Friday, September 30, 2011

Slow Cookin'

Well, I bought a crock-pot today.  I've been seeing slow-cooker recipes lately and figured I would give it a go.  I have a little time in the morning to get things done before I leave for work at 9:40 am and a little more energy than when I get home in the evening around 6:15 pm.  By the time I let the dogs out and feed them and then scrounge around in the cupboard and stare blankly into the fridge, trying to decide what I want to make, it is usually almost 7 pm before I start dinner.  And I get hungry for dinner (or supper, like they say out here) around 4:30 pm.  As I write this I am ravenously licking the creams out of oreo cookies at my desk at the library.  So how amazing will it be to throw some things into the slow-cooker in the morning before work and then come home and have dinner all ready for me?  I'm hoping it's going to be magically stress-reducing and delicious.  Or I'll catch my house on fire. Can that happen?  The slow-cooker book I got at the library said it wouldn't, but I have an old house and the electrical wiring is a little wonky...I'll let you know either way.

P.S. I got my best-ever bowling score last night: 111!  (Still lame compared to all the people on the other teams...but exciting for me!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Last night, this morning

All the girls follow Joey...he's holding some arrows he was practicing his shot with-makes him look like a marching band leader!

Evening chores, watering the sheep

Sun setting over our cornfield

Jip snuggling with his papa in the kitchen

Joey is holding Jip's tooth in his hand- poor puppy is falling apart!

Foggy morning

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rain, rain, go away, I have clothes to dry...

The dryer is still out of dad and I took it apart and found out it needs a new dryer belt.  I finally got around to ordering one today and hopefully it will come soon.  And hopefully, with the aid of YouTube, I can figure out how to put it on the drum inside the dryer.  I have a mountain of clothes that need to be washed but it has been raining here so I can't dry them outside.  I bought a small wooden clothes rack for inside but it seems to take forever to dry inside.  Last time, I finished drying the clothes outside when it finally cleared up.  Maybe now that we have the heat on I could hang the clothes over the heating vents.  I don't have enough room on the clothes rack so I have to get creative and drape clothes over chairs, ladders, and step stools.  My dining room looks pretty strange draped with soggy clothes.  I feel like someone from the turn of the century, waiting on weather to do my laundry.  I have wireless internet in my house, I can type a blog in my pajamas, and yet I can't figure out how to dry clothes.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Driving fast down country roads

My muscles feel tightly bound and rubbery, my hands are still shaking. This morning, I let the dogs in from outside and gave them each a little treat of a handful of cereal.  And then I turned around and noticed bloody paw prints on the kitchen linoleum.  Sometimes Daisy gets a little cut on one of her toes and bleeds a little, but this was different, this was a lot of blood.  And it was coming from Jip.  I found the paw he was bleeding from and held a paper towel to it, seconds later, it was soaked through with bright red blood.

In less than two minutes, I called the vet, told them we were on our way, grabbed Jip and put him in his crate in the car.  When I picked him up, his teeth were chattering, which made me worry about how much blood he was losing.  I have never gotten down to the town where the vet is located so fast.  It is usually a 20 minute drive on back-country roads going about 55 mph.  Let's just say I drove a little faster than that.  I was terrified he was going to pass out in the back seat.  I called his name every time he laid his head down and made him look up at me.  I couldn't see inside his crate, I couldn't tell if he was still bleeding or not.  I could tell, however that he was cleaning and licking his paw. I carried him into the vet, and the vet said that he had pretty much stopped bleeding.  He had sliced one of his foot pads open and the vet explained that usually stitches rip the foot pad up more than actually heal it, so he glued the cut and wrapped it in gauze and bandages.  They gave me an antibiotic and a painkiller for him to take.

When I knew he was going to be o.k., my surge of adrenaline ceased and left me shaky.  I brought him home and put him in his crate, hoping he wouldn't chew his bandage off.  I mopped the floor with bleach and dishwashing soap and gave him his medicine.  I had to call one of my part-time librarians to ask if she could open the library for me.  I left Jip in his crate since the floor was still wet and I wanted him to rest.  I finally made it to work a little after 11. I closed for lunch at noon and raced home (I only have a 1/2 hour break and it takes 10 minutes to get home) to check on Jip.  He was fine, laying in his crate, and hadn't chewed his bandaged foot.  He had kept his medicine down.  I let him out of the crate so he could get to his water bowl, grabbed a sandwich and ate in the car back to work.

Quite an exhilarating morning.  I've only had Jip for 3 months but he is so much a part of our little family and despite his frequent mischief, I love him dearly.  When he was injured, my stomach dropped and I felt jittery with fear for his well-being.  I went straight into action, grabbing my purse and Jip and rushing to the vet.  When I got there, I realized I was still wearing mismatched wool socks that I had slipped on this morning to let the dogs out.  If I had been wearing my pajamas, I would have gone in those.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

You know you have dogs when...

you reach into your pocket in the checkout lane at the grocery store and find a handful of dog treats.

I've also heard about this happening to moms.  One time my mom ran her hand through her hair at the grocery store only to find she was still sporting the hair-do my little sister had given her, complete with the sparkly butterfly clips I wore in the 6th grade.  Sometimes moms realize they have baby spit-up all over their shoulder.

One time in high school I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and during class, I reached into the hood and pulled out a sock that had gotten stuck in there in the laundry.  What if it had been my dad's underwear or something?  I would have been mortified.  My dad is probably mortified that I mentioned his underdrawers on the internet.

It's Fall, Ya'll

Happy first day of autumn!  I don't usually use the word y'all (for those of you who know me and are scratching your heads in wonderment) but I love fall, so why not?  I bought an awesome pumpkin at the grocery store that reminds me of Hagrid's hut in Harry Potter (nerdy, I know, it's a good thing I'm a librarian) and cheery yellow mums for my front porch.  I almost succumbed to nostalgia and bought a bag of candy corn pumpkins, but I remembered that I like the idea of them more than I like the taste.  And since I somehow ended up marrying a guy without a sweet tooth, I would have had to eat them by myself.  They're kind of like those chalky valentine's message hearts; you buy them because they are iconic of the holiday, and then no one wants to actually eat them.  I found a recipe yesterday for pumpkin and ricotta stuffed shells that I want to try, but I'm also a little leery of the idea.  I bought a can of pumpkin at the store but forgot the ricotta.  I'll let you know if I ever get around to making it.  Anyone else find interesting autumn inspired recipes lately?  Anything good?  Is there anyone out there who likes candy corn pumpkins enough to eat the whole bag by themselves?

P.S. There was a mouse outside my garage today.  It was really pudgy (probably from all the corn, oats, and rabbit food we keep in the garage.)  And to tell you the truth, it was kinda cute.  But I still don't want it to curl up inside my boots, eat the dog's food and scurry around inside my house.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Three things I'm terrified of:

1. Roosters.

2. Getting head-butted by the ram.  It hurts.  So does getting attacked by a rooster.

3.  Stepping into my farm boots and finding a mouse inside with my toes.

All of these things live on my farm. 2 out of 3 things have happened already.  I have to face my fears on a daily basis.

I'm also afraid of snakes.  And I found a cast-off snake skin in my front yard.

If you want to have a scary Halloween this year and are also afraid of these creatures, stop my by house.  We can party with the mice on my back porch, stick our bare feet into boots on said back porch, and then turn our backs to the rooster and the ram.  Maybe the snake will stop in and say 'hello.'    

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Only a few weeks into harvest season and I feel like I am running a hotel.  Joey's in around 9 pm and out the door again at 6 am.  He drags himself in the door after a long day on the tractor, heats up some leftovers of the dinner I ate alone on the couch, and then falls into bed.  Since I moved in with Joey I've been the cook, the maid, the laundress, the dog wrangler and the chicken girl.  For the most part, Joey handles most of the care for the sheep, as well as the outside tasks like mowing the lawn.  Now I've added those tasks onto my burgeoning workload. (Except that I don't know how to mow the lawn...the grass is getting pretty tall.)

Right now, I'm on the couch, a mostly-eaten bowl of boxed macaroni and cheese on one side of my lap, a sleeping dog on the other.  It's just me, the animals, and this old, unfinished house.  And the animals are always hungry and the house is always a mess.  And it's only the beginning of the harvest.

Hungry hotel guests

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Thursday night, bowling tonight.  We'll see how week three goes...last week I improved my scores from the first week.  I'm just bummed that Joey is working late for the harvest so he can't be there.

This weekend is Homecoming for the town that I work in.  And out here, it doesn't just mean a football game and a high school dance like it did in the city where I grew up.  Out in this small town, homecoming is a big event.  The square across the street from the library has been transformed into a carnival, the streets are covered with kiddie rides and corn dog vendors.  On Saturday, there will be a parade, and yes, I will be in it.  Last year, after being at the library for a little over a month, I was asked by the Board of Directors if I would drive a float through the Homecoming parade.  I had absolutely no clue what Homecoming was about last year, but I dutifully decorated a board member's four-wheeler and drove it through the parade.  She called it a "Land Rover."  Where I come from, Land Rovers are big SUV's.  After waiting in the rain for an hour for the parade to start, I drove the Land Rover, covered in smeary and dripping posters, down the 2-block parade route.  I waved at my new community, trying to recognize faces I had seen in the library in the last month.  This year, I should be able to recognize a few more.

There are certainly many "regulars" at the library.  Some people come in every Friday to check out and return books.  Some people often come in to make copies.  I have a lot of kids that race over after school to get on the computers.  And then there are the few people that are in every. day. of. the. week.  A few people who spend their entire day playing games on Facebook.  Even though we ask patrons to limit their computer time to one hour a day.

This has been a long week.  I am looking forward to going home after the Homecoming Parade Saturday morning.  And we have a great reason for visiting home too: Joey's brother is on a two week leave from his Army deployment in Iraq.  He left before our wedding in February and we are so excited to see him.  Sometimes I get weary of life so far away from my family, but four hours away is nothing compared to being in Iraq.  We can't wait to see him and hopefully he can come home with us for a few days and then take the train back home.

I got to talk to my sister last night for a few minutes and she texted me today.  She is away at an environmental studies semester high school program in northern Wisconsin called Conserve School.  She's been hiking, canoeing, and studying with other environment-minded high school students.  Not only do I miss her, I wish I was there.

It's strange to think that last year I was just a city girl in a small town and the new librarian.  A year later, I am part of the community: Whitney, the librarian.  Not only do I work in this town, I know people here, and they know me.  At the bank they call me by my first name when I walk in the door.  They know my drink order (Cherry Coke) and my favorite sandwich (veggie) at the restaurant and at the gas station.  I've become a part of this town, I belong at this year's homecoming, celebrating as a part of the community.  But as much as I am starting to feel where I belong in this town, I'm glad we're going home this weekend.  I can't wait to see my family: our parents, brother-in-laws, dogs, and all.  We have more than one Homecoming to celebrate this weekend.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Last night I had a can of Spaghettios for dinner.  I know most people over the age of 5 years old would probably say that Spaghettios are pretty gross, but to me, they are comfort food.  When I was little, my Grandma Pinky always made me a bowl of Spaghettios when I stayed at her house for the day.  And she always made me little buttered bread fingers with the crusts cut off.  So to me, a can of processed tomato sauce with little pasta o's and buttered bread is a little slice of happiness.  And by 7 o'clock last night I barely had the energy to open up the can.  I had gotten home at 6:15 pm after a long and busy day at the library.  And in the 45 minutes since I got home, the puppy pooped in the house, bit my hand, and went swimming in Daisy's water bowl (in other words: flooded the dining room floor.)  In that same period of time, Daisy ran down the street to sniff another dog and then pulled me down the street on the leash and one of the lamb's heads got stuck in the fence.

By the time I had coaxed the frantic lamb's head back through the fence and found a can of Spaghettios in the cabinet, I was pretty overwhelmed.  All I could think about was how Joey still wouldn't be home from work for a couple hours and how utterly alone I felt on our little farm.  I felt trapped by our dogs and livestock and the housework and by my lack of friends out here and the fact that I just can't do it all by myself.  And then the puppy ate my buttered bread fingers.  And that was the straw that broke the camel's back.  I started bawling right there in the kitchen while the dog licked butter off his face and looked at me like I was crazy.  I took my bowl out of the microwave and my remaining bread fingers and sat down on the couch and cried over a bowl of Spaghettios.  And Daisy sat next to me, not for comfort, but just in case I wasn't going to finish my food and would like to share it with her.  Luckily, Joey came home about an hour later so I could share my dog woes with him.  He ate a can of vegetable soup out of the pot he heated it up in.  We were both exhausted.

This morning, Jip didn't bark until about 5 minutes before my alarm went off (unusual for him) so I was pretty refreshed when I woke up.  I remembered that Joey had asked me before he left for work if I could water the chickens and the sheep.  I let Jip out, fed him, let him out again, walked Daisy up the street, and then gave water to the chickens and the sheep and fed the bunny.  I even took clothes down from the line, and washed and hung up another basket of clothes.  And I paid the bills.  I felt pretty good about my productive morning.  The house didn't get any cleaner, and there are still dirty dishes in the sink (as usual), but all of our animals got fed and watered, the dogs got walked, I didn't get bitten or head-butted, and I actually ate a bowl of oatmeal and plucked a few stray eyebrows before getting out the door.

 I locked my keys in the house.  I guess you win some, you lose some.  I'll never be totally organized and put-together.  Some days I will go to work with muddy paw prints on my pants or forget my lunch on the table.  But I get to work on time (mostly) and work hard to pay my bills and support this crazy chaotic life I lead.  Tonight, we have a board meeting at the library and I know I will be exhausted again when I get home (after going out the farm where Joey works to pick up his house key.)  Maybe I'll mix it up and microwave a frozen soy chicken patty for dinner tonight.  At least my kitchen smells like I actually cooked something because I found Jip chewing on a whole head of garlic this morning.  

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Let sleeping dogs lie

Yep, it's true.  I won't ever be sleeping in again, the dogs won't let me.  Although I am trying to figure out a way to take both of them out and feed them that is less chaotic than my current efforts, which often lead me to chasing one or both dogs out of the neighbor's yard in my pajamas and rubber rain boots.  This morning at 7:30 am, I let Jip out because he had been barking for the last ten minutes straight.  Then I got him back inside, fed him and Daisy, then took Jip back outside by himself.  Finally, after Jip had eaten and gone to the bathroom outside I took Daisy out on the leash and walked her up the street.  Right now, without a fenced in yard, I can't take both dogs out at the same time unless Joey is home to help me.  They listen better to his deeper, commanding voice, and completely ignore my shrieking.  Here's hoping that fencing in our yard won't cost an arm and a leg.  Although an arm and a leg might be worth the price my dignity has paid after all the interesting combinations of pajamas, socks and rain boots I have worn around the neighborhood, shrieking like a banshee.  All I'm asking is to be able to let the dogs out, let them get some exercise that doesn't involve me chasing and them running away, and another hour of sleep on a Saturday morning.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sleeping in?

I guess it's about time I get used to these farm mornings and resign myself to the fact that my chances of sleeping in out here are slim.  Fridays are supposed to be my days to sleep in a little, clean the house, and go to the grocery store (a trip that takes a couple hours out here) before going in to work at the library at 2 pm.  This morning is the kind of morning where I like to stay in bed a little longer: grey and rainy.  Instead, Joey and I were jolted from sleep at 5:30 this morning to a fire call on the radio for a grain silo fire.  Joey bolted out of bed, found some clothes and dashed out the door while I groggily said, "Bye, be careful."  I then tossed and turned for another hour and a half until Joey called me at 7 am and I couldn't understand if my phone was ringing or my alarm was going off.  Because he went straight from the fire to work in the fields, he didn't have a lunch, and wanted to know if I could bring him one around noon.  He also told me that the trash wasn't out on the curb and since I know the trash guy comes pretty early Friday mornings, I peeled myself out of bed to drag the heavy trash can down to the curb in my pjs and slippers, with Jip jumping up and biting my pants drawstrings with every step I took.  After I finally coaxed Jip inside, I cleaned up all the mess he had left me on the kitchen floor overnight and then took another bag of garbage out with Jip at my heels.  I gave Jip a bowl of dog food and tried to sneak back under the covers but then all I could think about is how he often goes to the bathroom about 5 minutes after he eats.  So I got back up and let him out and Daisy went out too and ran across the street, and Jip followed.  After yelling and whistling and coaxing the dogs back into the house, I gave Daisy some food, and told Jip to go back to bed.  I walked into my room to the sound of my alarm clock going off at 7:45.  No wonder I'm late to work everyday if it takes 45 minutes just to let the dogs out, wrangle them back inside (more like chase them around in my pajamas, yelling their names while they choose to ignore me), clean up pee, feed both of them, and take them out two more times...  And the sheep are baaing for food and the laundry on the line got rained on.  No wonder I'm not a morning person.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Labor Day

Although we were supposed to be getting a break from work on Monday, we actually did a lot of work around the house.  After this weekend, we're one more step closer towards making this house into our home.  The work actually started on Sunday, when my mom and I drove an hour up to the nearest warehouse hardware store to get some things for the house.  We filled up a shopping cart and a flat-bed cart with a new water-saving toilet, tiles for the bathroom floor, blinds for the dining room and living room, hardware for hanging frames, a squeegie (?) for cleaning the windows, and some 2x4's for the rabbit hutch.  We were quite a sight.  And a lot of Lowe's employees asked us if we needed help...we we're fine, thank you!  On Monday, we were able to wrangle Joey into taking down the old blinds and hanging the new ones.  Then we hung new curtains in the dining room and all the frames that have been sitting around for months, waiting for homes on the walls.  After my mom left to go back home, Joey and I prepared the bathroom floor with a primer so that we could lay new tiles over the nasty old asbestos tiles that have probably been there for 50 years.  We also ripped out the old toilet, which had also probably been there for the last 50 years.  The tank on that thing was so big, they old owners actually cut a hole in the wall for the edge of the toilet tank lid to fit into.  Just one of the wonderfully strange and annoying things we'll have to fix in this home that has seen 103 years' worth of changes.  If you ever need a good stress reliever, I would recommend smashing an old toilet to lots of porcelain bits in your front yard.  Joey did ask me before we smashed it if I wanted to keep it for a flower pot (we've see it done out here, in fact we almost hit one with our car when we were house-hunting last year, but that's another story...)  I didn't think we had lived in the country long enough for our lawn-decorating aesthetic to include toilets, maybe in forty years or so...

After the primer in the bathroom dried, we were ready to start laying the new tile.  Joey set to work on the floor while I continued to work on my stair project.  After about an hour, I finally pulled the very last staple off the stairs!  Yay me!  I hated those stupid staples.  Joey didn't finish laying the tile on Sunday but he got a lot done, in the bathroom and around the house.  When we went to bed that night, we were amazed at all the things we accomplished in one day.  Hopefully we can keep up our momentum.

New flooring going in, not quite finished yet

Bye old toilet!  Don't worry, we have plans for those nasty walls!

New tile going over old grey tile

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tomatoes in Iowa

Joey went back to farming last week and I'm back to the life of a farmer's wife.   Today was the first day of the harvest season, which means long hours on the tractor, picking corn and soybeans.  It's 9 pm and I'm still waiting for Joey to come home.  He has some long days ahead of him.  Last autumn he worked from 6 am until midnight some nights.  It was good to have the long weekend to relax before jumping head-first into hard work.

Last weekend, my mom came to visit and we decided to take a mini road-trip.  In the past few years, we have discovered the Seed Savers Organization for heirloom and organic vegetable and flower seeds for our gardens.  The organization preserves the history of plants that have been passed down through the generations and compiles a list of members that have saved seeds from thousands of heirloom plants.  Their colorful seed catalog is enough to keep any gardener going through the long months of January and February.  This weekend, Seed Savers was having a tomato testing party at their farm in Decorah, IA and since my mom loves tomatoes, I thought she would love to go.  I also thought that Decorah, IA wasn't that far away from my house...

It took us 6 hours on Saturday morning to get to the Seed Savers farm.  But it was worth the trip.  The farm was beautiful, the old barn was amazing, and the tomatoes were tasty.  But to be honest, Iowa was kind of a drag.  We were hoping to stay the night somewhere in the area but because of the holiday weekend, our options were limited.  My mom made a reservation at a hotel about an hour away from the Seed Savers farm in the hopes that there would be interesting things to do and see on our way back home Sunday.  Nope, we didn't see anything on our drive but farm, after farm, after farm.  And we like our drives in the country, we were just hoping for an antique shop or two.  It didn't help that it rained almost the entire day and by the early evening, we just wanted to eat dinner and go home.  So we ended up eating dinner at an Italian restaurant that gave us heartburn and garlic breath and kept on driving.  We got to my house around 1 am.

The next morning we slept in until 9 am and puttered around the house and then Joey took us out to the state park where there is an annual tractor show and flea market.  Sunday was beautiful and breezy and my mom and I had fun walking around the flea market while Joey wandered off to look at the tractors.  I bought a pair of vintage embroidered pillowcases and looked at all the hand-sewn quilts.  We found a hand-knit baby hat for my cousin's baby, Molly, that looks like a sock-monkey.  I can't wait to see her in it.  She is the most fashionable baby I know and I think she has a different hair bow and tutu for every occasion, from birthdays to Steelers games.

After the flea market, my mom and I made the hour-long trip up to a town with a Lowes, JC Penney's, and target to get some things for my house like blinds and a new toilet for the downstairs bathroom.  I'll fill you in tomorrow on our adventures in home repair.  Let's just say that we had a full cart and a giant flat-bed trolley filled with stuff from Lowes.  All in all, it was a great weekend.  Love you Mom, thanks for all your help!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Close to home

It's only been two days since Joey started his new job back on a farm, but I am already loving that he works closer to home.  We even work in the same small town, about 10 minutes from our house.  And he has an hour for lunch which means that he can go home to eat if he wants or he can meet me for lunch at the diner.  Because I don't start work until 2 pm on Fridays, I was home when Joey came home for lunch.  I told Daisy he was coming home and she waited for him on the driveway.  She soaked up the sun with her black fur and waited for her boy.  I think it's kinda nice to come home to a furry welcoming committee.

At two, I pulled into my parking spot at the library and walked over to retrieve the mail from the mailbox when someone kept whistling at me.  I'm sure I made a face like, "c'mon, I'm just trying to get to work here," and looked around for the culprit.  It was my husband across the street at the car wash...sorry for giving you dirty looks, babe!  I like knowing that Joey is closer to home now, crossing the same paths I cross during the day, and working in the same community.

P.S. This is my 100th post!  Feels kinda like kindergarten, when you celebrate the 100th day of school and you're supposed to bring in 100 of something, like pennies or buttons.  I tried to find 100 dried cicada shells.  I don't think I found 100 in my backyard but I definitely remember bringing a bunch of those little exoskeletons to school in a margarine tub.  What a strange 5 year old I was.  And I still think it's cool when you find one of those little cicada skins in your backyard.

P.P.S This has got to be the weirdest thing EVER.  I'll admit I like cicada shells, but not this much.  This does not look like my idea of a good time.  And more than one photo of this girl comes up in a google image search of cicada shells...bizarre.  Maybe Lady Gaga could make a cicada shell dress.  Had enough with the cicada shells?  Sorry.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Busy days

Today is going to be a busy day.  The library book club is meeting tonight to discuss The Hunger Games.  I am excited to talk about this book because I think that everyone who read it is likely to have a reaction and a few opinions about it.  It is a book that is hard to put down and it was probably the first book that ever made my heart beat out of fear for the main character.  It's sequel was great too.  I read the two books in a couple days and then had to wait for months for the third in the trilogy to come out.  I reread the first two and then the third was released and I was never more disappointed in a book.  I disliked it so much, it almost made me change my feelings for the first two books.  I will have to read it again and see if my feelings change.  I was so mad at the author, who I felt had just written this ending as quick as possible while the books were still popular and didn't do the heroes any justice.  I felt the characters were so much more than she wrote them in the final book.  I can't wait until the rest of the book club has read the third book to see what their reactions are.

After book club, I have to meet Joey at the bowling lanes in our town.  We were asked to join the bowling league on Thursdays and it all starts tonight.  They probably should have seen us bowl before asking us; let's just hope they pair us with a couple that isn't too concerned with winning.

This weekend, I am hoping to take a little road trip with my mom to Decorah, IA to the Seed Saver's Exchange Heritage Farm.  Will let you know all about it!