Recent Entries to this Blog Annual Christmas letter response
Posted: 23 Dec 2018
Small town hair salons
Posted: 30 Jun 2018
We're magnets for the weird
Posted: 25 Mar 2018
Third world living
Posted: 18 Sep 2017
Exercise machine
Posted: 03 Jan 2017

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marlingardener's Blog

Farm living and laughing


Annual Christmas letter response

Category: Serendipity | Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:47 pm

The only thing I don't like about Christmas is receiving 2 1/2 page letters from folks we haven't seen nor heard from in a year. If I find a Christmas card that has the message "I don't care" I'll buy a box of those.
Each year I threaten to write my own letter, and my husband keeps me away from the post box until I calm down.
But, here is what I would like to write:

Dear occupant/close friend/relative,
We are doing fine now that the plague has subsided. We still have side effects like crawling instead of walking, and howling at the moon upon occasion.

Financially, we are still above water. We find that living off the land and eating out of hub caps saves a lot of money. Thank heavens for road kill!

Our family continues to be outstanding. Our nephew Rimshot made his first soccer goal this season, and considering that he is only 18 and has played soccer since he was seven, we're pretty darn proud.
Sunbeam is out of jail and starting a new career. Her job seems to involve standing on street corners, but at least she's getting a lot of fresh air.
And of course we wouldn't want to forget Grandpa John. Since we found his dentures he has been putting on weight and spitting a lot less. Sometimes blessings come in plastic.

We wish you all the same blessed and prosperous year we enjoyed in 2018, and if you want to visit our GoFundMe page, just call and we'll give you the link.


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Small town hair salons

Category: Serendipity | Posted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 5:55 pm

I love small town hair salons. You know your stylist's name, she knows you, your pets, your interests. You know the name of her kids, their progress in school, her pets names, and what her preferences are in bread and cookies.

The salon I go to has a sofa and coffee table for waiting in comfort. The table usually has a bag or two of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, beans, etc. from clients' gardens. Free for the taking--just help yourself! One of the ladies makes the most marvelous refrigerator pickles, and sets jars out for folks to take home and enjoy.

I take extra eggs in once a week, and ladies bring egg cartons for me to re-use. They are also very careful to return any plastic containers that had soup, marinara sauce, any frozen goody, and have even purchased and given me small containers for herb butters.

A small town hair salon is more than a place to get a cut and set. It's a place to connect with other ladies, exchange recipes, news (not gossip!) and just feel welcome and happy!


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Exercise machine

Category: Serendipity | Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2017 7:16 pm

My husband decided we needed to exercise more. We live on a farm, how much more exercise do we need?

However, he ordered a "cardio something or other machine" which gave him a really good workout assembling the thing. After he got it put together, we found that the difficulty adjustments were stuck on six, the most difficult. His vocabulary and heart rate increased as he got the thing adjusted so we could actually walk, pedal and not pass out.

We can walk, or choose to sit on a totally too small seat and pedal. There is a little screen that tells you how fast you are walking/pedaling. Thank you--I'm gasping and don't care that I'm just one step up from "coasting".

I got on the thing (hereafter referred to as "the devil's delight) and decided there were a couple of amenities lacking. There is no snack tray, and no place to attach one. Also, the cup holder is missing. I contacted the manufacturer about adding this features. I haven't heard back from them yet.

There was a cute DVD that came with the devil's delight, showing you how to use it. The two ladies and the one gentleman on the DVD were obviously very fit and must have been in a sub-artic studio while filming because no one was sweating. I perspire just looking at the machine.

The DVD suggested that you start out slowly and build up. The suggestion was three days a week on the devil's delight. My suggestion is that you stand next to it for 10 minutes, and consider if you really want to do this. I do not.

However, my husband is so thrilled with the thought of both of us becoming so fit that I can't disappoint him. If you don't hear from me for a while, it may be that instead of standing beside the devil's delight I actually got on the thing and can't figure how to get off!

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A Cane is a Useful Thing

Category: Serendipity | Posted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 3:17 pm

A few days ago I pulled a muscle in my back, and started to use a cane to keep me from whimpering each time I went up or down stairs.
In addition to the pain relief, I found other uses for a good, sturdy cane.
First, a cane gets you sympathy. "Oh, let me open the door for you" or "Let me lift that" or (and this from my husband) "I'll load/unload the dishwasher, make the bed, and how would you like take-out for lunch?".
Secondly, a cane comes in real handy when faced with stray dogs and obstreperous children. You don't have to actually hit the dog or brat, just wave the cane about a bit and they get the idea.
And then,it is a fashion statement of a sort. We had a big mesquite tree come down a few years ago, and my husband made a few canes from some of the more interesting branches. People have asked me where I got that unique cane--there may be a cottage industry brewing here.
I healed and am cane-less, but I may start carrying one just in case I want sympathy, help, or attention!

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I hate my phone!

Category: Serendipity | Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 7:17 pm

I hate my cell phone. When my husband convinced me (made dire threats) that we needed cell phones, I finally agreed. The provider gave us phones. Mine was red; I could make and receive calls; and it had a voice mail feature. Okay, I can handle this.

Then the provider "upgraded" their service (otherwise known as making customers crazy). I no longer could use my simple red phone. I now have a black one, and the color is very appropriate. The manual explaining the use of this tool from Hades folds out like an accordion, and has all sorts of information, except how to answer or send a call.

The phone is hard to open. The red phone I could just flip, this beast needs two hands to open. My red phone had a button with "call" that was pressed after entering the number, and had an "ans" button to answer incoming calls. The voice mail (more about this later) had a button, and there was also a button for perusing the address book (why is it called an address book when the people don't live there, it's just their phone number!). After a month or two I could actually use the thing.

The black phone from the nether regions has colorful little horse shoes. The upside down horseshoe in green is to be pressed after you enter the number you are calling. The right side up horseshoe (also green) is to answer incoming calls. I have yet to figure out how to access (I even know the lingo, I just can't figure out how to use it!) the "voice mail." In addition, there is a big black block smack dab in the center of the thing that undoubtedly does something. If it blows the phone to smithereens, I'll use it!

About "voice mail." Our mail comes to our rural mail box by the road, delivered by a very nice postal employee whom we provide with garden vegetables, fresh bread, and cookies. The postal employee brings our packages to our door and rings the doorbell, makes sure the mailbox door is firmly shut during bad weather, and if the previous day's mail hasn't been picked up, checks to make sure we are all right. That is mail--on paper, delivered, and perused.

"Voice" is oral. It is not mail, it is, at best, a conversation or request. At worst it's some telemarketer who doesn't understand the "no-call" list, or doesn't care. By the time I take the phone to my husband who understands which horseshoe to press to get the mail, I've lost interest.

Bless him, he is patient and explains the various non-labeled, light-up things on the phone, but there are too many of them (I don't want a camera, I don't want to text, and I sure don't want to link to Facebook or Twitter.)

Please understand, I am not a complete Luddite. I think electric lights, air conditioning, and frozen pizzas are wonderful. I just hate my complicated phone that has features I never wanted and doesn't properly label the ones I do want to use.

I've been practicing my smoke signal skills. It worked for the Crees, it will work for me!

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Funeral Ladies

Category: Serendipity | Posted: Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:59 pm

It may be a small town phenomenon, or it may be a Southern custom, but we have funeral ladies.

A group of ladies, usually of "a certain age" attend funerals. A few years ago a member of the congregation of the church we attended passed away. I recognized many of the people there, but there was a group of ladies sitting together that I hadn't seen before. Perhaps they were members the deceased shared a club or lunch date with?

Then, a couple of years later, a dear friend who lived down the road passed over. We were surprised to see the same group of ladies at the funeral. However, the widow was a member of several clubs and also volunteered at schools, senior citizen center, etc. so we thought that was why the ladies were attending - to support the widow.

Then a new member of the congregation (are you getting the idea that the average age of a congregant was "up there"?) went to the Lord and the same ladies were at the funeral. Now the deceased had been seriously ill for a while, and both he and his wife were pretty much house-bound with his inability to do much and her caring for him, so I couldn't figure out how these ladies knew the bereaved family.

I finally broke down and asked a friend about the six or seven ladies I kept seeing at funerals. "Oh, those are the funeral ladies. They attend almost every funeral so that there will be a good 'showing' of mourners", I was told. It seems that they get together, dressed appropriately in somber colors and subdued jewelry but with their hair freshly done; one is the designated driver (whoever has a big enough vehicle to accommodate them all); and they attend a funeral. They say the appropriate things to the family, sign the guest book, and go to the post-funeral refreshments. They sip tea (hot or cold), have a cookie, discuss the genealogy of the deceased's family (I think his second cousin married the niece of so-and-so which makes them related on the mother's side) and generally bump up the attendance.

The funeral ladies are non-denominational, and do not discriminate on social or economic standing. Their attendance at any and every funeral is kind of like a community service. If the most hated person in town dies, they will be there. They know the quickest route to every cemetery, can tell you which florist doesn't skimp on the flowers, and offer words of condolence to each member of the family (even the ones who flew in from Detroit and haven't seen the deceased in 20 years - it's the thought that counts).

And have you noticed the euphemisms for "died"? That may be a Southern thing, too.



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Vacations

Category: Serendipity | Posted: Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:09 pm

My husband and I have had some wonderful vacations, and most of them involved a strange encounter with local life.

It all started with our honeymoon. We were fairly impoverished, so we went to Canada for a week. The first night we stayed at a hotel that had live music--right under our bedroom. We referred to our room as the "boom boom" room since we could actually feel the vibrations of the drums and bass guitars.

Then we went to a "resort" called Turkey Point. That should have been an indication of things to come, but we were young and inexperienced. There was a small lake which had wildlife in it and a small tour boat. The wildlife included seals (not native to the area, but cute). We were the last ones on the boat, and I was seated where the fish bucket was usually kept. The seals were used to getting fish from the boat, and one jumped up and bit my arm, which obviously resembled a fish. The nurse at the nearby hospital commented, "Oh, look, you can see his little teeth marks!" Well, yes dear, that is why we are here--I WAS BITTEN BY A SEAL!

I won't mention the joy my husband's severe sunburn added to our honeymoon.

When we were older but no wiser, we went to Pennsylvania for a vacation. When we visited the State House and saw a tile depicting a house fly, we should have caught on. We were having lunch at a diner, and the lady in back of us was armed with a fly swatter which she wielded with great efficiency, showering our table with dead and wounded flies. We skipped the offer of bread pudding with raisins for dessert.

Then, when we became more affluent and needed desperately to get away from upstate NY winters, we went to the Caribbean. Bonaire is a delightful island--great people, nice restaurants, great snorkeling, and the occasional invasion by the Dutch army.

We were in Bonaire during Carnival immediately preceding Lent. We woke up one night to the sound of what we thought was fireworks. We looked at each other, said some poor fool doesn't know that Carnival is over, and is setting off the last of his firecrackers. We went back to sleep.

However, it seems that the Dutch army had scheduled a training exercise. They were to "pretend attack" the airport. They hadn't planned on the airport personnel shutting down and turning off all the lights so they could go home and watch the latest episode of Simon and Simon on the TV. Seeing lights from their offshore boats, the army attacked the hotel where we were staying. When we got up in the morning we dressed and went into town to have breakfast. We saw several blond men in fatigues on the street, and some were under park benches holding big guns, but we figured if the locals weren't worried, why should we be?

When we got back to the hotel, there was a very apologetic letter from a colonel, who would be in the lobby all day trying to calm down the tourists. We went snorkeling. On the way to one of our favorite spots we saw blond guys up trees, with guns and really fantastic sunburns. We waved to them, they waved back, and we went to watch fish.

About Carnival--it is like a big parade with the whole town joining in. We were in town to see one of the parades (there are at least one every day, and the costumes and floats are wonderful). I was standing on the sidelines enjoying the children with flowers and the different floats provided by the local businesses, and I got hugged by a werewolf! Someone in a werewolf costume decided I need a hug, so I hugged him/her/it back. My husband said I didn't even look surprised. I think that was when he decided we needed to go on cruises where he could keep me in a more contained environment.

We were on a cruise that stopped in Venezuela. While wandering around the outlying areas, a young man showed up and offered to let me hold a sloth for a quarter. Well, who could turn down a chance like that? I held the sloth, my husband forked over the quarter, and we all had a fine time, although we just assumed the sloth was having a fine time (it's hard t tell--sloths aren't really very expressive of feelings). Then the young man offered to sell me the sloth for fifty cents. That was when my husband separated me from my new sleepy, furry friend and got me back on the boat.

Lately we have been taking short two or three day vacations here in Texas. I say it is because we can't leave the farm and hens for longer than that. My husband says that it's because he can't keep me under control for much longer than that.

I find vacations to be very restful and interesting. My husband comes home and breathes a sigh of relief.

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Magnet for the strange, part 2

Category: Serendipity | Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 8:31 pm


I had blogged before about being a magnet for people who are a bit strange. At dinner last night, my husband reminded me of several other "happenings".

When we lived in upstate NY a neighbor stopped by at midnight, carrying a 2x4, and asked if we had seen a German Shepherd dog. We assured him that no German Shepherds had gone through our living room at midnight while we were watching old Sherlock Holmes movies. The neighbor, who had a bandage on his head (more of this later) said that the dog had tipped over his garbage can every night for a month and he was going to beat that dog with the 2x4. We didn't point out to him that he had one swipe at the dog, at which time the dog would come right past the 2x4 and get him in a vulnerable spot. It seemed right that he would find that out for himself. We asked about the bandage. It seems he had shut the car door on his head. We didn't pursue that line of conversation.

Since moving to Texas, we have met several other interesting people. We lived in town, next to a Methodist Church which occasionally hosted training programs for professionals. We mentioned to our neighbor that Janelle, the town clerk, had come over during a break and admired our garden. The neighbor said, "I bet she was dressed to the nines! When she was in high school she only had one bra and it was full of holes. My daddy used to give her a ride to school on his mule." Since her daddy went by the initials D. L. that gave rise to the story about D.L., Janelle, and the Holey Bra. A Texas take on the nativity story.

The husband of the aforesaid neighbor had a PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) sticker on the back window of his pick-up. He was such a cowboy that we had him convinced there was money to be made with "stud mules." He tried to rope a ram with clothesline, and after being butted, dumped in the dirt, and rammed a couple of times, his 10 year old daughters asked if he wanted that goat in the hauler. When he said yes they just said, "Come on, goat." It seems they had played with this goat since it was a kid, and it would follow them anywhere. He also tried to rope a feral emu (when the emu oil market tanked, emu owners just let the big birds go and they became something of a nuisance). We told him he was lucky that he had failed to rope the emu since they had a kick like a mule, a stud mule.
He also went hunting with his car keys hanging from his belt and making a nice clanging noise, smoking, and a $1 bullet in his pocket. He wondered why he was never able to sneak up on a deer.
Chupacabra is a mythic animal that supposedly exists on sucking the blood out of goats. Every once in a while a new chupacabra sighting surfaces. There is an element of Texas society that firmly believes in chupacabras, even though they always turn out to be raccoons with mange (the chupacabras, not the element of Texas society). My husband worked with a guy that swore that "them chupacabras are mean suckers." One doesn't argue with someone who firmly believes in chupacabras and has an arsenal in his home.
Texas is so darned interesting.


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Responses to bogus phone calls

Category: Serendipity | Posted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 4:27 pm

I admit that picking up the phone and finding that some bogus company/person wants to either sell me something or have me send money makes me a trifle angry. However, I have come up with some answers that baffle the caller.

The "Internal Revenue Service" wants late payment fees and will issue a warrant for my arrest if I don't send $$$ to a drop box address. I respond that I'm already in jail for murdering a phone solicitor and have nothing to lose.

Friends are vacationing in the (insert country) and were mugged, so please send money so they can fly home. I respond that all my friends are smart enough to buy round-trip tickets so these dummies could not be my friends.

Whoopee, I have won a big prize and all I have to do is send $$$ to Nigeria to claim it. I respond that I have so much money that I'm having trouble spending it all, but have been thinking of just buying Nigeria.

"Microsoft" calls, telling me our computer is "infected". I either pretend that I think Microsoft is some kind of new toweling for cleaning, or thank them for telling me about the infection and I'll spray the computer with a bug killer.

There are so few opportunities to yank someone's chain when you live the isolated rural life. One makes what one can out of the opportunities offered.


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I love change!

Category: Serendipity | Posted: Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:23 pm

I love change - not the kind that means "different from what was", but change as in pennies, nickels, dimes.

I was in our local post office, and an elderly lady (she must have been at least two years older than I) was mailing a birthday card. At least I'm assuming it was a birthday card - it could have been a threatening note to the American Association of Retired Persons. It was an oversized card and heavier than usual, so the postage was 70 cents. She pulled out a change purse - the kind your grandma used to have with a little snap clasp - and was ten cents short. I had change! I offered her the dime she needed, and she paid for the postage and thanked me profusely. Where else could you get such a good feeling for a dime?

At our local Western Auto while I was picking up the mower blades we'd had sharpened, a farm worker came in to get oil for some type of machinery. The oil was $1.79, but all he had was a dollar. I dug into my purse and came up with 79 cents (love those pennies!). He was flabbergasted! He insisted on carrying the blades out to the truck for me and was so grateful. For three quarters and four pennies, I got a big smile from a stranger!

And lastly, I admit I was sneaking a candy bar at the local grocery. I usually don't eat candy, but for some reason had a craving for chocolate. I had the bar in hand and was waiting at the check-out, when the lady in front of me, who was using food stamps, told her toddler that she couldn't buy the box of Gummy Bears the toddler wanted. You can see where this is going. I picked up a box of Gummy Bears, and bought both the Bears and the candy bar. I caught them in the parking lot, gave them the candy (chocolate for mama since anyone with a toddler needs all the energy boost she can get, and Bears for the toddler). Anyway, it's better for my diet to not eat chocolate. I got 39 cents in change from buying the candy. I'll probably find a good use for a quarter, a dime, and four pennies!




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