Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Oh My! Babies!

A couple of posts ago I welcomed Willie and Raul to our happy spot in the country.  Willie came by for a visit.  When he heard of Doug's impending return, he moved as advised.  Raul, however, had other ideas.

I had just crawled out of bed when Doug, the early riser, yelled to me.  "Come quick!  You've got to see this."  It was first thing in the morning.  I didn't think I needed to see anything but my cup of tea.

Outside the dining room window was Rafaela, aka Raul, inching down a large oak tree.  Her mouth held precious cargo-a baby raccoon.  Raul was a she.  A she with babies!

Rafaela toted the baby across the driveway and under my potting shed.  Then she popped out and scaled the oak tree again.  She shimmed into a hole where we lost a branch last summer.  Doug and I waited breathlessly to see if there was another baby.  Sure enough Rafaela snagged another and began her long journey down the tree.

She didn't back down like I would have if I had my mouth full of squirming fur.  Head first was her choice.  About 100 feet from the ground Rafaela lost her footing and tumbled to the hard ground below.

I knew, just knew, she was dead.  Doug was going to have to crawl under the potting shed to retrieve the first baby.  We were going to become raccoon mommy and daddy.  Once again we would be up at all hours of the night giving our twins bottles and changing diapers.  Well, cleaning up poop at any rate.

But Rafaela shook off the fall and picked up stunned baby.  She deposited baby number two under the shed and returned to the hole. 

"Here she comes with baby number three!"  Doug exclaimed practically jumping up and down.

Behind her was an awful racket.  Baby number four had crawled out of the hole with no supervision and started up a long thin branch.  He was screeching up a storm.  I suppose I would too if I was the last child left in a hollow tree that is probably infested with bugs.

Rafaela gave baby number four a look.  You know the looks all mothers give when they are ready to clang their child over the head.  She meticulously carried baby number three (which I'm sure had a sopping wet neck by now) back to the hole.  Rafaela emerged baby-less and began the steep trek up to where the naughty child stood squawking.  Baby number four was snatched from his particularly small branch.  I don't think Rafaela was too pleased with her baby.  She did not carry him by his scruff back to the hole.  He latched onto his neck rather tightly and tossed him into the dark buggy tree home.

Mother disappeared behind the mischievous child.  Several minutes later she climbed out with her mouth full of baby.  I wonder what she was doing for those long minutes in the hole.  Do mommy raccoons spank their babies?  I have no doubt baby got a scolding at the least.

Four times Rafaela carried her cute as a button babies down the tree.  They were now safely housed under the potting shed.  Doug and I wondered what their next adventure would be.  Our game camera was promptly staged in front of the potting shed.  We would become raccoon spies.

We were surprised spies!  Rafaela must have been up and about earlier than Doug on baby moving day.  The game camera showed five babies tagging after Rafaela in the dead of the night.  They were prancing after their mother like my preschool children on a line rope.

A few weeks have gone by since under the potting shed became "Home Sweet Home" to Rafaela and her clan.  Sadly they have moved onto larger spaces away from our homestead.  But we now have a new little black kitty outside.  There always seems to be some wildlife to watch and ponder about on our sweet spot in the Iowa countryside.

Speaking of babies.  As only a future Mother-in-Law can hope for.  Congratulations to our daughter, Nicole, and her new fiance, Jon.  Jon welcome to the family!  You do realize we come with the package.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Spin the Bottle

I had adamantly declared I was not going to go anywhere the summer of 2015.  I was staying home to pull weeds and pet cats.  Doug whined and did some arm twisting.  I found myself riding shot gun with him on a  four day tour of Iowa.  He called it the "Spin the Bottle Trip."

Armed with an Iowa map, Iowa Travel Guide, a directory of Iowa's Best Ma & Pa Restaurants, two bottles of water, and pictures of the cats (in case I forgot what they looked like) we pulled onto the gravel road.  Our intentions were to steer clear of interstates.  We were looking for two lane roads with interesting sights.

We traveled north through Ida Grove.  The architecture there was not the typical Iowa made in the late 1800's, but a surprising medieval flare.  There were castles and moats.  Shopping centers were designed with turrets.  I huddled in my seat expecting an armored knight to appear with his lance thrusting in my direction.  Luckily Ida Grove was a quick drive through.

Our first stop was in LeMars, the Ice Cream Capital of the World.  We were traveling with no children so ice cream for lunch was on the menu.  It was 2:00 and our stomachs were protesting loudly as we hurried into the Well's Blue Bunny ice cream shop.  We bellied up to the bar as a fresh faced teenager produced menus for us.  A three page menu.  So many ice cream choices-sundaes, cones, shakes, parfaits...   Doug opted for a strawberry shake.  We watched as real strawberries were scooped into the silver glass.  Always watching my figure I opted for a single scoop Bunny Tracks cone.  It arrived sitting daintily in crystal glass.  There was nothing dainty about the scoop.  It was a full meal.  We couldn't pass up the bunny shaped sugar cookie either.  Yum!

LeMars has 55 statues of ice cream cones over 5 feet tall.  We meandered around town searching for some.  Each was different and had noteworthy sayings pertaining to the building they were representing.

The two lane road next took us to Okoboji-Iowa's Great Lakes.  Being a virgin canoeist we thought this would be a beautiful place to break me in.  I cinched every notch in my life vest to the fullest, "I'll never breathe again," while explaining to Doug what will happen to him if I get dumped out of the canoe.

It was a peaceful paddle.  Trees soared over the water providing cool from the sun.  Boats of all sizes were docked at the water's edge.  Many had excited children jumping into the water.  Their carefree chatter carried around the lake.  Mother and Father ducks and geese paraded their babies by the tall reed grass.

The next morning the bottle pointed us in the direction of Clear Lake.  We hiked to pay our respects to Buddy Holiday at the memorial in the middle of a soy bean field.  In the town of Clear Lake we visited the Surf Ball Room, the last gig for Buddy Holiday.  Inside is a small museum for Buddy Holiday and all the entertainers that played there over the seventy years.  It was easy to imagine couples dancing and laughing on that cold February night of the plane crash.

Once again our stomachs were rumbling.  We dug out our Favorite Ma & Pa Iowa Restaurants book and headed to Starboard Market.  I think this was a mistake.  There were too many mouthwatering choices for sandwiches and salads.  Then I turned around and saw the spread of bars and cookies!  Doug would not let me have dessert only for lunch two days in a row.  Party Pooper!  We took our over-stuffed sandwiches, salads and bars (I was holding those just in case Doug had any ideas about being too full.) to the nearby park on the lake.  It was a cloudless day with colorful sail boats drifting by on the glassy water.

We pointed the truck towards the Mississippi river.  That's when I saw it!  I knew all good things came from Iowa and this confirmed it.  Reindeer!  A whole herd of them standing up to gawk at us as we creeped by with our cameras.  Behind the pens was a red house.  I knew, just knew, Santa came from Iowa!  I'm not sure how to explain the John Deere mail box.

We spent the night at a homey Bed and Breakfast nestled in the valley of the Mississippi.  We had a hearty Midwest breakfast with a couple touring Iowa from North Carolina.  They had also had ice cream for lunch in LeMars the day before.  We headed up to Pike's Peak to hike and check out the view.  And what a view!  Majestic trees stretched for the sky while the mighty Mississippi curled around them.  We could see Wisconsin and beyond.

Once again my stomach was talking to me.  We made our way to Dubuque.  My Louisiana friend, Esther, said we had to ride the cable car elevator.  It is the world's shortest, steepest scenic elevator. At the street below are many cute shops and eateries.  A word of warning if you ride the elevator-Do not move while the car is in motion!  This will stop the elevator in mid-transit and award you a scolding from the operator above.

Our stomachs were once again satisfied.  We looked for an outlet to work off lunch.  We stumbled across a State Park in Maquoketa.  The park boasted hiking trails and caves.  I told Doug, "I don't need to go traipsing through any caves.  Caves have bats and I can see those in our attic."  He assured me it would be more exciting than that.

And it was!

The day was sunny and warm.  The hiking trails were shady and cool.  We ambled down steps to the largest cave appropriately named Dance Hall Cave.  The cave was a refreshing 53 degrees.  Water trickled down the limestone formations and pooled around our feet.  There were no bats and no one was dancing in the cave but me.  The park held many different caves each with a marker signaling if it was a walk through cave or an explore on your knees cave.  The Rainy Day cave was marked with an explore on your knees cave, but was actually a walk-in cave.  I coaxed Doug in behind him.  He is however, about a foot taller than me.  That particular cave was more of a head banger for Doug.

A spin of the bottle landed us next in Iowa City.  We toured the Herbert Hoover Library and homestead.  While strolling the grounds we encountered the North Carolina couple from the Bed and Breakfast in McGregor.  Great minds must think alike.

We had another hearty lunch from our Ma & Pa restaurant guide and headed for home.  A quick scan of the map showed the Amana Colonies close enough to drive through.  I convinced Doug we should make a quick stop for dessert.   

While enjoying a scrumptious pastry the hair on the back of my neck stood on end.  The couple we met at the Bed and Breakfast from North Carolina appeared.  Were they stalking us?  Were they planning to find out where we live and kidnap the cats? 

Luckily that was not the case.  They were out enjoying the great state of Iowa just like we were.  There are many more interesting things to see and do in the state.  I'm sure Doug and I will take another "Spin the Bottle Trip."  Maybe next time he will let me bring the cats.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Welcome Willie & Raul!

I have not always been a fan of spring.  Growing up in the south the flowers were perpetually in bloom, the grass was green on both sides of the fence, and leaves covered the trees all year.  I always thought spring was colder than it needed to be.  Living in Iowa for the past three years, I have come to realize the beauty of spring.

Winter departs slowly in Iowa.  This morning I awoke to a temperature of 28 degrees. While this may sound like huddle back under the covers and stay in bed weather, it's not. After months of zero and subzero temperatures, 28 with the sun radiating through the windows is quite pleasant.  This afternoon the mercury will rise to a balmy 55 degrees.  I can head out and mow the sprouting grass.

While I tootle around on the lawn mower, I can appreciate the beauty of the perennials poking through the winter brown dirt gracing it with color.  Green leaves are everywhere. Peonies are popping through with purple stems standing tall and proud.  Tulips are exploding with vibrant yellows, pinks, and red.  God, our painter, is using colors again!

Spring also brings visitors.  Peeking out from under one of our small sheds I spied a black nose. Shortly a brown furry body followed it.  Willie, the groundhog had awakened and stopped by for a visit.  He practiced his yoga, standing tall and stretching down.  The sun warmed him as he stretched out basking in its warmth.  Evening approached and I had to be the bearer of bad news to Willie.

"Willie," I hollered into his hole under the shed.  "You can't visit too much longer.  Doug will come home.  He says you are a menace.  He is going to find you someplace else to live. If you want to choose your own summer home you need to skedaddle."

I haven't seen Willie since.

There was a furry mass in our hundred plus maple tree.  Creeping outside, I wondered if bears had started to inhabit Iowa.  It was then I spied the black mask on the creature.  It was Raul, the raccoon. Raul caught sight of me and meticulously crawled his way up a branch.  He eventually nestled into a hole in the branch.  (A hollow branch strategically waiting a time when Doug is abroad to crash to the ground, leaving me to figure out how to clean it up.)   Raul peeked out at me.  He was too cute!

I explained to Raul that Doug said he could stay as long as he didn't get into any of our outbuildings.

Later, I peered into our hen house and saw signs of Raul visiting.  While there are actually no hens in the hen house, it is home to numerous boards and junk.  It appeared Raul had been in there flinging boards and making a general mess of it.

Raul has moved to another hollow tree between two other sheds.  (This tree is also biding time for Doug to leave and crash to the ground.)  I supposed he thought he could divert my attention from the untidy hen house if he lived away from it.

Really Raul?  Doug will notice within being home eight minutes that something is amiss.

Spring also brings babies.  They are the cutest babies ever!  Every spring one appears from under my potting shed.  He hippety-hops around munching on grass and tulips. Subconsciously I planted a few tulips close to the potting shed so the baby could have dessert. Baby bunny enjoys sunning himself in the cool grass by the shed.

Unfortunately I am not the only one enjoying watching baby bunny.  Snuggles has discovered baby bunny relaxing in the grass.  I warned her to stay away from "my" baby bunny.

Then tragedy hit.  I discovered Snuggles in the driveway with baby bunny's ear in her mouth!

I dashed outside in my stocking feet scolding Snuggles at the top of my lungs.  "Put baby bunny down.  Now!"

Baby bunny was doing the twist trying desperately to remove his ear from Snuggles teeth. I nabbed Snuggles by her scruff setting baby bunny free.  He was so disoriented he hopped in circles before darting across the yard and flying under the potting shed to safety.

Snuggles is now in spring time out in the garage.  She can have recess again when baby bunny is mature.

That's spring in Iowa.  I am going to head outside and take in the sights and smells of the season. Birds singing in harmony.  Crisp air scented with lilac.  Apple trees with thousands of pink buds swaying in the breeze.  Along the way I may see a critter or two.  I might have to take a few hundred more pictures of baby bunny.  And I will remember to wave at Snuggles as she gives me the evil eye from her perch in the garage window!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Man vs. Ass

My cousin, Pat, asked if I wanted to go see Donkey Basketball.  Donkey Basketball?  I had played a basketball game of "Horse" with my kids in which I usually got the pants beat off me.  I figured this was something of the same.

Our family filed into the high school gymnasium.  There were twelve of us.  The ages ranged from my 97 year old uncle down to my 5 year old fourth cousin.  Pat promised this would be hilarity for all ages.  I was skeptical.  While "Horse" was fun to play with my children, watching it may have been a little sleep inducing.

We sat on the bleachers watching the players warm up for the game.  They weren't doing the usual sink the basketball in the hoop warm up.  They were laughing, slapping each other on the back and pulling helmets on their heads.  Helmets?

Suddenly the side door popped open and in sauntered eight long eared, furry, real live donkeys.  My face was a mask of confusion.  Pat explained the teams had to ride the donkeys.

That explained the helmets.

The teams were announced.  It was the high school "Jocks" verses the "Firefighters".  The donkeys were introduced as well.  They had enlightening names such as Ex-lax and Hemorrhoid.  A city council woman was presented.  She was the clean-up crew.  Her weapons were a large shovel with a roll of toilet paper on the handle and a broom.  Bet she didn't see this coming when she was elected.

Rules were explained.  You must be on your donkey to pass the ball and to shoot.  You must be in contact with your donkey at all times.  Meaning you could get off and pull the donkey to pick up the ball.  Do not go behind your donkey.  He will kick.  It sounded easy enough.

A basketball roughly half the size of a regulation one was bounced to the ceiling signaling the beginning of the game.  Players perched atop their donkeys scrambled for the ball. Donkeys are not in a hurry, if they move at all.  A couple of jocks jumped off their donkeys attempting to pull their donkeys to the elusive ball.  Even the bulging muscles of the jocks couldn't inch the donkey forward. In fact Hemorrhoid was already tired of having a muscle bound male astride him.  Hemorrhoid put his head down and dumped the rider on the floor.

The game continued with some riders successfully coaxing their donkeys to the ball and making some passes to teammates.  However other donkeys were stubborn as, well, asses.  No amount of gentle kicking to their side or flapping of the reins would convince them to uproot themselves and go down the court.  The referee (the donkeys' owner) carried a thin stick which he would swat on the backside of the donkey.  The stubborn donkey would charge off down the court not bothering to stop where the rider demanded.

One firefighter was not a basketball player in his former life.  His passing was way off the mark.  He actually hit an unsuspecting donkey in the face.  This resulted in a technical foul that stopped the game.  The offending firefighter had to dismount from his donkey and apologize to the hurt donkey. As the game continued the same firefighter passed another ball into the face of an innocent donkey. Another apology was demanded as well as an apology kiss to the donkey's nose.

The laughs continued with riders struggling for minutes at a time to convince their donkeys to pick up their hooves and move.  While other riders spent the majority of their game dumped on the floor. One unfortunate rider was tossed to the floor losing his grip on the reins.  The donkey took off at break neck speed right out the door leading to freedom and fresh air.  The helmeted rider dashed after the donkey as well as two bystanders.  Eight minutes later the donkey was back in the game with the firefighter astride him.  I wondered if they were chasing the donkey the entire time or did both take an unseen rest?

What about the city council woman on poop detail?  Her shovel and broom were kept in constant use. Afternoon games are typically full of "waste."  She came out with a smile and shoveled.  At least the first few times.  By the end of the game I'm pretty sure she was gritting her teeth and keeping a clothes pin on her nose.

The final score of game was Jocks 12-Firefighters 8.  It is difficult to have a high scoring basketball game with a portion of the players flung to the floor every few minutes.  The players ended the game with smiles on their faces and I'm certain bruises on their bodies. We spectators had other problems. Our sides hurt from laughing too much.  I'm told that's exercise.  My kind of exercise.

If the opportunity presents itself to watch a Donkey basketball game, I would highly recommend it. If you ever have the chance to play in one, let me know.  I'll be sure to come get my exercise watching you.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I Know a Secret!

One more winter story because I know a secret and I'm about to blab!

While Doug was away it snowed.  A lot.  The wind had made maddening drifts preventing me from plowing my way out.  Doug arrived home with the snow drifts still intact.  It was this Florida boy's mission to teach me proper use of the snow plow.

I trudged behind Doug on the way to the shed more than a little put out that this southern boy thought he could teach this Texas girl the proper way to plow snow.  After all he hasn't been home for any measurable amounts of white glitter.  I had plowed my way to the road before.  This time our little Polaris just didn't have enough ump.

I had made the mistake of telling Doug I got the Polaris stuck while attempting to gain freedom.  I figured snow was like sand.  Growing up in south Texas I had been stuck in the sand many a sweltering afternoon.  Keep the wheel straight, go forward, back up, forward, back, keep the dumb wheel straight and eventually you are free.  (To be honest, years ago at the beach I would never attempt to unstick my Camaro myself.  I would hop out in my bikini and wait for muscular jocks to come by and push me out.  However, thirty years later if there were any males to drive by I have no doubt me in a bikini would cause a screaming, please poke my eyes out accident.  And it was 7 degrees outside.)

Doug's first lesson was twisting the blade.  "Yes, I do that," I snapped.  My nose was getting further out of joint by the second.

Climbing in the Polaris Doug continued to instruct me.  In his best teacher voice Doug grasped the gear shift explaining the reverse, neutral, high forward, and low forward.  I was sitting beside him humming "We're not going to take it Anymore" in my head.

Then it hit me.  He said low forward.  What is that?  He was already on to tires and traction.  I didn't dare ask.  I was supposed to be a rapt pupil.

We were now barreling our way out of the shed headed for the cement hip high snow drifts in front of his "man shed."  Doug plunged ahead only to be brick walled by the massive drift.  He threw the Polaris into reverse, and then shifted into low forward.  (Yes, this time I was paying attention.)  His foot stomped on the gas and we fish tailed our way through the impassable drift narrowing missing a lone standing pine tree.

"Stop!" I screamed.  I snatched the seat belt from its resting place behind me and clicked it securely around my body.

Rolling his eyes, Doug once again pounced on the accelerator of the Polaris.  We swerved side to side, tossing snow every which way.  The sea-sickening madness continued through the snow bank to inches from a small shed.

"Stop" I screamed again.

"What now?"  Doug groaned.

"Where is my bicycle helmet?  I think if I ride with you any more I may need it!"

Needless to say, I got out and Doug continued his lesson without his pupil.

Now on to the secret.

Later that day Doug decided to pull the trailer out to take his baby (the lawnmower, of course) to the lawnmower doctor to have it primed for spring.  I glanced out the window and saw the Polaris several feet in front of the shed door.  Doug was pulling around with the pick-up.  "Not unusual," I think. Until Doug comes in for the evening.

As he is peeling off his outdoor gear, he makes the comment he was awfully glad I was not out with him to help.  This is strange; he usually wants me to help with all sorts of cold jobs.

He begins to explain.  He, the Florida boy known for instructing in snow removal, had gotten the Polaris stuck in one of the impassible snow drifts.  Doug then preceded to sneak in the garage, back the pick-up out, and pull the Polaris out of the drift without me ever taking a picture.  He was sure if I had a picture it would end up a story in my blog.

Newsflash for my loving husband.  I do not need a picture to blog about it!

I suppose the moral of this story is:  No person hailing from the south really appreciates the power of snow until they have succumbed to its life stopping ability.

Know anyone with a tractor for sale?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Has Sprung

Yesterday was March 20th, the official start of spring according to the calendar.  Without checking the calendar there are ways to know spring is in the air in western Iowa.

My first clue was two weeks ago as I was gazing at the bunnies hopping across the yard. A movement in the trees caught my attention. A bird was perched on a branch with its wings blow drying in the wind.  This was not just any bird.  It was a chubby red-breasted robin.  The first sign of spring!

Another sign of spring is the itchy hand syndrome.  Around the middle of March my palms become frigidity and itchy.  They long to be outside raking dried leaves and thousands of corn husks.  My fingernails start to beg for dirt to be packed deep into their depths.  My gardening gloves develop legs and position themselves on the outside step so I can trip on them.  I slip them onto my winter white hands assuring them it won't be long until we are digging in the earth again.

I was excited to see my tulips popping up yesterday.  How they knew it was March 20th is beyond me.  Pointy green leaves pierce the brown winter dirt giving it much needed color. I am eagerly awaiting all the tulips awakening.  Then I will probably say to myself, "Why did I plant tulip bulbs there?"

Living in the country a sure sign of spring are the farmers coming out of hibernation. Tractors start to rumble down the road lugging large clean implements behind them.  Pick-up trucks are spied in the middle of fields.  Farmers walk their land looking for...?  I really don't know what they search for. Maybe it's the itchy farmer syndrome.

This is a great time of year for a drive around the county.  Babies have arrived!  With the windows cranked down the soft bleat of baby lambs carry in the wind.  Fields are sprinkled with black baby calves kicking up their rear legs and playing games of tag.  I have yet to see a brown calf.  Or a spotted calf.  Or a white calf.  Not even a calf in Easter colors. Always black.

Every animal is thinking babies.  A friend whispered to me she has two stray female cats that she has been feeding on her back deck.  These homeless cats are about to have kittens.  Doug will be going back to work soon.  I wonder if I dare?

The most sure sign of spring at my house depends on our cat Snuggles.  Yesterday she played in the cool spring air.  She tore up a tree, cried  like she didn't know how to come down, then darted to the ground.  She smelled under out buildings and pine trees.  The spring wind blew her tail into a long puff ball.  But when she emerged from the ditch with a long garter snake dangling from her mouth, there was no doubt in my mind spring had made its arrival.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Five Amazing Aspects About My Gravel Road

Yes, there are numerous things to love about my gravel road.  Here are my top five.

  1. Wal Mart.  Wal Mart is 25 miles away.  25 miles!  Our last residence in San Diego was directly across the street from Wal Mart.  They receive deliveries at 4:30. A.M.! My eyes would be pried open by the beep beeping of trucks backing into loading bays.  Cars squealed in and out of the parking lot at all hours of the night. While it was convenient to walk across the street to shop, it also lead to boredom shopping. Twenty five miles away is actually an ideal distance for a Wal Mart.
  2. Seasons.  We are in the midst of winter.  Snow has been glittering on the ground. The temps have been below freezing which means I can don my thick sweaters and be cozy and warm. This morning there is a sheet of ice covering our cement driveway.  I didn't realize I would have an ice rink outside my own door!  Now I need to invest in ice skates.  Soon I will be tired of winter and spring will abound with green popping up in unexpected places.  Yes, unexpected because I can not remember where I planted the 47 tulip bulbs last fall.  On the heels of spring summer will arrive with corn standing tall and proud.  Windows will be thrown open to listen to the songs of doves, robins, blue jays, cardinals, and many more joining the chorus.  As I tire of summer, fall will sneak it's way in.  Canning and freezing from the garden will fill shelves and freezers.  Apples will be ripe and juicy for plucking off the trees.  Tractors will rumble past bringing the powdery smell of fresh combined corn.  There is always something new to be found with each season.
  3. Livestock.  I can be outside on any given day and hear the crow of a far away rooster.  Cows dot the horizon giving life to harvested ground.  Cattle move in to be my neighbors for a few months during the fall and winter.  They stand as one and listen to everything I need to tell them.  Occasionally one or two will hop the fence for a more neighborly visit.  Cows are considerate too.  While roaming my side of the fence they always seem to stop and fertilize the garden.   
  4. Community.  Wow!  Enough can not be said for the tight knit "how can I help you" people that live here.  Yes, there are eyes and ears on every electrical pole, but they are helpful caring eyes and ears.  People visit the shut ins, combine fields for ailing farmers, clear driveways for ignorant southern girls.  The community comes together to donate life saving blood.  (Don't forget the Irwin blood drive.  Monday, March 9th 11:00-5:00!)  I hope I am learning to contribute to this wonderful caring group of residents.
  5. Snow.  I love snow.  Really!  Snow transforms the brown winter ground into a peaceful glittery oasis.  I don't mind shoveling snow.  Really!  It's exercise in the fresh air with birds keeping me company on the bird feeders.  I have only one complaint about snow and it's a personal problem.  I have no aim in throwing snow balls.  If anyone would like to volunteer to come stand around my place while I take target practice on them, I'll pay you in hot chocolate and a warm cookie.
I can see where my readers might be confused.  My last blog post was about the things I did not like about living on a gravel road.  The five examples were the same as the things I love about living here. These are the things I hear most from people who do not know the good life we have here.  "Doesn't it smell?"  "It's got to be too cold to get out of bed."  "Doesn't everyone know your business?"  Life is all about perception.  There can be good and bad in almost everything.  My parents once brought a Texas couple to visit their Iowa farmer friend.  The Texas couple stood in the farmer's back yard amazed at how beautiful it was.  The farmer said to himself, "All I could see was work!" 

Come visit my gravel road.  Doug and I will be happy to show you the beauty.  We'll take you to the Country Store for a cup of coffee.  You'll be welcomed by any number of neighborly people having their coffee and sharing life's stories.  There's always something to do to occupy our time.  Or we can just sit on the porch swing and wave at the trucks and tractors rumbling down the road.

I do have just one question burning in my mind.  Do cats count as livestock?