Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Days Like These...

Gotta love living in southwest lately (with apologies to my Northern readers). Tuesday was an unbelieveably perfect day: clear blue skies and temps in the 60s.

And then there's the bald eagles. Yesterday, I counted 15 of them. There were easily a dozen more that I could not confirm -- my "rule" is that I have to see a mature one with the terrific white plumage in order for it to count.

Time will tell, but there may be two or three eagle pairs nesting in Thomas Hollow. I have seen them soaring over my house three days in a row.

Eagle spotting is somewhat like whale watching. You scan the horizon, hoping to get a glimpse of this elusive species. Often, they appear when you least expect it, or when you are least prepared with the camera. And even when the camera is ready, you instead become mesmerized by their beauty.

I know how lucky I am -- some people have never even seen a bald eagle, and I get to admire them on a near-daily basis.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! I spent the Eve with my sister-in-law's family. It was a lovely evening of laughter, good food and plenty o drink! I paid for it somewhat this morning; note to self: don't drink Amaretto and Coke then switch to spumante!

This morning, Dad and I drove back to Waterloo and spent most of the day with the King family. I opted out of the poker game, deciding to save my money for a swing through the sale at Super Target on Friday!

Tomorrow, I head back south to warmer climes. Have a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jamie

Greetings from snowy Iowa! I'm typing this on my BlackBerry -- yes I know I'm a big nerd.

The drive north was uneventful, as the weather's cooperated so far. It even warmed up to the 20s for my visit.

My dad and I are packing up the truck for the 3-hour trip up to Mankato to celebrate his birthday and Christmas.

I wish all of you Christmas joy, however you are spending the holiday!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hello, Friday!

Happy Friday! I can't believe it's less than a week until Christmas. I've started watching the weather to plan my trip up to Iowa. Right now it looks like Monday is the best day, but that will probably change several times over the weekend.

The Christmas cards have been rolling in. I love seeing the family pictures and reading the "newsletters" people often include with them. I'm hoping that this card tree will be full by next week -- even though I haven't even thought about sending MY Christmas cards out yet!

I just had to share this photo:
I think it's circa 1978 or 1979! Cute, eh?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Counting down to Christmas

Another grey, cold and wet day here in the hollow! Even the dogs are tired of the cold and ice. Tomorrow's forecast calls for 50-degree temperatures. Take note of the Dutch art circle in the lower right-hand corner of my right window. It was a Christmas gift from Joyce last year & is supposed to bring luck in love. It seems to have worked its magic!

Thanks to my handy bottle of Modge Podge, I'm almost finished with my final Christmas project! Once that one's done, all that's left is the wrapping and some baking, and I can relax for the rest of the holiday!

I'm getting excited to hand out gifts -- some lucky folks will get theirs this weekend. I plan to bundle up and head up to the freezing north on either Sunday or Monday, depending on what the weather decides to do. Even though I spent 30 years in Minnesota, I'm cringing at the thought of below-zero temperatures. I know several of my readers are rolling their eyes right now -- sorry y'all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The un-photo blog

No photos today.

If I had been a little bit faster on the draw, I would have had a very neat one of a very realistic Santa walking through a parking garage in Springfield. But alas, I was too slow with the camera phone(or perhaps just mesmerized by his presence?).

The weather here has been cold (for the area, at least), and we are getting some freezing rain. I'm happy to be at home and know that I will be warm at night sandwiched between two snoring dogs.

I finished a fabulous project yesterday, and it's one I'm really excited about. Only two other people know about its existence! I can't share it here, as the recipient is one of my readers! I have one more big project that I plan to finish tomorrow, and then I am done a week early.

After Christmas, I will share photos of Christmas projects. Some of them will be available on the Cottage Studio page at

Monday, December 15, 2008

In the Doghouse

I'm only as good as my word: I said I'd have two blogs today & here I am with the second installation.

Over the weekend, Will and I built a doghouse for Baxter. (OK, so Will did 99% of the work and was the brains behind it.)

This is not going to be just any doghouse, it's a custom-built one made to match my house! I had a ton of leftover cedar shakes from this summer's porch project. Those, plus some old tin for the roof, make a cozy home for Baxter. It's not done yet, as we ran out of time and daylight -- I will post more photos when it is completed!

Catching Up

While I haven't been blogging, I *have* been taking photos!

Here's a catch-up for those of you who have been compulsively checking for updates.

We've had some cold weather sandwiched in between some gorgeous days. It was 67 degrees yesterday...and only 15 and snowing today! But I can't complain, as it is in the negative numbers up north.

Friday, I baked two batches of cookies. Baxter thought the Gingerbread cookies smelled *really* good, but he still didn't get any. They are supposed to be snowflakes, but they look more like flowers. Go figure. I finally found a cookie press at Wal-Mart a few weeks ago -- and it is going to get a lot of use this winter! Since we're having some cold weather today, I want to make another batch, but I'm out of butter. My waistline doesn't need more cookies, so it works out in the end.

Watch for another blog today. I can't wait to share Saturday's photos!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Perfect 10

Getting this in with just two hours to spare.

It's been a great day. I got to spend part of it shopping with one of my favorite people on the planet. And my dad rolled into town for a visit. After a quick trip to Lowe's for some supplies, we met up with Will for dinner.

My dad made friends with Murphy, much to my surprise! She does not like strangers, a fact that she's proved several times already. However, when she finally came out of her hiding spot in the bedroom, Dad bribed her with a treat and she practically crawled into his lap!

Picture of the day: Nothing says Christmas like Santa Claus:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day 9

I'm getting in the groove of this, finally! Despite going to Springfield for an appointment, finishing up some Christmas and craft shopping and then driving home on near-icy roads, I'm blogging -- with photos. Of course, I'm fortified with a cranberry vodka as my reward.

As you can see in the photo at left, I shopped. I think I'm done. Now I just have to finish up some craft-y projects and wrap, ship and give away everything! I love that part of Christmas.

I've been going full-speed-ahead with projects, and my craft area is a disaster. Here's a sneak peek at two of my projects. The photos are obviously cropped so as not to spoil some surprises:

'Til tomorrow. Stay warm!!

Monday, December 8, 2008


Yeah, yeah, I know. I said I was going to do a December Daily, and now I just went 3 days without a photo! As they say in LOLcat world, Epic Fail.
Sometimes, our best intentions just aren't enough to get the job done correctly. {I wonder what the word is under the coupon sticker! Any guesses?}

I had a fabulous weekend & neglected the camera. Besides, most of my Christmas stuff is being kept under wraps, as they are part of Christmas presents.

We've had some nice weather lately, but winter is coming. For now, I'm enjoying the clear skies and warm temperatures.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dreaming of a pink Christmas....

My excuse for not posting yesterday: I was working on a top-secret project & neglected to even pick up the camera.

This post is for Brenda, my fellow pinkaholic. (And the one who so kindly pointed out I didn't post a picture or a blog yesterday!)

My quest for PINK Christmas decorations is finally over. I not only found the perfect pink ornaments at Hobby Lobby yesterday, but they were half-price! And they look pretty cute on my little white, lighted tree. I tried to pose a dog by the tree, but they were pretty uncooperative -- so I will spare you from looking at yet another dog picture today.

I'm subbing for a fifth-grade class at a local school tomorrow -- wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Homemade Holiday

Day 2 of December Daily, and I did not do a good job of taking photos today. There really wasn't anything interesting to snap!

The two-dog household is going really well! The dogs are having a ball. I must say that two dogs farting is not pleasant (although it's nowhere near as gross as my skunk-sprayed car right now), and it's much harder to keep the house clean. But it's worth it in the doubled amount of love I get in exchange!

As you can see, they are getting along famously. Baxter even "lets" Murphy on the couch -- as long as I'm not already in it.

This year, I've gotten in even deeper with handmade holiday projects. I'm branching out beyond the usual handmade Christmas cards and into some new crafts. I just finished my latest project, and since it's not a present intended for someone, I'm posting a photo.

This project was inspired by Ali Edwards. I purchased a box of vintage buttons at a garage sale this past summer, figuring I could use the buttons for a project "someday." Well, that someday was tonight. It took nearly 400 buttons and pins to complete! The photo does not do it justice. I may keep it for myself, or I may add it to the Cottage Studio page on

Monday, December 1, 2008

2 Dogs are Better Than 1

Over the weekend, the dog population at my house has doubled. Baxter & I have welcomed "Murphy," a female chocolate lab, into our household. While it's a temporary situation -- Will is moving and needed a place for her -- it is going to be hard to give her back. She's sweet and mellow, and well-trained. I'm hoping some of this will rub off on Baxter!
As you can see, we've had some snow here in the Ozarks. It's definitely December. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean the local wildlife is all hibernating. Driving home in the ice and snow from Rogers last night, I was happy with the way the new car handled the weather (and happy that I had 10+ years of experience driving in Minnesota winters!)...and then I hit a skunk. Needless to say, my car and my yard absolutely REEK of eau de skunk. A trip to the fancy-schmancy car wash with an undercarriage wash is definitely in order, as well as some industrial-sized air freshener. PU.
Today's December 1. This means two things: putting up Christmas decorations and the beginning of my December Daily album photographs!
PS: Please check out -- the site is slowly becoming fully functional!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Count Your Blessings

Happy Thanksgiving! Here we are again, at the tail end of November. Where does the time go? I must confess that I have had a pleasant distraction over the past few weeks, and the time has flown.

This time of year, it's always nice to take a moment and reflect on the months that have gone by. My friend Brenda has a quote of the day e-mail list & she always sends out a list of what she is thankful for -- and asks her readers to tell her what we are grateful for, as well.

Here's my list:
1-- My family & friends, both near & far. You all are the greatest!
2-- Baxter -- even if he is a rascal sometimes
3-- Good books, Netflix and my crafts (Yea, I am showing my nerdiness)
4-- Ozark Organic Wine. I'm uncorking a bottle today!
5-- The new person in my life. I am so lucky to have met him.

That's my top 5. What's yours?

And I must run -- the bread in the oven is done & there are places to go and people to see!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I had to double-check my calendar, but we haven't celebrated Thanksgiving yet. So WHY did I see so many Christmas lights, trees and displays on my drive home from Oklahoma City last night?

Seriously, folks. It's bad enough that the big-box retailers shove their cheap plastic decorations and Christmas merchandise down our throats the day after Halloween. But for people to string up Christmas lights and set up their Christmas trees in their front windows? And for a city to not only put up their town decorations, but also to light them? It seems to take away the wonder and novelty of the Christmas spirit and fantasy.

Trust me, I love Christmas decorations as much as the next person -- but decorating before we've even set the table for Thanksgiving seems like a cardinal sin. I'm counting the days until I can pack up the few fall/Thanksgiving items I have and pull out the sparkly, glittery, shiny Christmas decorations and decorate. And I'm looking forward to being able to set up my Christmas tree properly this year -- instead of setting it up on a chair so a curious, tiny puppy doesn't try to climb it.

But I'm waiting 'til the Sunday after Thanksgiving to do it. How about you?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where has November gone?

Greetings from Oklahoma City! Since my last post, we've elected our first African-American president, my friend & neighbor Alisen brought baby Roland into the world (he's a cutie pie!), and I've spent almost a week in Oklahoma City.

I'm here for the AQHA World Show, and it's been a great time so far. All of my clients have made the Finals in their respective classes. The Open 2-year-old Western Pleasure shows tomorrow afternoon, and I'm rooting for my friend & client Joetta Bell and "My Ace Is Hot" (aka Deuce) in this tough class. Keep your fingers & toes crossed they do well.

Once that class is over, I plan to hit the road for home. I'm looking forward to being home again -- the holidays are quickly approaching.

I have an ambitious goal for December: doing a daily photo (or more!) for a December Daily album. Check out this link at Studio A if you're interested:

There -- now I've committed to this project & will have to follow through. Hopefully that will carry over to my blog posts. I have a few topics brewing on the back burner.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

History in the making

Here we go! As I write this, the polls in two states have just closed. The long wait to see who makes history as our next President-Vice President duo is officially down to just a few hours.

Here in our little corner of Missouri, we made our way to the voting place -- and found it bustling. Usually, you can walk right in, check in and vote without seeing any of your neighbors. Not this fall: people had to wait for their turn to vote and it was standing room only in the community center. I didn't even fill out my ballot in a private voting booth -- and neither did several other voters. I think we were all too excited to wait for a seat at one of the three booths available!

I rode to the poll with my neighbor Alisen. There, we ran into almost everyone from the hollow at the community center. I don't know if Huxley quite grasps how historic this year's election is -- but I think he will remember it in the years to come.

Who knows where any of us will be four years -- or even four hours -- from now? At this moment in time, I think we were all proud to say we voted -- even if our favored candidate doesn't win tonight.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Are you smarter than a seventh grader?

This fall has been full of new adventures. For the most part, I'm enjoying them!

Last week, I started substitute teaching at a local school district. My first day was subbing for an elementary school class and I loved it. Today, I taught two classes for junior high students. The contrast in the two grades was astonishing. Let's just say that I already went through junior high school once, and that experience was more than enough.

Going in to substitute teaching, I knew that my deafness was going to be an issue somewhere down the road. Let me be blunt here: I don't think kids around here have been exposed to or educated about people who are "different" than they are, and that includes people with disabilities. And you know what? No matter how old I am, and no matter how often I have been singled out, looked at funny, pointed at and made fun of, it still hurts. It never gets easier.

Perhaps experiences like these are why I often choose to live more of a sheltered life, relishing the familiar comforts of home and those I know, as well as creating a business that revolves around the well-being of animals.

That brings me around to my second adventure this fall:! I am in the process of creating a new web site that will feature the unique handcrafted items created by the talented artists in our community. Please visit to check out the beginning stages -- and bookmark the site so you can watch it grow. My goal is to have several merchant pages available by Thanksgiving weekend.

Don't forget to vote tomorrow!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sweet November

Surprise! I'm back. It's been almost a month since my last post. Life kind of took over. Since my last write, I've been to Columbus, Ohio, and Lisle, Illinois, and points in between.

The Congress out in Ohio was a great show for me. I changed my mind about five times as to whether or not I was going. I'm glad I went -- I had more than enough work to keep me busy for the two weeks I was out there. The first week was a little crazy: I was swamped with work Saturday through Tuesday. Then everything went haywire. I got my big toe stomped on by a 1,000-pound client, locked my keys in my car (something I have done with every single vehicle I have ever been in), moved to a cheaper/closer motel and promptly got violently ill with the flu. Everything after that was a breeze!

One of my favorite clients at the Congress won not one but FOUR championships with the two-year-old she trained herself. I'm excited for the World Show that's coming up in a few weeks.

On my way home from Ohio, I made a detour north for a girls' weekend with Brenda. I finally got to meet (and snuggle!) the lovely Sophia. So adorable! She even put up with us sticking her in a giant pumpkin so we could take some pictures. Aren't they two happy girls?

That's my October. It went by super-fast, and now I am scrambling to get my fall projects finished. We are having some fabulous weather, and I plan to take advantage of it this weekend to get my outdoor projects done. See you out there!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This country life...

This has been one of those weeks where I again question my decision to live in the sticks! While we have been having some gorgeous fall weather, I have been missing the "city" aspect of life. And I'm scared I'm slowly becoming a country bumpkin.

Nowhere was it more evident when I took my annual trip to town (JUST KIDDING) for errands on Wednesday. Here's how it went:

*Decided to drive the "back way" to town. Since I bought my new car in June, I haven't been going this way because I don't want to mess my car up. I guess I forgot that the people who drive out there are usually hard core rednecks in pickup trucks who can't tell the difference between the right side of the road and the left. I went home a different way.

*Driving through the town that's listed on my voting card (even though it's further away from my house than three other towns), there's a handmade sign in a residental area that says "Knife Sale." Um, no thanks.

*Unless you drive to Rogers, the most exciting place to shop nearby is the WalMart. At least we have a SuperCenter. I need a Target, Lowes and Barnes & Noble fix. Not to mention Starbucks -- a Pumpkin Spice latte is calling my name.
*I can only use my cell phone when I actually "go to town." Then, I become a texting goddess, catching up with as many friends as I can.

Dear God, have I become a country girl? That's what I asked myself this morning -- as I walked "down the road a ways" to see if I could find a runaway Baxter.

Next Friday, I will get a "vacation" from all this, as I head to Columbus, Ohio, for a two-week work stint. Traffic. Lines. Drive thrus. Whole Foods! Target! Bookstores! Maybe even some new shoes, now that I think about it.

{Footnote for readers who don't know me: I AM being somewhat sarcastic here. I love this beautiful slice of land. It just gets a bit isolated sometimes.}

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another Festive Weekend

Around here, the fun and festivals never seem to end! This past weekend was the 3rd annual Thomas Hollow Art Celebration. The weather was absolutely perfect, we had a few more people this year, and everyone had a good time. I was a bit under the weather and didn't take as many photos as I planned.

The Festival often serves as a once-a-year gathering for some people. It's also camp-out time for some. Some people bring their musical instruments to play around the campfire. Others bring their horses to trail ride for the weekend. This year, we got off to a bit of a rocky start. One of the horses camped out had some sort of a freak accident & had to be put down. Hugs and tears to his dear owner, this has to be a difficult week for her.

On a brighter note, we finally got to meet Jen's cute twin girls. She and her husband were every bit the proud & doting parents. I think there was a line at Bill's woodturning booth -- everyone wanted to hold the cuties and squeeze their cheeks. I wanted to, but didn't want to share my germs.

And the art. We had almost every craft imaginable. From the funky:

Some super-cool paintings, which looked right at home on the barn.

There was also stained glass, sewing, quilting, woodworking, organic wine, aromatherapy/herbal products, crocheting, paper crafts, preserves, photography, woodburning and massage -- and more things that I cannot remember. (Sorry if I left you out!)

Sunday evening a few of us went to Fayetteville for a girls' night out and had a blast. We stayed at Maggie's house, since it is a bad drive to make at night & we had to take Jessica (aka the California Flash) to the airport. She is going to kill me for this, but you could tell that she wasn't really enthusiastic about going home:

Monday morning, we slept in, headed out for coffee and breakfast, then split up. I was driving north on the freeway, eating some sushi rolls and thinking of the day ahead when I looked over and there was Jessica waving at me. Turns out that her flight wasn't until TUESDAY! I guess she just wanted another day in the hollow. It was great having her here & I miss the girl already. I'm hoping to head to California to visit her in the spring.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fun in Winfield

Who would've thought a deaf person would have such fun at a bluegrass festival?

After years of my neighbors talking about Winfield and telling me I needed to attend, I finally decided to go this year. I don't know what took me so long!

This year was the Walnut Valley Festival's 37th year, and it was quite a ride. "Land Rush" was on September 11 -- it's the morning when people literally careen into the campground to claim their spots for the festival. My neighbor George secures the "Comfortable Shoes" camp area in the Pecan Grove at Winfield, and I was excited to camp there this year.

But it wasn't to be: the Walnut (I think!) River flooded over the banks and engulfed the campgrounds and fairgrounds the next day. Campers scrambled to evacuate -- some ended up at WalMart (nice), and others at the Winfield Lake.

The Lake turned out to be THE place to be this year -- Stage 5 and 7, usually in the Pecan Grove, moved out there, along with thousands of campers. And I mean thousands -- tents mushroomed up everywhere as the weekend progressed.

I arrived Tuesday evening, ready to camp and party. And party I did, as people picked music, visited and partied. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning for five nights straight. And I only fell down once!

There are pictures. I didn't take any -- but will share a few that others took if they are parent-safe.

I got to meet Linda Tilton, who has been interpreting at the Festival for more than 20 years. It was SO nice to be able to sit and watch a performance and simply absorb the music instead of straining to lipread the singers.

Shannon Wurst and 3 Penny Acre were part of the Comfortable Shoes camp, and both Shannon and two members of the band won (different) categories in the Best New Song contest. Kate Baer, my favorite jewelry designer, won the Arts & Crafts section.

So many stories. I'm planning to go again next year -- it'll take me a while to recover from this one, though!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Slept through the whole thing...

If there's one advantage to being deaf, it's that I can sleep through almost any storm. (Um, that might be a hazard!)

Apparently, Ike's deluge went over the hollow around 5 or 6 this morning. I had two fearless but tired pups in bed with me & they didn't wake me up, so it must not have been that bad. Despite staying up late for SNL last night (Tina Fey was dead-on with her Palin impression. I almost fell off the couch laughing.), I woke up at 6:45, looked out the window and thought: hey! it isn't even raining.

At least, not then. We were all shocked when we went to the front door to go potty (the DOGS, people, the dogs!) and saw that the creek was over the banks and flowing through the hollow road.

If anyone sees a plastic green Adirondack chair floating down Mike's creek -- it's mine & I want it back.

And if you were coming to my house for dinner tonight, you might wanna rethink those plans.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Music Within

No, this isn't a blog waxing philosophical about how we all need to find that music within. I'm waiting to see how the AMA Flattrack race turns out in Indianapolis tonight -- hoping they will actually get to race despite the weather!

The other night, I Netflixed the movie "The Music Within," and it was really good. In a nutshell, it's about a guy who loses his hearing in Vietnam and his resulting struggles led him to become an activist and be a driving force in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

I was mainly interested in this movie because it portrayed someone who lost his hearing. However, he was actually "just" hard of hearing & could hear well enough to talk on the phone. Yes, I know, I am being harsh but whatever (I'm perhaps just jealous his loss seems insignificant compared to mine).

Anyhow. It's a good movie, one I recommend everyone watch because it will indeed give you an inside perspective on a disabled person's life. There are so many different levels of disabilities & each affects a person differently. This film will probably make you think a little about the labels and unconscious judgments we put on others.

Still waiting on those race results. Kenny Coolbeth has locked in the #1 title for the 2008 season regardless of how this race goes, but I still want to see his name up on the podium!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Po-tay-to, Pah-ta-toh

Yea, right. You bet. No problem. I STILL say these Minnesota two-word sentences on a near-daily basis. I seem to have hung on to my Minnesota twang -- which is better than Redneck-speak, right?

A few weeks ago I was talking with Alisen about how hard it is for some people to understand certain things I say. For example: ordering drinks at a bar! I absolutely cannot order either a Rolling Rock or a vodka sour. Bartenders don't get the first one -- even with copious hand gestures. The second -- I somehow end up with a COKE and vodka. Huh!? WTF? (For the record, they aren't too bad, but are better if it's vanilla vodka.)

My second issue is with the word "BAG." Three letters...shouldn't be so hard to pronounce, right? Well, it turns out I'm saying it with a long 'a' as heard in the word "space": BAAYG) instead of a soft 'a' (as in "rat": BAHG). Huh.

Here's the scenario: I'm on the road and need a BAAYG of ice. Of course, I pick a gas station that has the ice chest outside, so you have to ask the cashier for a BAAYG of ICE.
Me: "I also need a BAAYG of ice."
Cashier: (blank look, as if I am speaking tongues or a foreign language)
Me: "You know, ice. Frozen water?" (pointing outside for effect)
Cashier: (still freaking confused)
Me: "Ice. A BAAYG of ice."
Cashier: "Ohhh yeah. Okay." (gives me a weird look)

So after that conversation, I asked for a BAHG of ice the next time. Worked like a charm. Thanks, Al!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I am alive! I've just been a slacker when it comes to blogging lately. It's been busy here in the hollow lately. The weather's turning toward fall & I love it. We've had quite a bit of rain (as my roof can testify, unfortunately).

I spent Labor Day weekend in Springfield, Illinois, at the AMA Flattrack races with my Dad. It was awesome! They held the Mile on both Sunday & Monday (Monday's race was to make up for the rained-out Memorial Day weekend event). both races were nail-biters all the way to the finish. Kenny (Coolbeth) won Sunday's race and was thisclose to beating Carr again on Monday.

I'm a lucky girl: I get to be in the pits for these races. Gotta love it!

This past week has been all about preparing for two upcoming festivals: the Walnut Valley Festival (or simply: Winfield) and the Thomas Hollow Art Celebration. I'm super-excited about both.

I'm also cow- and dog-sitting for my mom, who's out of town on another adventure. We have three cows due to calve -- but no babies yet. In fact, it's the pup that is turning out to be more of a pain -- he keeps coming over to my house, which is more than a mile away! Right now, he's at my house for the evening -- so I have two sets of brown eyes on me. It's some much-needed adoration.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Confessions of a sheet snob

Hey from Tulsa -- again! I'm back in the deadliest city in Oklahoma for another horse show. In the goal of saving some cash, I tried booking a hotel north of the fairgrounds, and it backfired on me. Driving to check in to the hotel, I started to see that I wasn't in the best neighborhood. I drove past the hotel -- and kept going! Thankfully, I was able to find another hotel in a better area for a little bit more money. And my reliable big brother once again played travel secretary for me, cancelling the icky motel reservation. (That reminds me: I still have to blog about the Boston cab experience.)

Who would think that Tulsa is a scary city? It is. Tulsa's murder, rape & assault rates are twice the national average -- and higher than in Oklahoma City! Not exactly an ideal vacation spot. So, you can understand why I went with my gut about the safety of my hotel. My life and peace of mind are worth another $15-20 per night, don't you think?

And that brings me to my confession: I am a sheet snob. I would love to know WHY so many hotel beds are made with flat sheets instead of fitted sheets. Seriously. I can't stand having to get up in the middle of the night and re-making the bed. It's a big pet peeve of mine -- please tell me I'm not the only one who doesn't get this?
It also bugs me when they don't get rid of the threadbare sheets. Really, how much does a new white sheet set actually set the hotel back?

Yeah, I know, major problems. :)

I'm leaving you with a quote that I saw on a church sign in rural Oklahoma:
"Don't be open-minded -- your brain will fall out."
Seriously. I swear to God.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lazy Saturday

I have never been so glad to be at home with no plans on a Saturday! I was in Tulsa most of the week "working" at a horse show. I use the word working lightly, as it did not go so hot as far as the number of clients. Oh well. I have to go back on Tuesday for a few days -- hopefully it will be busier.

We are having some fabulously cool August weather -- it's in the 70s. I love it. Today's only plan is to go next door to Alisen & Caleb's garden and harvest whatever is ready to eat. I have plans to make a yummy, fresh pizza for dinner. And if the muse hits, I may do some writing to flesh out an idea I had for a book.

I have an extra dog in the house this morning. Rowdy, my mom's heeler, decided to come over for an unauthorized visit. I know he was lonely, as our dear Rocky is gone, and haven't the heart to punish him this once. The boys have been uncharacteristically quiet, and I know they miss the old boy. It has not been a good year for pets in this family.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Smooth Moves

There's nothing like a perfectly blended fruit smoothie to end the day. With the abundance of fresh fruit, I could live on these. My favorite: blackberries, peaches, yogurt and a little flaxseed. Yum.

I went on a quick trail ride this morning and got home just before the skies opened up and gave us some much-needed rain. I had an outdoor project planned -- to take advantage of the cooler weather -- but postponed it yet again. Instead, I worked on a new business idea I have and cleaned up my bedroom. It's still the only room downstairs I haven't painted. I was thinking of a chocolate brown & soft pink, but now am leaning toward the chocolate with a slate blue. I can't make up my mind. Whatever color I end up with, it definitely won't be as dramatic as the bathroom.

My biggest disappointment of the day was the Favre-Jets deal. Call me a traitor, a dreamer or whatever, but I was still holding out hope he'd go to the Vikings. We may end up with what's-his-name Pennington, who was released from the Jets. It looks like another typical Purple season -- and they are still in training camp in Mankato.

Looking forward to the weekend. Hopefully, I'll have something more exciting to blog about than smoothies & paint colors.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Road Conditions

One of my least-favorite things about living in "the hollow" are the road conditions. Potholes big enough to house a family of four. Rednecks who drive too fast on the wrong side of the road. A lack of maintenance by the road department.

{Of course, I should point out that we are lucky: there's usually very little traffic, it's a gorgeous setting -- especially in the summer with the shady canopies created by the trees.}

No. 1 on the list of Thomas Hollow complaints has been a big dip in the road that's been there since March or April. And I'm not exaggerating -- it's like a giant reverse speed bump. When we had all that flooding this spring, a culvert was washed out by my house. The road grader stopped by a day or so later and pulled out the big steel pipe that lets the water run under the road (vs. over it). He set it by the side of the road, and that was the sum of the repairs.

And so it's been painful to watch out my kitchen window as people navigate their way through! Some are unfamiliar with the road and are going way too fast, risking breaking an axle. The UPS and FedEx drivers don't really care if they wreck their vehicles. And people pulling trailers for construction work or transporting cattle have to crawl through the dip, dragging their trailer through.

Finally, yesterday, relief! The road department came out and -- in the span of just a few hours -- fixed the culvert. No more dip in the road. It only took a few months to get 'er done.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Time flies

So Alisen brought it to my attention today that I haven't blogged in almost a week. It's not like I have the excuse of being busy (unless you count staying cool?) or out of town. I just haven't been motivated to sit at the computer and type!

It's been in the mid-high 90s the past few days. The only relief is to stay in the air conditioning or in the water. I've been staying occupied cleaning the house & rearranging some furniture. I moved my desk to create a cozy little reading nook, complete with a cowhide on the floor and a hand-me-down recliner in the corner.

But enough of that. I had a fabulous weekend! Saturday night was the first "Farm to Table" dinner event, created & hosted by the Wardlaw clan. It was quite a treat -- delicious food in a beautiful setting with great people. We feasted on foods made from local produce & meat: homemade bread, tomato-cucumber gazpacho, fresh green beans & baby potatoes, sweet corn on the cob, Jamaican rub chicken, deviled eggs and fresh-from-the-oven peach cobbler. I think I ate a week's worth of calories in that one sitting.

After stuffing ourselves, we were treated to a movie under the stars, literally. They had a movie screen & projector set up, so we watched "Ratatouille" as the fireflies came out. And -- as is tradition at Thomas Hollow parties -- people gathered around the fire pit to play music. I can't wait for the next dinner!

Sunday, I spent most of the day lounging in the water at the Blue Hole. It was a great way to end the weekend (thanks, Brandi, for inviting me along!).

That's the blog. Nothing super-exciting, which is fine by me, as the next couple of months are going to be busy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some like it hot...

But not me. It's hot. 94 F plus the humidity. Oh, the humidity. Even the dog wants to stay inside; as I write this, he's napping on the couch. We venture out in the morning and evenings to do yardwork; the mosquitoes here are not worth mentioning when you compare them to the gigantic ones in Minnesota!

It's a good week for local work on the horses. I've already worked on four horses and have three more later this week. I was supposed to go to the Buckskin World Show out in Tulsa this week, but did not have enough clients lined up, so I scratched that one. I do have an appointment on Thursday that I'm excited about -- I'm meeting an Arkansas vet and doing a massage demo. I'm hoping this will help me get more local clients.

I'm on a roll with indoor projects. Doing a major housecleaning, trying to reduce the amount of unnecessary junk that seems to have accumulated. Listing some items on Ebay (gotta finish paying for that car!). And I'm going full speed ahead on projects for the Art Festival, which is only two months away. I have four handmade journals/scrapbooks finished, as well as several other "secret" projects.

Monday, July 28, 2008

More Vacation Photos

Going through the 200 or so vacation photos - it's hard to choose just a few! A couple of my favorites from Maine and Boston:

This one was shot on a beach south of Portland. I'm going to enlarge & frame it!

The Portland Head Lighthouse. Funny: the foghorn was going off right next to us. I didn't hear or feel a thing.

The Portland Head Lighthouse, from another perspective.

I loved the mix of old & new in Boston. The old buildings look right at home -- it's the sparkly new ones that look out of place.

I learned a lot about Boston's history on my trolley tour (I would have done the walking tours but I only had about 6 hours!) For instance, there are cemeteries in the midst of the city that date back to the 1600s and 1700s. Very cool -- and yes, I know, I am morbid.

Trinity Church, dwarfed by the John Hancock Tower. This church was gorgeous! I wish I'd had time to go inside.

That's all folks. I highly recommend going to Boston to do some sightseeing if you ever get the opportunity. I'm glad I did it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Welcome to the world, baby girl!

Congrats to Brenda & Bobby, who are the super-proud parents of Sophia Ellen Overton. I'm so excited for them & can't wait to meet the new addition.

Yes, I am home from my East Coast trip. I've been slacking off on blogging as I settled back home. I promise to be a more conscientious blogger, as I know some of you check my page often to see what my latest adventure is.

It's been a busy week, getting back into the swing of things. I'm working on some handmade journals for the September Art Festival & I'm excited about how they are turning out. I've also worked on a couple of horses this week and have a contact who is putting in a good word with an equine vet in Arkansas. Hopefully that will create some more local work for me.

Have a great day!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lakes, Ice cream, fresh produce & lobster...a photo blog

So far, we've seen Lake Erie:

Discovered the true meaning of "Peace, Love and Ice Cream":

Picked out -- and ate -- fresh lobster, courtesy of Joyce's mom:

So far, it's been a delicious vacation! Tomorrow, we may head to the Portland area and take a ferry over to Peak's Island. Can't wait!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


We made it to our destination late Wednesday pm! After a yummy stop at Ben & Jerry's in Vermont, we booked it for Lewiston. Liam was pretty excited about getting to his Gramma and Grampa's, and it would have broken the kid's heart if we'd stopped!

We spent Thursday enjoying the perfect weather -- spent time in the backyard pool & then had a delicious lobster boil for lunch. I could get used to this. Joyce & her mom have plans to show me the Maine coast, including a day trip to Peak Island. I can't wait -- love the ocean.

I STILL have to upload photos, and I have some cool, geeky ones to show. I got sidetracked, big-time: woke up about 4 a.m. Thursday with the flu. It's now Saturday evening & I am just starting to feel like I belong among the living. Getting sick on vacation sucks.

'Til next time. I'm going to try some Moxie tonight. Goodness knows, I need more of that.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New York, New York....

Greetings from northwestern New York! We put the pedal to the metal today and made it over the Pennsylvania border & into New York. We're "roughing it" tonight in a cabin at a KOA campground that's about 400 yards away from Lake Erie. It's supposed to rain all night, so we decided not to chance getting soaked. With showers, AC and free wireless Internet, it's not really camping, but I am enjoying the fresh air as I type this.

As the trip goes on, I am creating a "Things I Learned" list, much to Joyce's chagrin. Once it reaches 10, I will post the complete list. I'm pretty sure Joyce will find some way to get back at me -- the list so far only has two items and they both relate to her.

Tomorrow's itinerary is to get through New York, Vermont and New Hampshire, and arrive at Joyce's parents' house late in the evening. We do plan a pit stop at the Ben & Jerry's factory. I'm drooling thinking about the ice cream!

That's it for today. I was going to post some photos from Lake Erie, but I'm too tired/lazy to do it today. Plus, I'm STILL waiting to hear from Brenda's hubby about Baby Overton.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Maine or Bust!

Greetings from Indiana! I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July. My weekend turned out to be pretty interesting.

I am now on the road to Maine with Joyce and her two kids. We left bright & early this morning and are now in the Eastern Time Zone, still about 1,000 miles from our destination. We had one emergency potty break, and the most excitement we had was seeing Eddie Murphy.

Seriously. There was a van decked out with logos promoting the upcoming "Meet Dave" movie and it had a trailer with a larger-than-life model of Eddie Murphy's head. We waited & watched, but no other body parts came down the freeway. Talk about movie trailers!

Tomorrow, our goal is to make it to the Pennsylvania state line and camp somewhere. Wednesday we will begin acting more like tourists -- we plan to drive through the Adirondack mountain range and then on into Vermont.
I will try to blog (with photos) as the trip evolves.
Til next time! Lisa

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

2000 miles later...

I can't believe it's been more than two weeks since I last posted a blog! My excuse is that I was on the road & having too much fun to be online very much.

The new car is working out fantastic! Pumping gas is virtually painless now. I'm averaging 32-34 mpg, which is more than DOUBLE what I got when driving the other gas-guzzlers. I love it and definitely don't have any buyer's remorse.

On June 19, I hit the road for Chicago to see my girl Brenda.

She is having a baby -- sooner, rather than later -- so it was great to see her before she adds to her family. She and her hubby Bobby are so cute:

As of today, she's scheduled to give birth on July 8 -- a whopping two weeks earlier than planned! I wish her & Bob the best of luck with the delivery & can't wait to meet the newest Overton.

While Brenda was at work on Monday the 23rd, I went on an adventure to Chicago. Brenda lives in the cool 'burbs of Chicago, a hop & skip from the Metra commuter train. I took that to Union Station downtown, then got on the El and went to explore the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Of course I forgot my camera -- so no pics of the cool architecture. After exploring Lincoln Park, I got back on the El and went back downtown to walk up and down Michigan Avenue. I definitely got my city (and coffee and shopping) fix -- and I'm somewhat proud to report that I didn't get lost once.

After I wore out my welcome (actually, it was Baxter who wore out his welcome!), it was off to Michigan to work at the Tom Powers Futurity. This was a great show for me, business-wise. You would not know that diesel is the price it is if you attended this show -- it was bigger and better than ever. One of my clients was a reserve champion in one of the prestigious 2-year-old futurity classes.

And now I am home, balancing the checkbook, catching up with friends & sleep. And (you knew this was coming, right?) getting read for the next round of travel. Next up is Maine. With two women, two kids and 1600 miles of road, it should be interesting. I promise to be a responsible blogger.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day, daddy.
I am thinking of you this morning & I miss having you around here. (And not just because my roof is leaking!)
Love, Lisa

Monday, June 9, 2008

RIP, Sophie

I lost another pet today.

Sophie, the super kitty, was only 4. She was a sweetheart, loved to snuggle, eat, play outside, and chase Kona. She didn't like rain or Baxter. Now she's up at the Rainbow Bridge, playing with Kona again.

I returned to Oklahoma City to find her on my outdoor patio & in bad shape. I brought her inside, out of the heat & humidity, tried to get her to eat or drink something, anything. No go.

It turned out to be Bobcat Fever, which is incurable.

So, sweet dreams, Sophie.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Yes, Officer....

I wish I could say today's trip to OKC was uneventful, but there was one little incident involving the Oklahoma State Highway Patrol.

No, Dad, I wasn't speeding. In fact, I was going 64 in a 75, trying to save a couple bucks on the diesel bill.

Here's the deal. Months ago, the nifty plastic frame "thingy" that displays the truck license fell off. Since the Ford truck is a farm vehicle, there is only one license plate, which goes on the front of the truck (incidentally, in Oklahoma, they only have to display license plates on the back of the vehicles!). Since I rarely drive the truck anymore, I haven't thought about the missing license plate before now.

Today, however, I put a LOT of thought into it! I was driving the turnpike between Tulsa and Oklahoma City -- I even passed a few people who were going much slower than I was! A trooper passed me, and I didn't think anything of it. Then he slowed down after he got in front of me, put on his lights and motioned me to the side of the turnpike. Hey, at least I knew it wasn't for speeding!

We had a nice little chat, I let him know I was deaf, and handed over my license. After letting me squirm for a good ten minutes, he came back with a warning. Now I have to figure out a way to MacGyver something up to put the stupid thing back ON the front of the truck for the trip home. It would be just my luck to get stopped again on the way back.

So there you go -- the story of my very first written warning.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

On the Road Again

I'm headed to Oklahoma City Monday morning. This one will be a good show for me. Despite the heart attack-inducing prices of diesel, I should make a decent profit if all goes well. I have a few new clients and a lot of returning business.

I found my new (old) car! Hopefully it will still be on the lot when I get back from this latest trip. Although it would have been nice to have it sooner rather than later, I wanted to "sleep on it" and do some research. I can't wait -- with 35mpg, travel is going to feel so cheap. Not to mention the cost of oil changes, tires, insurance and freedom!

See you on the road somewhere.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


Anyone want a 7-month-old lunatic? Baxter is reaching the terrible teens, and no amount of exercise is going to resolve it -- only time & discipline. We had a fabulous time at Creekside yesterday with Joyce and the kidlets. Baxter played fetch with Liam, swam, made buddies with a Golden, and herded Jonah. I was so proud.

Then we went home and Baxter ran away from home with one of the neighbor's dogs while I was weed whipping. While he DID come back after I walked up the road yelling for him, he is grounded. No yard freedom unless I can give him my full attention.

But that's not the end of our evening adventures. No, Ma'am. In bed reading late at night, fans going & all the windows was hot, but not hot enough for the AC. Something must have been on the porch, because Baxter went all Kung Fu Panda and took off -- ripping the screen from the bottom corner. When he came back, he was relegated to his kennel for the night.

Thank goodness for Duct Tape.
So far: Baxter 2, House 0. (1 gigantic hole in a King size foam mattress, 1 ripped patio screen)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pit Stop

Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend! Mine got rained on, but it was still a good trip. I made it to Springfield in time to watch the TT Short Track races from the pits (thanks, Dad!) on Friday night.

Then it rained. And rained. They postponed the Mile to Monday, then cancelled it Monday morning. Hopefully the Labor Day weekend weather will be gorgeous -- they are going to try to run TWO Mile races that weekend! I already have a hotel room for me and Baxter. Hopefully gas won't be an unmentionable price by then.

I am home for a few more days and enjoying it. I am on a kick to promote the massage a bit more, which means re-working my brochures and fliers. I'm writing articles for a fabulous new web site,, which will hopefully translate into more business. Then it's off to Oklahoma City on Monday. Wish me luck!

It's strawberry season here in Missouri. Joyce and I went picking yesterday, taking advantage of the cool weather. Now I have to figure out what to do with all these berries (besides eating them until I have a stomachache)!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Here comes summer!

My "Lisa & Baxter US Tour" offically begins for me tomorrow! We are off to St. Louis to work at a horse show for a few days, then head up to Springfield, Illinois, to watch the Springfield Mile flattrack race. (More on that in another blog.)

I can't wait. It is high time to take a break from life in the hollow. Harley, my 4-year-old QH gelding, was officially sold today (I sure hope I didn't just jinx it AGAIN). I had mixed feelings about that sale -- he is a nice horse, but I just don't have the time or funding to ride/pay for two horses. Plus, he has a great new home and owner & I think he is going to get spoiled with attention and treats.

Alisen and Huxley have been gone two weeks already. I miss them, but know they are having a ball on their tour of the West Coast.

See you on the road!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bird Dog

So, RIP baby birdies.... Baxter caught and crunched on the mama bird the other night. I neglected to warn my Dad about the bird nest at the front door (even though he reads this blog!), and the bird flew in the house. End of that one.

It's a mellow weekend here. As I write this, we are under a tornado watch, but seem to be on the south end of the storm front. I have to admit that I freaked out a little bit and went over to the neighbor's for a few minutes. False alarm.

Even though I don't have a basement to cower in, I have to confess that I would not be heartbroken if a tornado damaged my kitchen and bathroom LOL.

I am starting to count down the days until I hit the road. I head to St. Louis May 21 to work at a show for a few days. It's shaping up to be a great show, and I am so ready to get out of the hollow for a while.

Monday, May 5, 2008

For the Birds

Taking a break from Baxter's rigorous "Ultimate Frisbee Championship" training....
My yard is going to the birds this spring. It all started with a rather simple birdfeeder and some birdseed. That simple setup has morphed into some cool birds at the feeder, a couple weekend purchases of wacky yard ornaments, and the realization that I'm probably going to have to start buying birdseed or sunflower seeds in bulk if I want to keep up with the birds. Whoever came up with "eats like a bird" (or whatever that saying is) didn't have a clue.

I've had some indigo buntings at the feeder gorging themselves:
I've also spotted some goldfinches, a wren, and the omnipresent sparrows.

Over the weekend's craft fair and garage sale expeditions, I got two new items for the yard:
The metal flower is a suet feeder. The chicken is metal also -- the easiest rooster ever, guaranteed not to attack little kids. (He looks right at home in the hollyhocks!)

I also have a bird nest right at my front door. The babies hatched sometime in the last few days, and today I peeked in the nest and took a few pictures. They aren't really photo-friendly just yet, but are cute nonetheless.