in getting us where we are today. Our little piece of hillbilly heaven in the Ozarks. I love seeing what comes my way every day.
Even if it's our 74 year old neighbor Charlotte, talking about ' lifting her leg' to make her husband happy.
My , oh my............................