Saturday, January 31, 2009
After the brown Jersey cow was done, the next project was to get the this bad boy, Lane's Black Angus bull, into the chute. Hijole. There was a hispanic fellow there named Jose, and after talking to him a minute, all my exclamations, related to the bull, were coming out in Spanish. I found that quite interesting! Maybe a flashback from my cowboy/ranching cousins growing up.
Anyway, this bull was something else. He was huge! I can see him singing that part from Madagascar, "I like 'em big, I like 'em chunky..." Only he wasn't mellow like Moto Moto. He was out to get somebody!
About ten seconds after this video stops, Mr. Black Angus decides to JUMP the gate that I have an arrow pointing to in the next picture, off to the right of Bruce.
This is the pen where the Jersey cows were, so he wanted to be with the ladies and the calves. Oh boy, the cowboys were not expecting that! It was quite a sight to see a 2000 lb animal get himself off the ground and over that gate. Luckily he didn't decide to jump when he was facing Bruce in the video! Bruce would have been jumpin' over a gate himself! Luckily, he does it every day when he goes out to feed the cows, so I know he can still get it done.
With some Yawin' and He-hawin', Lane getting on the tin roof above him, the kids pounding on the shed behind him, and Bruce getting IN the pen, and more yelling, Mr. Black Angus finally went down the chute and ended up here.Good thing Lane was quick on the sanction, or he would have gotten right through and caused all sorts of trouble.It was amazing to see a bull this close. He was all full of testosterone, swinging his head around and spit flying everywhere. It was gross or awesome, depending on how you think of testosterone.
Lane said, "Here Bruce, why don't you tag his ear?" Bruce laughed about that later. Lane did the branding, so I think Bruce got the easier part.
They got it all done without any further incident. That was something else, working with that bull. It was intense to be in a situation where something could go very wrong in short order.
Before doing this blog, I would never have gotten pictures like this, but I knew I wanted to get this recorded, so I got down there and got some pictures, just to be able to blog it. Ha ha!
Until the next Cowboy Chronicles...
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
You can see a couple of times she puts different pieces of the Nativity Scene in place while she's singing. I couldn't post it, because it was too long, but she goes on to sing the next two verses and puts the shepherd and other figures in place.
This touched me deeply. I'm so thankful that my daughter has the spiritual sensitivity to want to "worship" and that she knows how to do that, on her own, unstructured and unbidden, at such a young age. I am very grateful for that because I know it will bring her much joy throughout her life.
I'm only sorry she didn't get a picture of her face while she was videotaping! So here's a picture of her singing at the Ward Christmas Party just a few days earlier.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I was just talking to Chris today about what an amazing thing it is to bring a sibling into a family. What I mean is that Chris and Elena have just brought JD into the family, and from now on, there will be this bond between Lane and JD that is like no other relationship the two of them will ever have with anyone else. The tie with your sibling next to you - it's just a unique bond that can't be duplicated. Of course that's a generalization, and won't be the same in every case, but for the most part, I think it's true. At least it is for me, and my children.
I can't wait to get to know this new little person, whom I will know and love forever. Think of that! Or maybe I'm being short-sighted here. Maybe I should say that we'll be getting reaquainted? I would like to think that, but I'm not sure. I do know I will love him forever, though.
I so wish we were closer and could hold him. Bruce, Julianne, and Holly, you guys get your little hineys over there and hold that little baby for us! :)
Speaking of that, Conal & Monique - we need more pictures of Macy!
By the way, THE SUN WAS OUT AGAIN TODAY. Oh, it feel lucious to have the sun bathing my face with light. Ahhhh. The downside is that it's 16 degrees outside, but I'll take that over inversion and 30 degrees anytime.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The next day on Craigslist (Bruce is seriously addicted to it), he found two cows with calves (a bull and a heifer) in the same town as the chickens. So in his mind, since we were going to drive all the way out there, we should get all these animals at once. Which he did. Ha
No, the real reason we got the cows is because we have a friend that runs cows, and we are going to help him with the ranching duties in exchange for running our cows with his. Joseph had enough money saved up from his 4-H lamb projects and soccer refereeing, that he bought one of the cows and her bull calf. He will raise and sell calves from his cow over the next four years in hopes of turning his investment into significant profit before his mission. And we bought the other cow and calf. It is a high risk investment, because it involves animals which can get sick and die, but we feel good about the opportunity. And the experience.
Last Friday night, Joseph and Bruce went over to help with some of these ranching duties. They rounded up the cattle on horses and ran them into a squeeze, where they tagged them, branded them, and put them in the right herd. They only did ten that night, and have thirty to forty more to go. I can't believe that they are doing real cowboy stuff like this! I'll have to go and take pictures next time they do this. Bruce is relishing this experience, and really appreciating the opportunity to learn new skills. Plus the opportunity to make some money at it is a plus.
Today Libby went out and brought in a dozen brown eggs in the little tin bucket, so the chickens are starting to produce well! We haven't had a good group of layers in a while, so it'll be good to get back to that.
In my last post, I talked about my Dad having some health problems on their mission in Panama. They diagnosed him with having two small TIA's or transient ischemic attacks, where there is a temporary loss of blood to the brain. He is recovering well, however, and improving a little every day. But you can't believe what happened last Tuesday (only four days after my Dad's last TIA). My Mother tripped on a tile and shattered the bones in her right shoulder! I couldn't believe it when I heard it. The doctor examined her and said that she needed surgery to put in a rod and a plate.
It was no small miracle that my brother Curtis was already down there helping her with Dad. My other brother Cedric also flew down on Tuesday, and together they decided that they would leave Panama the next day, Wednesday, and that Mom would have the surgery in Atlanta, where Curtis lives. They succeeded in doing this, and my angel and able sister-in-law Michelle pulled some strings and got her into an appointment on Wed afternoon and surgery on Thursday. She is at their home in Atlanta now, and both she and Dad are recuperating and doing well. WHEW! I was able to speak to Dad Thursday night, and he sounded good! How sweet to hear his voice, and be able to communicate with him. I feel so blessed, like I've been given another chance. And thank you to mi familia in Atlanta who are helping Mom and Dad!
My brother Conal (I have a lot of brothers) sent a tribute, by way of a YouTube video, to honor my Mom and Dad for the four missions that they have served for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Thank you Mom & Dad - we are SO very proud of you and your example to us.
In the midst of all of this, I have forgotten to mention that my other brother Chris (I told you I had a lot!) and his wife Elena had a baby a week ago Wednesday. They named him J.D. Congratulations Chris and Elena!! There were some copmlications with his birth and he was born by emergency C-section. We are so grateful, Elena, that you and J.D. are all right!
Peter is doing so well! On Monday morning Bruce took him in to the Surgery Center and they put him under while they reset the bone. It was a little frustrating that they didn't do it right in the first place in the ER, but, that happens sometimes, doesn't it? They did a good job this time, and he was able to move his fingers and their color looked a lot better after this procedure. Tomorrow he goes to get a cast on.
Can I just say that Peter has been The Bomb this week, in modern parlance. He has hardly complained, and been so much more self-sufficient under difficult circumstances than almost any other child would have been. He has just taken it all in stride, and has not spent time on self-pity or whining. I have been so proud of him and his character this week.
I have to report a happy thing, and that is that we have been playing a lot of games. Yea! We've really turned a corner, as far as that goes. I posted earlier that our family had a hard time playing games together. But we are getting past that, and I'm so glad! Last night we played Whoonu and then Great Dalmuti for awhile. I need to record that after Josh, Libby gets to be the Great Dalmuti more than anyone else in the family! Not only is she extremely lucky, she is just plain smart and knows how to play the game! It gives all the rest of us humble pie to eat.
After the younger kids went to bed, Josh, Joseph and I got out Puerto Rico and started playing it. (We tried to wake Bruce up, but to no avail). All of a sudden the lights flickered, and then everything went totally black. And I mean black. We were in the middle of an inversion, so there was no moon or stars, and with no lights anywhere, it was pitch black. So weird! We immediately turned on cell phones (which are good little flashlights!) and found another real flashlight. After going to put extra covers on everyone that was asleep, we climbed up on the roof to see what it was like with no lights anywhere. That was the first time I have ever been up on our roof! It was fun to be up there with the boys. We came back down and were determined to finish our game, so we lit up some candles and played into the night. Josh whooped us with 73 points, I had 67 and Joseph had 60. Puerto Rico is a fun game - it has become a favorite! I told Bruce this morning that we'll always remember playing Puerto Rico in the candlelight!
We had a neat family over to dinner tonight - our friends Tom and Mindy and their family, and also Tom's parents. Tom's Dad served in the Mexico Puebla mission in 1963. He served in 6 branches. He researched those six branches on the lds.org website, and found that they have become 18 stakes, over the last 40 years. Holy Toledo.
Has anyone seen, Emma Smith My Story? We watched it Friday night. It was emotionally wrenching, a well-done movie, and one that I recommend. It will be a great joy to me to see Joseph and Emma together, and to see their joy in having fought the good fight and seeing what their good works accomplished. I honor and love them!
Jesse has composed a song on the piano, and added lyrics. When she performs it, you have to think twice and ask yourself if you are listening to a song on the radio. We are going to be looking into finding someone with a recording studio, so she can get it recorded. Tom, our friend who was here tonight, is a real musician, and he praised the song highly and gave her so much confidence. Thanks, Tom and Mindy for listening and being so nice!
WE SAW THE SUN TODAY. It has to be in capital letters. We haven't seen it for weeks, and I have felt like clawing my way out of this cardboard box of an existence with this inversion. A strong (and frigid) wind was blowing today, and I hope it keeps the cloud s away! I need sunlight so badly, it's amazing. I FEEL so differently when I see sunshine. I feel good, happy, the world is bright and I'm hittin' the sky with my hat. When I don't see the sun, I feel like the cardboard box thing. Yuck. Like Anne of Green Gables, I am in the depths of despair.
So please sun, stay for awhile!
Man, I've been long-winded in this blog, with only one picture. Thank you for reading, if you are still with me. You are a true friend! :)
Sunday, January 18, 2009
On Thursday morning we got up early and sang Las Mañanitas (a Mexican birthday song) to Joseph, who turned 15 years old! This is our family tradition, which we carry on from my family. We laughed and talked, as we always do after we sing, about when he was born, and memories that we have of him. Two words for raising Joseph - pure joy and pride, and exasperation! OK, four words.
But that doesn't count in the 72 hours. I just had to record that we sang Las Mañanitas.
This is where the 72 hours starts - on Thursday evening. We had a group of Joseph's friends over for a party. As everyone was arriving, they were up in the ER (Entertainment Room) playing around. Peter jumped over the couch and landed on his forearm. When he got up he got a huge look of shock on his face and then started yelling. Owing to the fact that we had a house full of teenagers, Bruce took Peter into the ER by himself. More on that later...
(look at Libby's curled toes - very cute!)
Joseph, Happy Birthday son! We love you so much.
Now to Peter in the ER. They took X-rays and found out that Peter broke his ulna and radius. They put him under and straightened out the break. Bruce said that while he was going out, he was saying, "Where's my book? I need my book!" This is funny, because Peter is not the biggest reader in the family. Maybe he is subconsciously feeling guilty!
When they took X-rays again at the end, they found that they hadn't straightened it enough. So tomorrow morning I am taking him in to a Surgery Center to get it straightened out all the way. They will sedate him to do it, thank goodness.After the birthday party Thursday night, Peter and Bruce finally got home from the ER at about midnight, so we tucked him in bed and finally got to sleep.
Five hours later, at 5 am, the phone rang, and my brother Curtis was calling from Atlanta. He said that he had just received a phone call from my mother saying that my Dad was incoherent and talking jibberish, and that they were taking him in to the Doctor. In the few days before that, he had broken out in shingles and then had a convulsion, of sorts, in the Temple. He had been resting at home for a few days when this happened.
I was pretty calm when I heard the news, but I feared the worst. Bruce's paternal grandmother had a stroke and spoke jibberish the rest of her life. I can't remember how long she lived, but I'm thinking about five years. This is what I thought had happened to my Dad. I kept repeating the following words in my mind and heart, "This life is a sliver of eternity. A sliver," and spent some time on my knees praying very sincerely.
Thankfully, about an hour later, we heard that he was speaking all right and could remember his birthday. I was vastly relieved! My brother Curtis flew down to Panama Saturday evening, and he reports that the Doctor said that Dad had two Transient Ischemic Attacks or TIA's. They are mini-strokes, where the brain has a temporary lack of oxygen, but not enough to cause the damage that a major stroke causes. Dad has really low blood pressure, and has been known to faint easily, so apparently he has had a condition for a long time where he is not getting enough blood into his brain. He also reports that Dad is not completing sentences, but they are hoping that is because of the sedation medication that he's been on. He's in the hospital there right now.
As a consequence of all this, my Mom has made the decision to come home from their mission in the Temple in Panama. I think this is the right choice, but I am sad that their health won't allow them to stay down there and enjoy that mission. My mom's ankle was also very painful for her every day also, so that will be a relief to her as well. Considering the circumstances, it is a real blessing that they served as long as they have, about six months, and got to have those experiences and meet the wonderful people in the Temple there.
This is a picture of my Mom hugging my Dad after he performed the sealing of my niece Clarissa and her new husband Josh in the Atlanta Temple in June 2007. I love this picture. I love my Dad. He is a dear, dear person to me, and I love him so much.
Friday evening, Bruce's brother Gary and his new wife Heidi came for to visit for a few days with Zach, Sarah and Kaleb. Gary and Heidi got married Friday morning. We are happy for them. And, it is still somewhat of a struggle because I'm still dealing emotionally with the loss of my dear sister-in-law (ex sister-in-law now), Lorna Kay in our family. Thankfully she is doing very well, considering the circumstances, because she is an awesome person, so I'm grateful for that. But I know there's lots of room in a heart for love, so I'm glad that Gary and Heidi are happy, and we do and will love Heidi also.
Josh spoke in church today, after finally getting a trim on his hair this morning (this was after quite a battle, but Mom won this time.) He gave a good talk on the Priesthood.
After Josh's talk we all went over to my nephew Devyn's missionary farewell talk in their Sacrament Meeting. He gave a WONDERFUL talk. My favorite parts were when he quoted from memory Doctrine & Covenants Section 4, and when he gave this quote from memory:
"The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).
I also loved it when he described how profoundly he felt when he read the words, "You are hereby called to serve...", a call from the prophet, Thomas S. Monson. Devyn literally radiated excitement and testimony. I am so proud of him, and the people of the Washington D.C. South mission are in for a treat!
So, there you have it. In 72 hours, a birthday, a broken arm, emotionally draining news of my Father, house guests and some emotional wrangling with it, and a wonderful missionary farewell.
Oh yeah, and we also added 15 animals to our hobby-farm during this 72 hours. But more on that in a later post...
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Day of Faith: Personal Quests for a Purpose - 3. Rachel Esplin from Harvard Hillel on Vimeo.
I don't know Rachel, but I received this link from a friend of mine and really enjoyed watching her in this interview. It looks like a religious panel of some sort at Harvard. She answers eloquently some questions about our church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Go Rachel!
Saturday, January 10, 2009
This is one addition we've been contemplating for a long time.
We found a good deal on Craigslist and finally decided it was time.
So we proudly introduce Buttercup, the Jersey dairy cow. This was her name before, and we decided to keep it.
I wish I had a camera to see all of your reactions right now! I told Bruce that we're trying to make ourselves as "peculiar" as possible. What percentage of the US population works on "bleeding edge" technology as a software engineer and milks a cow twice a day? And then blogs about it??
Ever since our friends and neighbors got a milk cow almost two years ago, we have helped them milk their cow once a week. This has given us an idea of what it would be like. We have thought about getting our own ever since then, and we finally did it. It's a great investment because we will not only have the milk, but are able to breed her and raise steers that can be sold for profit, besides raising a steer for ourselves for meat. Our ancestors were not far off when they described their dairy cow as one of their most valuable possessions!
We're pretty excited about Buttercup. She is pregnant and due on Feb. 14th. If she has a heifer (a female calf), we'll be able to raise her and sell her back to a dairy for twice what we paid for Buttercup. If it's a steer (a male calf), well, he's not so lucky. We'll name him Hamburguesa II, raise him and eat him. If you're vegetarian and reading this post - sorry!
Because she's pregnant, we won't start milking Buttercup until about four months after she's calved. Luckily though, we have a deal with our friends that they'll milk their cow for half the year and share the milk with us, and then we'll milk Buttercup for half a year and share with them.
Another important reason we wanted this cow was to have meaningful work for the children, as Elder Maxwell encouraged us to do. They'll be the ones trading off doing the milking.
Also, what better food storage could you have?
But mostly we are excited to have some good milk!!
Welcome to the Farm, Buttercup.
Monday, January 5, 2009
"We noticed that Peter was able to launch some model rockets – that is very interesting and a lot of fun. Bruce with the boys launched a lot of them, even multiple stages. You asked if anyone ever saw a real rocket launch. You can tell Peter that his Grandpa has watched quite a few.
Grandma and I were able to watch a shuttle launch from the Cape in Florida. I saw a night launch of the Delta rocket – it was very spectacular. I also saw a Titan launch and was at the tracking station on two different occasions for a launch and saw all the data coming in and plotted temperatures compared to predictions. I was able to climb through the shuttle mockup that they have at Kennedy Space Center and see what the astronauts do and how they sit and also watch through a back window the cargo bay with satellites and such that they carry to space.
I guess I have had that privilege over the years because I worked in the business.
Anyway, tell Peter that yes his Grandpa has seen quite a few launches and that the model rockets accelerate much faster than the real ones because their power-to-weight ratio is so much higher.
Love, Grandpa and Grandma"
He doesn't say it here, but Grandpa is one of the premier thermodynamics engineers in the country, and is in fact a real rocket scientist! Here is an autographed photo of an Alpha-Centaur Launch that Grandpa was give by co-workers when he retired from Lockheed Martin.
I told Peter he could grow up and be a rocket scientist like Grandpa and he said, "I'll do it."
Here are some pictures from past years of Peter and his Grandpa.
But being a rocket scientist is only one of the many great skills and qualities that Grandpa has, and really not the most important one to us. The most important ones are that he is a great father and grandfather, has a strong testimony of the gospel and is a wonderful example to his grandchildren of keeping commandments and serving. We surely do love Grandpa and are grateful for his warmth and love for each of us.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
It's hard to explain, but suffice it to say that each one of our children has a big red streak running through them. By that I mean that each one is confident, bossy, stubborn, wants their way, and competitive. Libby is the closest we come to having a peacemaker, and she's still young enough to want her way. (I don't know where they get this from - ha ha). So when it comes to game playing, things gets a little tricky, dicey, hectic, loud - you get the picture. I have given lecture after lecture this past two weeks about character. I've talked about how games reveal your character. I've talked about how life reveals your character. I've talked about how life is all about developing and refining your CHARACTER.
This afternoon, all six children were in the family room playing Great Dalmuti, a card game. I can count on one hand the time that all of our children have played a game like this. They have played other things together, but not very often an actual game like this, on their own, without any parental supervision. (I know this is really sad, but it's true.) They were playing before dinner, and they started it up again after dinner. There were some blow-ups, but I stayed out of it and they solved it on their own. I only yelled out once about character development. I was pretty proud of myself!! And proud of them.
I've heard of other families playing games together a lot, and frankly, I've been jealous, because it just doesn't seem to happen for us; or it hasn't until this holiday season. They are older, and that makes a huge difference, but we have finally gotten over that hump (whatever it was made of) and we/they are playing games. Yeah! I'm really happy about that.
I really do believe what I have been trying to teach the kids about character, though. So much of what happens to us in life is about character development, and not about the immediate circumstances or outcomes.
Take, for example, Joseph of Egypt and Potipher's wife. Thankfully, Joseph understood that the preservation of his good character was more important than the immediate outcome. Prison seems like a pretty harsh reward for obeying commandments, but it really wasn't about the immediate outcome. It was about Joseph learning what he needed to, and also being in the right place at the right time later in his life, something he surely could not have foreseen in that bedroom in Potipher's palace. I love Joseph of Egypt. I love him for his example, over and over, of doing the right thing, even when the reward was not immediate, not in the next weeks, or even months, or years. He was in prison for years.
Along with character development, I am beginning to understand more clearly how temporary this life is, how very short. A mere sliver in eternity. It helps me so much to widen my view, and to think in eternal terms instead of just day-to-day.
Happy 2009 everyone, and here's to thinking of character development with an eternal perspective!
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Here is my New Year's Resolution for the Year 2009. I'm going to be punctual. On time. Now if you know me don't fall of your chair! Ha ha On December 21, 1856, my great-great-grandfather, James Henry Martineau recorded Elder Heber C. Kimball as saying, "Punctuality is integrity."
I'm going to hang that up and take it as my motto this year. I pride myself on being honest, and yet when I am late to things, I am not doing what I say I will do. I want to have integrity - and thus I want to be punctual.
This is going to take some doing on my part. Some real, life-changing doing. I believe it will be a work in progress, and I'll make some mistakes, but I won't quit trying.
In 2008 I made some great changes with finances and diet, so this punctuality issue is the next flaw on the chopping block. The next weakness that is going to be chipped off.
For those of you who haven't read Twilight, you won't understand this, but for those of you who have:
This is really strange, but the mental image I have is that of a Meyeresque Vampire, like Edward, whose core is marble, whose core is impenetrable. I think of temptation as a dart, and my resolve , my resolution, as the stone that Edward is made of. The temptation hits me and I look down while it simply drops to the ground. And I walk away without picking it up. And there is no mark, no spot, no problem.
Bruce says I'm way too hot to be a vampire. :)
Happy New Year!