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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We're magnets for the weird

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Sun Mar 25, 2018 4:30 pm

I think I've mentioned before that strange things, and strange people happen to us. Our ability to attract the off-balance had seemed to subside, but no, we are still magnets for the weird.

In the past week, two complete strangers have pulled into our driveway and offered to paint our barn. We have a metal barn (big advantage, it doesn't have to be painted)and, I checked, we don't have a "barn painters wanted" sign anywhere on the farm. The second guy, whom I felt vaguely sorry for, wasn't prepared for my questions. "What color are you planning on painting it? Are you going to use quality paint? And why do you want to paint our barn FOR FREE? I guess he planned on charging us for the pleasure of painting our barn. As we say here in Texas, he skedaddled.

Then, at 6:30 yesterday morning my husband was in the backyard firing the pistol to scare off a skunk. Husband, fully dressed, with a firearm, and a man comes up to our fence and apologizes for waking my husband. Okay, maybe he sleeps fully dressed with a pistol by his side. We don't. He is surely very trusting, because no way would we approach someone in the semi-dark after hearing gunfire!

He wanted to know where he was. My husband bit back the obvious answer, "leaning on my fence" and asked why he wanted to know. It seems he had wrecked his car and wanted to phone a tow truck, at 6:30 a.m. My husband told him what road he was on and the nearest intersection, then the guy wanted to phone his mother and have my husband talk to her! Husband refused and the man went back to his car. We are still trying to figure out how someone has a towing firm's phone number in the addresses on a cell phone. Perhaps not so much "how" as "why"?

So far today has been pretty normal (for us) and we hope it stays that way. We have looked at each other and asked, "why us?"

This blog entry has been viewed 109 times


Third world living

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:59 pm

Yes,I know we are in Texas, but lately it seems that we are living in a third world country. These are lessons we have learned:
Do not subscribe to a magazine or newspaper. We have a subscription for Time, which may or may not arrive. If we inquire at the post office, they tell us it was delivered. I guess we are to search our neighbor's mailboxes to find our magazine. We now read the magazine on-line, more often than not.
Do not expect phone calls to be returned. My husband picked up his prescriptions, and the blood pressure medicine was missing. The pharmacist said he'd received no prescription for it. Husband called the doctor's office and got the following message, "We are on vacation as of Jan. 3, and will return to the office on Jan. 9". He called in mid-September. After leaving a request for a return call which didn't happen, he called again today and finally got the prescription sent to the pharmacy.
Do not expect contracts to be honored. The Progressive Waste Solutions which is supposed to pick up our garbage has missed more pick-up days than they have hit. The latest is when our Tuesday pick-up was missed, the office told us it would be picked up by Wednesday afternoon, then by the "end of the week" (we should have asked what week, what year). This company is neither progressive nor a solution. I do agree they are a waste.
Do not plan on watching TV. A local station goes off the air frequently and their excuse is that they are having trouble with their transmitter. I missed bull riding yesterday, thanks to their transmitter. My ire was nothing compared to the football fans who missed three quarters of the game!
Do not expect someone to show up when they say they will, and these are not businesses, but neighbors. I call and ask if a dozen free eggs would be acceptable. Enthusiasm, I'll be there this afternoon. No show. I offer garden produce. Enthusiasm, I'll stop by on my way home. No show. Why don't they just tell us their time is more valuable than ours, and we can wait around for them to either find time to stop by or remember?
I love living on the farm, and am grateful that we can get by without mail delivery, garbage pick-up, and TV programs, but my husband's blood pressure is not being improved by the lackadaisical incompetence we keep running into!

This blog entry has been viewed 181 times


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!

This blog entry has been viewed 162 times


Getting rid of a rooster

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:40 pm

In May we received our order of 12 chicks. One has turned out to be a rooster, and since I don't want to candle eggs or get chased around the coop by a testerone happy chicken, we decided to give him away to someone who had a flock that needed "refreshing."

I made up a nice poster, complete with photo, to put up at the feed store. "Black Australorp Rooster, 8 weeks old. Free!
His offspring will increase your egg quality and quantity. Call xxx-xxxx to arrange for pick-up."

Some of the calls we received were strange, disturbing, and downright funny. One man asked if the rooster was a male, and if he was black. Well, yes, he is and he is.

Another caller wanted me to deliver the rooster. And yet another wanted me to meet them at the feed store with rooster in tow.

The last caller wanted the rooster, but wasn't sure when she could come, or her cousin could come, so I was to be sure to be home when they could stop by to get the rooster. I told her I had made other arrangements.

We now have a rooster who is pretty mellow, so far. I've named him Cogburn (anyone seen the movie True Grit?) He seems to be avoiding the mature hens, who have a tendency to sit on him when he gets obstreperous. Nothing like having a 12 pound hen sitting on you to calm you down!

I hope he stays friendly. If not, he will go somewhere else--there is a guy down the road that has free-range hens that Cogburn would just love!

Who would have thought in an area of farms it would be so darned difficult to give away a purebred, gently raised rooster with impeccable heritage?

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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!

This blog entry has been viewed 210 times


I'm Entitled!

Category: Vegetable gardens | Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 3:17 pm

It seems that more and more people feel they are "entitled". I just love the "I'm more important than you, so hop to it and get me what I want" attitude.

Last night, at 8:30 on a Sunday night, a woman pulled into our driveway. When we answered the door she said, "Don't get too close, I'm sick." Okay, but this isn't a clinic.
She wanted to buy some honey to put in her tea to soothe her sore throat. This sore throat just appeared suddenly? You couldn't make it to the grocery or Walmart earlier to get medicine? When informed that we didn't have any honey, and that if we did harvest honey it would be in late June, she replied, "But my throat is sore now!" Somehow we didn't feel all that sympathetic.

Then there was the guy that kept bugging us about our garden. "I drove by and them tomatoes looked awful good. I'd take a few of those." I informed him that if he wanted tomatoes he might plant a few himself. He got huffy, and informed me that because we had so many we ought to be "neighborly" and give him some. He isn't a neighbor; he's known all over town as a moocher; and any extra tomatoes were earmarked for the food pantry. He'll be back this year wanting something out of the garden. I should have planted the veggie gardens where they couldn't be seen!

We hosted a garden tour when we lived in town. The roses were blooming their heads off, the flower beds were all tidied, and we had iced tea for visitors. I was thoroughly enjoying talking about plants with folks. One lady asked, "Will those roses last for two days?". I told her that the Esperanza was a good rose, but tended to shatter after being fully open for a day or so. Then she asked, "What rose do you have that I can cut for my son to give his prom date as a corsage?" I couldn't believe the sheer nerve! I told her that a florist in town had lovely corsages, but charged for them. Sonny might want to get a job to earn some money!

We had a neighbor in town that called and asked if she could have a head of broccoli. We had plenty of broccoli, so I said she was most welcome to a head of broccoli. I went out to the garden later and she had clean-cut every broccoli head we had. When I asked her what she did with all that broccoli I had grown, she said she shared it with her family. There wasn't a garden among them. That was when I learned you never, never let anyone into your garden unsupervised.

And then there is the little, 90-ish lady at the food pantry that follows me down the aisle, asking if I have any of that yellow squash. She loves crookneck squash. If I do have some, she wants it, and she wants it right then, out of my basket. The squash has to be weighed before it's distributed because the pantry has to keep records on community donations. She stands right there and as soon as the squash is weighed, she points to the one she wants. That's fine with me - when you are 90-ish and enthused about fresh food, that's not entitlement, that's heart-warming!



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Grandfather's and daddy's garden tools, now mine

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:31 pm

We have all the needed garden tools, and a few that we bought on impulse and are still trying to figure out why! It seemed like a good idea at the time, but time has proven us wrong in several instances. Some are flimsier than we thought; some just don’t do the job intended; and some are just for those who garden in an 8” pot.

Our most-used and most-beloved tools are the old ones. Our hoe was used by my grandfather, and by my daddy. When I sharpen the edge, or feel the smooth wood under my hand, I feel connected to family. I can imagine my grandfather’s calloused hands on that hoe. He was a farmer who, when he retired, moved to town to a corner lot of about three acres. He immediately started a big vegetable garden. Daddy spent many an hour hoeing out weeds with that smooth handled hoe. Now I hoe weeds, make rows for planting, and think about grandfather and daddy.

Our hedge clips came down in the family also. I don’t know who bought them originally, but they have held up for over 60 years. I remember daddy clipping the spirea hedge along the driveway, using these clips. I used them as a teenager to shape the same hedge, and later a yew hedge in our upstate NY home. After we moved to Texas, the clips encountered plants they had never heard of, and the bolt holding the cutting edges together had to be replaced. That replacement, and the occasional sharpening, is all they have received over the years. The wooden handles fit my hands perfectly, and I can almost feel daddy’s hands on them.

Our garden rake is a relic of my grandfather’s, also. It is so sturdy it stands up to our “gumbo” soil, and makes a lovely planting row for vegetables. It also has raked up the bedding in the chicken coop and the residue of a hay bale in the pasture. It has a wooden handle (all of these tools were made before the invention of fiberglass) and the tines are still very “toothy” after all these years.

We have a shovel that came from my grandfather, and that daddy used. It has dug so many holes, moved so many perennials, and pried up so many large weeds! It gets sharpened on occasion, and is probably a good four inches shorter than it was originally due to the sharpening. It will still outlast me.

I care for these tools by cleaning, giving them an occasional sharpening, and rubbing some linseed oil into the wooden handles. That’s what grandfather did, what daddy did, and what I do. I also treasure them.



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