Category Archives: Stories from the Household of CM & CMW

Snowy days and Doughnuts

“If it’s going to snow tomorrow,” said Certain Man to his wife last evening, “are we going to fry doughnuts?”

CMW, remembering the last time when the only help she had was his, and it was a bigger job than she wanted, said, ‘”Not if it it’s just you and me! I need more help!”

He looked a little hurt and CMW hastened to add that he had helped well, but it’s such a big job!  And between mixing and rolling and cutting and frying and dipping and such, it was really a big expenditure of energy. He said no more and she said no more and that was that.

Today, local family came and over the Shanghai game, the subject of frying doughnuts came up again. “Mom, are you going to make doughnuts on this snowy day?”  Said one of the offspringin’s.

Before CMW could say a single word, Certain Man uttered a very terse statement.  “I asked the same thing and was told that my help wasn’t good enough.  So I figured, ‘Oh, well!'”

Great was the general indignant outcry concerning the availability of help and the insistence that we should make doughnuts and how we NEEDED to make doughnuts.  I mean, it’s snowing, for pity sakes, doesn’t EVERYONE make doughnuts when it snows?  (Sue Kauffman, do you see what you started?!?!?!?  Honestly!!!)

So now there is doughnut dough rising, and CMW needs to go and get it rolled out and ready to fry.  Doughnuts sound really good to her, but how she wishes there were a way to get them without everything getting into disarray in her clean kitchen, and especially, she wishes there was a way to eat as many as she wanted without getting a pain in her gall bladder, and the lubs (lbs.) on her “Lubber!”

Wish us fair sailing, fine friends.  CMW is off to make doughnuts!

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Filed under Cooking, My Life, Stories from the Household of CM & CMW, Uncategorized

CMW Looks for a Way

“I’m so proud of myself,” I announced to the general public of my kitchen, as I came out of the laundry room.  “General public” in this case was all of Certain Man and Youngest Daughter.

Youngest Daughter was mixing up a cold glass of Ovaltine and milk.  Certain Man was dishing himself a bowl of ice cream with some toppings.  I heard the p-f-f-f-f-f-f-t-t-t-t sound of the Redi-Whip can as he swirled a couple of rounds on top of his cold vanilla sweetness.  “Wonderful!” He said.  “What did you do?

“I did surgery on myself!” I announced triumphantly.  That stopped everything.

“What did you do???”

“I took that troublesome lump off the inside of my lip that I kept biting.”  I had the offensive tiny white piece in my between my thumb and forefinger.

This produced sounds of retching from Youngest Daughter, with great holdings of the stomach and strong statements as to the state of her health and why she would never be a surgeon and other strong verbalization of disapprobation.

“Hon!”  Said Certain Man.  “What in the world do you think you are doing?”

“I was tired of biting it all the time, so I took it off!”

“But how? You have a fit every time I try to do something even little, and then you go and do something like that!”

“I was careful,” I said, pulling my lip out.  “See!”

“But how did you do it?”  He looked askance at where the rather large skin tag had been.

At my last cleaning, I had asked my dentist about removing it, and he said it was a common thing and he didn’t seem to think I would want to spend the money to have it removed.  I have been troubled by it for years and would often peer in there to see if it was going away by itself (it wasn’t!) or getting larger (sometimes it seemed like it maybe was!).  I had tried various things over the last few months when it seemed that I was catching it over and over again and giving it a hearty bite when I was eating.  I’m not saying that I didn’t unknowingly “worry” it at night, but I truly seldom “bit my lip” in my waking hours (unless it was this accidental, excruciating move that caught me so unaware and sometimes made me want to cry!).  Over the last month, I’ve taken to giving it a good brushing with my toothbrush, followed by some good listerine mouthwash, and I thought it was actually doing better, but then, last week one day, I crunched down on it and we were pretty much back to square one.

Tonight, after putting the ladies to bed, I noticed that it was more tender than usual.  I explored it with my tongue and wondered again what I could do to get rid of it on my own.  I perched in front of the bathroom mirror where there was plenty of light and looked the situation over.  And had a sudden inspiration!

“I wonder what would happen if I took a length of dental floss and tied it around the base of that skin tag and pulled it really tight.”  There was a time, years back, when I had a large, blood filled skin tag on my leg and I tied a string around the base of that very tightly and it dropped off in a few days and I’ve never had a bit of trouble with it since.  I honestly didn’t think this thing through very carefully, but I got a piece of waxed dental floss and tried to loop it over the skin tag.  It slipped right off.

“Lord Jesus, maybe this isn’t going to work.  But if this is something I can do for myself, would you please help me?”

On the very next try, it looped over nicely and I pulled it tight.

Ouch!  That hurt.  Maybe I should just take it off.  But it wouldn’t come off.  It wasn’t as tight, but that dental floss was securely around it and wasn’t budging.  I looked at my poor skin tag and at the dental floss hanging out of my mouth and wondered if I could trim it off short and just leave it there for the night.  That didn’t seem like a good idea.  I thought of calling Middle Daughter, the nurse, but remembered that she isn’t fond of this sort of ministrations to family members.  Besides.  She would probably scold me.  I decided to pull it tight again.  I only got so far, and then it really hurt again.  I thought maybe I should just knot it, trim it off till morning and see what happened.  But I couldn’t get it to knot since the original crossover was behind the skin tag.  So I thought some more.  Looked at it some more.  Pulled it tight again until it hurt and then stopped.

I decided to bring it around to the front of the skin tag and see about knotting it there.  So I brought it around, crossed it over and pulled it tight again.  It still hurt but not quite as bad.  H-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m.  Maybe if I would pull it tighter by degrees, I could manage to actually squeeze it off.  I kept working at pulling it tighter and tighter until I finally could pull it no tighter.  The skin tag was pearly white against the pink skin, but no matter how hard I pulled on the ends of the dental floss, it wouldn’t cut through the connecting tissue.

I went and got a razor blade.  Everyone was absent from the kitchen and didn’t notice my goings and coming.  I went back to the bathroom mirror and assessed the situation.  A razor blade did not look like a good idea.  If I only had a sharp scissors!  No, wait.  Maybe I should put an ice cube in there to deaden anything that I might feel before I snipped.  Back to the kitchen to get an ice cube.  When I put that on the lip, I realized that things were not quite as “dead” as I thought.  I discarded the ice cube in the bathroom sink and thought about it.  I again pulled on the dental floss ends and didn’t feel any discomfort at all in the skin tag.  Then I remembered that OGA had a very sharp, little scissors in her top dresser drawer.  I fetched it out, sterilized it under the Instant Hot in the kitchen and went back to the bathroom mirror.

The two ends of the dental floss worked very well to pull the skin tag up and out from the rest of the lip.  I positioned the blades of the scissors as carefully as I could and “snip!” the skin tag was off.  No pain.  However, the dental floss was still firmly attached to the connecting material.  I hadn’t cut close enough!  So once again, I took my scissors and tried to actually get into the dental floss that was holding flast.

Success!  The dental floss came off, leaving a tight little “stitch” still in place.  There was no bleeding, just a smooth, clear place where the bothersome skin tag had been.  It was about then that I did my little victory dance, and went to the kitchen to make my proclamation.

Certain Man was looking at me dubiously.  “That still doesn’t sound good,” he said disapprovingly.

“Doesn’t it look okay?” I asked him.  “I mean, it isn’t bleeding at all, is it?”

“No,” he admitted, “It’s not bleeding, and it doesn’t look bad, but it could have been bad.”  He took his bowl of ice cream and went back to his chair.  I finished up a few things in the kitchen, and felt for changes on the inside of my lip.  Eventually the little “stitch” came out, but apparently it had stayed long enough to keep serious bleeding at bay.  If there was one thing that worried me, it was the way mouth injuries will bleed and bleed and bleed.  I seem to be spared that.

And now Certain Man went to bed.  He had an eventful night apart from his wife’s shenanigans.  The house is relatively quiet — and I will also head to bed. It’s been a good day for me, too, and I am very tired.

Tonight, I am thankful for a great many things.  I had lunch today with a woman whose heartache over her family was beyond my comprehension.  I give thanks for my good, good husband, our five terrific offspringin’s and their spouses and our grandchildren.  I’m grateful for my two sisters and three brothers and their families.  We really don’t realize how good we have it.  May I just say that the decision to follow Jesus is still the one thing that makes a difference in the lives of people?

I’m thankful for tomatoes.  And for canning jars and cookstoves and recipes and food for the winter.

I’m thankful for my kitchen that sees so much living and is so serviceable and handy and pleasant.

And I’m thankful that God sometimes chooses to honor the harebrained ideas of this Delaware Grammy with crazy exciting results and gives me so much joy on the journey.  And I’m especially thankful for a place inside my lip that is unfamiliarly smooth tonight and that, as of now, it really does not hurt.

My heart gives grateful praise.

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Filed under Family living, Stories from the Household of CM & CMW

Cutting the “Grumpy” Out

Some of the most exciting times of our lives as farmers have centered around the bovines that Certain Man raises for meat.  As noted in the last post, there was considerable excitement when one such animal jumped the fence and gave all of us a run for our money.  In another post, I may tell the story of the night we had that supper when we invited everyone who helped that day to a mystery supper — but there has been another story brewing over very recent happenings at the very same farm involving the same sort of animal.

Certain Man has gotten little Jersey bulls over the last couple of years because they were not as hard on his pocketbook as the ones of the Holstein lineage.  These beautiful little critters are smaller than their big boned counterparts, and CM was loathe to deprive them of their manhood, contending that they would “convert better” if they were given some time before becoming steers.  This has always been a point of concern to his wife, especially since there were times in the past when the intent was to wait until the last possible minute — and then, somehow, it got “too late” and then the last couple months of the lives of our two year meat projects were spent “being careful” whenever Certain Man was in the same pen or even pasture as the bulls.

And this happened again this year.  Our yearling Jersey bulls had escaped the precautionary operation and had matured at an alarming rate.  One of the three was docile.  He was actually the smallest of the three, and he spent his time quietly going about his business, eating grass, not paying much attention to anything.  The second of the three was suspiciously bossy, occasionally acting like he wanted to start something, and he wasn’t to be trusted too far.  The third one, the biggest and oldest, was a basket of fury and hormones and aggression.

From the time he was a small calf, he wouldn’t take much from anyone.  Spunky, feisty and strong, he grew worse as the months passed.  By the time he was nine months old, he was the boss of everything, even the older steers that were about to go to market.  But this spring and summer, he became incorrigible.  He would bellow and snort at anything that took his attention that was out of the ordinary that he didn’t approve of.  He would bang his horns against the fence and against the side of the barn, tearing holes in the tin on the side of the entrance to his pen.  He would dig big holes in the pasture and loudly make known his displeasure with anything and anyone.

“You need to do something about that bull,” I would tell Certain Man.  “He’s going to hurt someone!”

“I know,” Certain Man would say.  “I really need to do something, but I am pretty sure it’s too late to band them.  I think I’m going to see if Billy or someone will bring his chute down here and give me a hand.  I think I’m going to need to get the vet.”

And then more time would go by, and someone would mention something about that “bull sounds really cross!”  or “What in the world is wrong with that one of your cows?  He makes a terrible fuss!” or (the thing that really bothered me) “Our kids won’t go out there to talk to your cows any more.  They’re scared of them!”

“Daniel,” I would say on occasion, “I’m really afraid that someone is going to get hurt.  Most of the kids who come know not to get into the pasture, but what if one of them does?  Or what if he gets out?”

“I know,” he would say, impatient at my nagging, but also not sure of what he should/could do.  “I really need to do something.”

And then, one day while he was in the pen, the bull started at him, pawing and snorting.  Certain Man had the handle of a pitchfork at the ready, and he walloped him a good one and caught him just below his horns.  It was a hefty blow, and the bull backed up, shook his head and came at him again.  This time Certain Man got a solid whack across his nose and brought him to his knees.  He got up and turned away.  As he rounded the corner leaving the barn, CM saw that his nose was bleeding. This particular incident had two effects upon Certain Man.  He began to make sure that his pitchfork handle was always handy and he began to actively plan a time in the very near future when he could take care of this militant aggressor’s basic motivation.  As for the subject at hand, he appeared to be watching for his chances, but was always very respectful when he caught sight of the pitchfork handle.

The bellowing and snorting and pawing and clanging of the horns against anything close at hand was not lost upon our observant granddaughter.  Ever one to be at her Grandpa’s side whenever possible, she was very concerned about the state of affairs in Grandpa’s barn.  On more than one occasion, she complained to me about that fussy bull.  “I don’t like how that cow sounds, Grammy,” she would say.  “He sounds so mad!”

Then came the day when Certain Man’s vet, Dr. Christina Dayton-Wall stopped by to check on the newest member of Certain Man’s herd, a lively, beautiful little jersey bull calf.  She checked him over thoroughly, gave him a vaccination and a shot and pronounced him healthy and strong.  All the while, the belligerent fellow bellowed his protests at the intrusion into his domain.  Certain Man seized the opportunity to tell her about his troubles with the mad bull and asked her opinion about the feasibility of “banding” or whether she thought the present state of affairs would demand a knife.

“No question,” was her cheerful reply.  “They will need an operation.  And I wouldn’t wait much longer if I were you.  There’s no way I’d get into the same pen with those fellows without some kind of protection.  They mean business!”

“Would you do it?” Asked Certain Man. “I have a friend who can bring his chute that he uses for hoof trimming and we could contain them.  I’d like to do all three.”

“I’d be delighted to do it!” said his pleasant young female vet.  (He later told me that he just can’t figure out why the females think this is such a fun thing.  “They’re all tickled to death to help out with this,” he said woefully.  “They just don’t have a clue!”)

And so they set the date for a Monday at three in the afternoon.  But that Monday was still almost two weeks away.  I worried about whether we would make it that long without someone getting hurt.  It seemed like things were getting worse and worse.  Our neighbor, Mr. Fox, who cuts our pasture for hay, parked his tractor in the adjourning shed one afternoon and created an episode of pawing holes in the side pasture, great bellowings and clattering of horns that went on until dark.

“You’ve got yourself a crazy animal there,” Mr. Fox told Certain Man.  “All I did was park my tractor in the shed and he stood at the gate and acted like he was gonna’ come through it.  He acted like he was crazy.  And they have big holes dug in that back pasture that I cut for hay.  One was two feet deep.  Something’s wrong with him!”

That was the night that Charis and I were walking out by the garden, checking on the produce and watching Grandpa doing his never ending work in the shed and barn and chicken houses.  We had also been drawn by the racket in the pasture that just wouldn’t stop.

“Grammy, that cow is really grumpy!” Said Charis, a little apprehensively.  “I don’t like how he sounds.”

“I know, Charis,” I said to her, “He really is grumpy!  Grammy doesn’t like it either!  But do you want to know a secret?”

She looked expectantly up into my face. “Yes!”

“In just a few days,” I told her conspiratorily, “Grandpa’s vet is going to come and Billy Bender is coming to help and they are going to cut that cow’s ‘grumpy’ out!  And then he won’t be so grumpy!”

She laughed.  “Really, Grammy???”

“For real, Charis!” I promised.  “That’s exactly what they are going to do!”

She did a little happy dance and then she went home with her Mama and I told Middle Daughter and Youngest Daughter all about my wonderful explanation.  I was rather proud of myself for being able to explain such a delicate situation to a six year old.  I was surprised when Middle Daughter looked at me aghast.

“Mom!” she exclaimed with consternation.  “That was a terrible thing to tell her!’

I was surprised.  “Why is that so terrible?”

“Because that is what her Mama always threatens her with when she is being grumpy!  She teases her and says, ‘You better get happy, or I’m gonna’ cut your grumpy out’ and Charis is probably really confused about this whole thing.”

I decided not to worry about it.  Some things can just be handled by parents who made the situation in the first place.  Except that a few nights later, walking with Charis, I noticed that she was thoughtful.  And then, there came the question.

“Grammy, what is the ‘grumpy’ that they are going to cut out?”

(Gulp!  I don’t consider this my territory of responsibility!)

(Oh, Lord, what do I say???) “Well, Charis,” I began slowly, but was suddenly struck by a stroke of Providential brilliance.  “The boy cows have a gland that makes them act grumpy as they get older.  The vet is going to come and take that gland out and then they won’t be so feisty and mean.”  And that satisfied our curious six year old granddaughter. Let her Mama answer any further questions.

The day finally came without any damage to the humans that traverse the lands at Shady Acres, and the good vet came to find that Certain Man had done his work (as usual) with careful attention to safety and without fault.  The three bulls were shut in their pens with only one way out — and that was into Billy Bender’s sturdy chute.  Once they were securely restrained, Dr. Dayton-Wall gave a little shot of Lidocaine that they hardly felt and before they knew what had happened, they were out the other end of the chute, steers!

They were strangely subdued that first hour or so.  They grazed a bit, but there was no pawing or bellowing.  As the evening wore on, they were more and more languid. Eventually they stopped trying to motor at all.  The biggest fellow — the most maniacal, lay out in the field like he was dead, just giving an occasional melancholy flip to his tail — lifting it up about six inches and sadly dropping it down again.  There was no noise.  At all.  The pasture around Shady Acres’ barn was almost spooky with the change in atmosphere.  But eventually, they realized that they weren’t going to die after all, and began to graze and gingerly walk about.

“Any bellowing or carrying on?” I asked Certain Man two mornings later.  Dr. Dayton-Walls had warned us to be careful for ten days to two weeks.

“It will take them that long to get rid of the ‘boy stuff,'” she said cheerfully.  “Don’t trust them until you know how they are going to be.  Those guys, particularly the big one, could really hurt someone!”

Certain Man grinned.  “Nope!” he said.  “Not a bit.  No pawing, no clanging against the fences and buildings, no digging, no nothing!  These guys are different animals!”

“Do they seem to be okay?” I asked, suddenly wondering if such an alteration could kill them.

“Fine as can be,” he told me.  “They just don’t act like they care about anything.  They are eating and grazing and just as calm as they can be.”

Several days later, I was outside when I heard a noise.  It was a gentle mooing sound that our steers would make when they thought it was time for Certain Man to feed them.  I had never heard this particular sound from these animals.  I stood in the side yard and thought about what a nice sound that occasional, controlled mooing was.  I thought about how nice it was to not worry that someone was going to get hurt on our farm by an angry animal.  I thought about the meat that we should have to share with our family and others when these steers would be full grown.  I thought about how “cutting a grumpy out” can be so pivotal in the atmosphere of a family farm.  And I thought — well, I could draw all sorts of analogies, here, but I think I won’t.

And that is the news from Shady Acres where Certain Man continues to protect and provide for us in so many ways.  Where whatever it was that happened on that Monday afternoon was final — there was no more aggression on the part of any of the newly altered bovine males.

And where Certain Man’s Wife gives very grateful praise for a job well done.

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Filed under Family living, My Life, Stories from the Household of CM & CMW

Certain Man’s Wife Chases the Bull

This is an old story — as indicated by the date in the first sentence.  The reason I am posting it is that — I have another story about the bovine creatures at Shady Acres that I’ve been wanting to tell — and wanted to reference this story.  Alas and alack!  This story, though in my book, is so old, it never appeared in a blog posting.  Many of you have heard it.  Many of you have read it in my book.  But for those who haven’t — here is one of my favorite stories about life at Shady Acres and the neighborhood that we call home.  Sadly, two of the integral people who helped on this infamous day have gone to their reward.  I would just like to say that I deeply miss my dear friend, here referred to as “Good Wife Joan,” as well as our neighbor, Roland Willey, also a dear friend and trusty neighbor.

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Now it came to pass on the very first day of September, in the year of our Lord, 2004, that Certain Man’s wife was complacently enjoying a busy morning of preparing for State Inspection. On impulse, that very morning, she had hired a friend, Alma Miller, to help clean the kitchen cabinets, and CMW was working at cleaning the bedroom that was to be inspected.  It was a beautiful morning.  There was a good breeze, the sky was blue, and all was well.

CMW had other reasons to rejoice.

For several weeks,one of the male bovines that Certain Man kept for meat had been showing signs of aggression, indeed, had charged Certain Man on a number of occasions, with great bellows and kicking up of the dirt. Now this Meany Pest of a bull was only 18 months old.  Certain Man had not had him neutered because he had never had a problem with other bulls when he hadn’t,and he liked it that an un-neutered bull would convert better to meat.  Since he only keeps his meat animals for two years, it had never been a problem. Until now.

This turn of events had been enough disconcerting to Certain Man that he had called the Honorable Allen Beachy and had him come and “band” the two young calves that he was raising for the spring of 2006.  That done, he also called the butcher shop and arranged for the slaughter of Meany Pest.  Immediately.  With the traffic of people and children through the property of Certain Man, he didn’t want to take a risk.  It was too late to tackle the neutering business with Meany Pest.  Unfortunately,slaughter time was a few weeks out, so close watch had been kept until this very morning when Friend, Tommy Eliason had come with his cattle trailer and hauled him off.  CMW drew a great sigh of relief that was matched by her husband.

Now, at the same time that CM had procured Meany Pest, he had gotten another male calf which grew up along side of MP.  What Meany Pest had in aggression, Second Fellow, though also un-neutered,  made up for in friendliness and complacency.   When Tommy Eliason came to pick up MP, Second Fellow wanted to go, too, and tried to stick his head into the truck..  Certain Man and Tommy enjoyed a chuckle at the friendly fellow’s expense.  They had to chase him away.

When Certain Man came in from sending Meany Pest off, he said to CMW, “Now,I locked the other three in the front pasture. Second Fellow is pretty upset, and I don’t want him getting out.”

Certain Man has always maintained fences in proper order, and it is a rare day when any of his animals get out.  He learned the hard way that it is no fun to have creatures running around at night on busy roads.  So he has a high tensile fence that has electric on the inside of it, nearly all the way around his pasture.  He has a four foot high board fence that runs for a short distance between buildings, and he keeps all his fences in good repair.  He has a large back pasture,well fenced, where he allows the animals to run around and graze, but it is behind the chicken houses, and out of deference to CMW, who cannot see back there from the house, he decided to confine them on the smaller, front pasture,where they could get into the barn if they wanted to.

The morning was so pleasant that the windows were open in the house, and all morning, Second Fellow was protesting loudly.  Around eleven o’clock, he sounded louder and nearer, and Youngest Daughter of CM and CMW went to look what was going on.

“Oh, my goodness, MOM, there is a bull out.  A BIG Bull.  Oh, my, it is one of the big ones, Mom!!!”

Certain Man’s Wife went out the back door to the deck, and sure enough, there was Second Fellow, prancing across the yard.  Behold, her heart made a very fast trip to her shoes.  He looked so determined and “bullish.”   She looked around for ammunition, and laid her hands upon a Stanley broom that was conveniently leaning against the deck.  She hollered for Youngest Daughter to call her father, and took out across the yard as fast as her 50 year old body would allow her.  In the past,getting animals back into their pens has been challenging but not impossible,and she had a great deal of optimism as to how quickly she would conquer again.

But something had happened to Second Fellow.  He had caught wind of a heifer in heat who belonged to a neighbor.  He was determined to seek her out.  By this time, Friend Alma had seen the predicament, and had come to join the fray. CMW sent Youngest Daughter out to the cow pen to open the gate.  Youngest Daughter thoughtfully locked the two younger (now) steers in the barn, and opened the large gate wide to the front pasture.  Friend Alma’s young son stood on the deck and yelled.

Second Fellow saw two determined humans coming across the yard, and was suddenly urged to run in the direction of the road.  He lowered his head and charged blindly toward the poorly armed females who were supposed to be directing him in the way that he should go.  Whop! Went the broom, scarcely making contact, but diverting him slightly. Friend Alma and CMW ran to and fro, trying to herd obstinate Second Fellow towards the barn.  Every time they achieved a few yards, down would go the head, and with a bellow, back the bull would charge.  CMW noticed that he was not kicking up any dirt with his bellow, but it did not comfort her heart very much.  It occurred to her that there were many guardian angels standing between the bull and the two inadequately armed females, for time and time again, he would head for them, only to turn aside in the nick of time.  Unfortunately, it was pretty obvious who was winning the battle of the wills despite angelic protection.

After perhaps five or six time of attempting to head him off at the road, kindly neighbor, Eddie,noticed that there was considerable difficulty going on in the yard across the road.  He and neighbor Steve left their task of putting siding on the house and came to help.  One of them had a stick, and CMW had her faithful Stanley broom, but otherwise the crew was unarmed.

Said CMW, “I surely do wish Daniel would get here!”

Said Kindly Neighbor Eddie, “What would he do?  Does he have a secret?”

“Not that I know of,” said CMW heatedly, “but it would be HIS problem!”

About then, Kindly Neighbor Eddie’s wife,Joan, appeared to lend her strong arm, and a shiny  red convertible also stopped.  Friend Bethany had seen the dilemma and decided to help, too.  CMW thought ruefully that RED was not especially the color that she had in mind for the present situation, but there was no doubt that help was needed, so she welcomed the extra body.  By now there were fully seven people in hot pursuit of seemingly demented bull.

They managed to chase Second Fellow up the chicken house lane for a short distance, when he suddenly caught on to the idea that it was not the right direction.  He turned and lowered his horns and headed back out the drive.  Sticks and brooms and bodies had no effect upon him whatsoever, and the posse scattered before him in grave disarray.  He headed out towards the road again, and then turned and trotted along the edge of the fenced woods where he was sure that his intended was hiding.  He bellowed and stopped and sniffed and bellowed and trotted.  Of course, all the traffic on the busy road beside CM’s farm were beginning to take note, and cars were going by slowly while gawking at the motley crew, and some were pulling off to see if there was something they could do.  Chicken trucks and work vans, jalopies and mini vans, town cars and meter readers got all jammed up on the road.  CMW’s face was as red as a turkey gobbler, and not just from exertion.  WHY DIDN’T CERTAIN MAN COME HOME???

Then the owner of the heifer, Neighbor Willey, came forth from his house down the road.  He had probably heard rather than seen the hubbub, guessed what the problem was, and secured offending female far from the site of the battle.  He picked up a sturdy stick and came to help, too.

With his approach, Second Fellow decided to turn around and head back up the fence line towards Shady Acres.  With great difficulty and many yells and whops with the weapons, the Bull was directed towards the back pasture.  CM had been called again, and he informed frantic Youngest Daughter that he was heading for home (in earnest with his state truck and his flashers going). CMW was pretty sure that they would be getting the bull in right before he got there, and that is exactly what happened.  Just before he sped in the lane, Neighbors Eddie and Steve managed to drive him into the back pasture and hook up the electric fence.

Things started to calm down a little then.  CMW was panting and tired, and the neighbors were saying friendly things about how “That’s what neighbors are for…” and CM was going back to bring Second Fellow to the front pasture and secure him there.  CMW was heading out towards the barn when she saw Second Fellow come around the edge of the barn at a gallop.  At this inopportune time, she remembered that she did not know how he had escaped in the first place.  It suddenly occurred to her that the two little ones had been inside the fence the entire time he was out.  It didn’t make sense.  A great feeling of dread came over her as she saw him make a straight bee-line for the four foot wooden fence.  Was there a break in it somewhere?  She watched in disbelief as Second Fellow trotted up to the fence and in one smooth motion was OVER it!  If it hadn’t been so terrible, it would have been beautiful. A perfect Olympic jump.

Believe me, there was some shrieking going on then! Certain Man jumped in his truck and headed out the chicken house lane,trying to head him off.  If it had been his own pick up instead of his work truck, he said that he would have run into the critter, but since he needed to be careful with the state’s property, he was unable to stop him.  Once again, out on the road,traffic stopped, and neighbors running and helping.  CMW was inclined to go inside and pretend that she wasn’t home,but she ran and herded and whopped with her faithful Stanley broom until the entire group had successfully herded him to the entrance to the pasture.

Certain Man had gotten out his blacksnake whip and was making good use of it.  Just before going through the gate, Second Fellow made a mighty dash for freedom.  Certain Man snapped him soundly with the blacksnake whip, but lost his footing and fell into a very green, very stinky body of water that was left over from the latest rain.  His efforts to divert the bull were effective, though, and while he picked himself out of the muck, the neighbors closed in and Second Fellow went back into the pasture.

CMW and Friend Alma and Neighbor Willey, and Neighbor Eddie and his Good Wife Joan, took up positions along the board fence.  Good Wife Joan held the black snake whip, CM held the faithful Stanley broom and the guys stood there and looked MENACING. Youngest Daughter went into barn and called cheerfully to Second Fellow with promises of FEED.  Certain Man gave her instructions from the pasture. Second Fellow was drawn by the cheery voice.  He was tired from so much running.  He ambled over and looked in the door.  He went in a few feet.  She continued to coax and call him from behind the feed bunker.  Certain Man sidled over, out of sight, while she wove her deceptive web.  Finally, Second Fellow was far enough in to shut the metal gate behind him.  Oh,NO!  It was hooked to the wall.  Second Fellow acted like he was going to go out again.  Youngest daughter took advantage of the situation to scramble into the pen and unhook the gate so it could swing free, then went back to her wheedling, cajoling call.  Again, the pull was strong, and Second Fellow turned back towards the feed bunk.

Certain Man, muddy and stinky looked at the great mud hole between him and the gate and did not waver a single moment.  Good work shoes and all, he plowed through the mud that was deeper than his shoes and grabbed the gate.  Second Fellow made one final dash for freedom,but CM hollered mightily.  When Second Fellow paused, CM clanged the gate shut, and this time the offending animal wasfully trapped.  Metal bars and chains and cement would need to be moved for him to escape this time.

“Whew!” said everyone.

“That was fun,” said Good Wife Joan.  “Quite a diversion from a boring afternoon.”

Neighbor Eddie and Neighbor Willey did not say much.  CMW noticed that they were looking positively cheerful, though.

“I’m glad I was here!” said Friend Alma.  “I’ve had lots of experience chasing animals when I was a girl!”

“You aren’t half as glad as I am,” said CMW.  “What would I have ever done without help?”

“That’s what neighbors are for…” said Good Wife Joan, again.

“Well,” said CMW, “I am quite certain of one thing.  There is going to be a steak dinner one of these days and everyone who helped is going to be invited!”

That was well received, and the neighbors went back to their jobs and CMW went back into the house to cool off and rest her weary bones. CM, after making double sure of everything in the barn, came back into the house to change his clothes and shoes and to go back to work.  He would have to call this time at home his lunch hour for the day, and CMW felt sorry for him.  But the bull was in, he was cleaned up, and he could get into his air conditioned truck and leave.  That didn’t sound like too bad a deal to CMW.  She needed to keep on getting ready for the coming inspections.  But first, she needed to write a story.

So, that is the news from Shady Acres, where Certain Man is working on a new electric fence that will compliment a particular board fence, Certain Man’s Wife’s face still feels hot and her knees feel weak, and Youngest Daughter is the only one of the children who was witness to the events of this momentous day.

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Smart Phone Woes

Certain Man and Certain Man’s Wife have been old sticks in the mud when it come to their flip phones.  There never was any reason to change.  The phones had been loyal, dependable and very sturdy friends.  CMW actually washed hers in the washing machine.  One time a whole cycle.  But it was put into the rice remedy and continued to work without complaint.

However, the offspringin’s prevailed upon their parents and offered help and assistance and both Certain Man and his wife became to owners of one of the smart phones– something “6-ish.”  (CMW honestly does not know its proper name.)

Anyhow, said phone has proven to be very helpful in the many messages to siblings and offspringin’s and keeping up with things when CMW was away from home.  And she was especially delighted with the way there were suggestions for words across the top of the screen when she was messaging, because it cut down on the time considerably.  A great invention, indeed.  She came to rely heavily upon the given suggestions.

Too heavily.

With Sweet Mama being so sick, and a history of things being needed, it came to pass that CMW had the cell number of the beloved family Doctor.  On rare occasions, she would employ this for things that were needed at inopportune times, and this morning was one of those times.  She texted a message to Dr. Wilson, and about a half an hour later, her texted back a short, but very welcome, “DONE.”

Now CMW does not take such things for granted, and so she texted back, “Thanks, Dr. Wilson.  YOU DA BEST!!!”

At least that was what she thought she had texted.

The morning wore on, there was laundry to do, other messages to field and then there was the time when she suddenly noticed the text that she had actually sent to the good physician.

“Thanks, Dr. Wild One.  YOU DA BEST!!!”

Oh, dear!!!   Oh, Dear!!!  Oh, Dear!!!

She still thinks the good doctor is one of the best, but “Wild” is not a word that would be appropriate for this particularly steady, southern Delaware family doctor.

CMW is going to just blame it on that smarty-pants phone.

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To think it Happened in Wal-mart.

I had just found a cart that seemed to work okay and was heading into Wal-Mart to do some quick shopping.  I stopped to look at a display right inside the door beside Dunkin’ Donuts when a young man walked up and stood maybe six feet away from me.  He had a buzzed haircut, and was nice looking.

“Excuse me, miss,” he said.  My kids say I never know a stranger, and I smiled at him.  “Would you possibly have change for a twenty?”  He held a folded twenty dollar bill in his hand, “My nephew wants to play the arcade and it won’t take a twenty.  I’d pretty much settle for any kind of change — two tens, four fives or a mix.  I could stand in line, but I would like to not have to wait that long.”

I almost never carry change like that, but I was pretty sure that I had some this time.  Not a bunch, but probably at least a ten and two fives or something.  “I just might,” I said to him, digging for my wallet.  “Let me see.”  I scrounged  around in the depths of the big old purse that I had plunked into the seat of the cart.  I found it, peered inside, and sure enough, there were two tens.

“I do have it,!” I said triumphantly.  I handed him the two tens and he gave me the folded money.  And bee-lined it out the door.  H-m-m-m-m.  The arcade was in the other direction.  Oh, well, Maybe it wasn’t the Wal-mart Arcade.  I started to stuff the twenty into my wallet when I suddenly noticed that it felt strange. I unfolded the bill and saw that it was laminated on one side.  It looked mostly okay, but that lamination really bothered me.  The bill was extremely raggedy under the lamination.  I was immediately suspicious, but the young man was long gone.

I pushed my cart through the store having imaginary arguments and conversations with the young man.  Things I could have said or things I could have done.  I pretty much covered the gamut and still came up with the conclusion that  I had probably just been stiffed out of twenty bucks.  I thought momentarily about trying to use it to pay part of my bill at the checkout, but decided that it might be better to just take it into a bank.  I didn’t want to get arrested to for trying to pass a counterfeit bill.   I brought it home and showed it to whomever would look at it.  Almost no one was willing to state unequivocally one way or another  Then I showed it to my friend who works in the money center at Wal-mart, and told her my story.  Emma is a sharp cookie.  She would NEVER be stuck like that.  She held it in her hand, felt it, held it up to the light and finally said, “I’m sure it’s a fake, Mary Ann.  It doesn’t have a water mark.  And it doesn’t feel right, though it might be the tape they have on it.”

I decided that the next time I went to the bank, I would see what they had to say.

So today, on my way home from Sweet Mama’s house, I took my twenty dollar bill into the bank and told my story.

“It looks fine to me,” said the young teller.  “Someone probably just taped it because it is so ratty.”  She felt it, looked at it, and then called the other teller over.  “What do you think?” She asked the other gal,  “Is this real or is it fake?”

“It looks fine to me,too,” said the other teller, “but let me take it back to see what they say back there.  I’m pretty sure it is okay.  And if it is, we will trade you out a good one for this one and take this one out of circulation.”

For just a little bit, I felt relieved.  My faith in human nature was starting to revive.  I took care of some other business while I waited for the second teller to return.  Just as we were finishing up, she came back out, holding the twenty and looking apologetic.

“I’m so sorry,” she said.  “It isn’t legit.  And I’m also so sorry, but we can’t give it back to you.  When a counterfeit bill comes through, we are required by law to confiscate it and send it to the authorities.”  She showed me the back of the bill, then and two long brown marks crossed over the back of it.  “If it was good,” she said, “these marks would have instantly turned yellow, but they didn’t change at all.  I’m so sorry!”

“That’s fine,” I said, glad that I was given some time to suspect the truth.  “I was pretty sure that it wasn’t any good.  But I’m also pretty sure that I’ve given money to just as worthless a cause in other situations, and this will be okay.  It makes me sad, because of the deception and the dishonesty, but it is the way it is, and it will be okay.”

The teller murmured something about, “Never knowing, maybe it is being paid forward,” but I wasn’t sure how it applied in this situation.  I gathered my things and came on home.

I’ve been doing some thinking about that money the rest of this day.  Wondering what it was used for.  Sometimes wishing I knew — but usually glad I don’t.  And I don’t know,  Maybe it got used for something good and wholesome eventually.  I don’t know.  But I can hope.

But I also am choosing to  just let it go.  There were numerous places along the way where God could have raised a warning flag in my heart, or stopped me somehow, and He didn’t.  (Or, at least I didn’t hear Him– which, sadly might be more likely.)  So even though I am tempted to think of the good that I could have done with that twenty dollars, I am choosing not to even go there.  For one thing, I probably wouldn’t have specified it for “good.”  I’ve been known to use twenty dollars rather quickly in A.C. Moore or Barnes & Noble or Hobby Lobby or Michael’s.  And it is rather exciting to think about just where that money might be going and how God is going to use it.  Because I did pray for that young man and dedicated both him and the money to God  in those first minutes after the money was out of my hand, and I believe that God can use even desperate people and ill-gotten, misdirected money for His Glory. And I may as well trust Him.  I can’t really think of anything better to do.

And so,my heart will glory in a God who sees, who cares, and who tells us “not to trust in uncertain riches but gives us richly all things to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17)  This is more than enough for me.

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Unexpected in the Miele

One of the things I do daily in this household of five (and sometimes six) is unload the dishwasher.  It is just one of those things that needs to be done, and I often combine a phone chat while I’m doing it to distract me from the mundane.  So, the other day I was on the phone with someone (if it was YOU would you please remind this fur brain) and I had finished the first rack and was on the middle rack (my Miele model has three levels) that holds mostly cups and drinking glasses and measuring cups and then lids stuffed in among the drinking utensils (so that they can stay upright and are not as apt to collect water).  Between the water and juice and coffee and tea, this rack is always the first to fill up.

Things were moving cheerfully along and I was in fine spirits until I reached for something to put away and I saw the strangest thing.  There was this thing!  A greyish lumpy thing, hung up over one of the grids of the dishwasher rack.  It looked like a small, melted mouse, all hung up and drowned, hung up on a wire.  Its long, skinny tail hung down dejectedly.

I felt sick.  I gingerly pinched its back where it was doubled over the vinyl covered strand and pulled it off, trying not to gag. It was very soft and squishy.  What about that load of dishes, now mostly put away?  How had a mouse gotten into my dishwasher?  I felt like not looking at it, but this thing begged my attention.

Oh.

It wasn’t a mouse.  It was a large tea bag.  The string trailed its deceptive ruse of a tail, as the grey-brown bag hung from my pinched fingers.

Really???

Oh, well.  That’s actually a better scenario.  I put the offending tea bag in the trash and went back to my job.  Nothing like the unexpected to break up the monotony of an ordinary job.

In other news, the first big bouquet of lilacs is on the table, making the house smell wonderful.  How I am enjoying these glorious days of spring!

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