March 2014: The Children Are Tender

Caregiving, teaching little kids to read, and riding in the pickup with Farmer John; I tweet, pin, and blog, from my home in rural Kansas. If you've landed here looking for information about my books, visit my author's page by clicking this link: A. Born. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Blue Skies and Roses

Here are a few more month-of-May impressions from a kind of early morning walk this morning (about 8:30 a.m.--ok, not early):

I record "Farmer Johnisms"--my man does have a way with words.  I'm sorry to report that as we walked along this morning John told me our brush cutter needs to be replaced because it is "...busted, crusted, and rusted."

And, then he looked up and said, "Just look at that sky.  Not a cloud in it.  It goes on forever n' ever."

So I took a photo of that endless blue expanse with a few cottonwood branches to the left for reference:

One more note...there is an old-fashioned rose that blooms in the fencerow by our driveway every year in late May or early June.  As I recall, sometimes the blooms are a paler shade of pink than this year.  We didn't plant this bush; it was here when we moved in 43 years ago.  Just as all of us hope to be, it is hearty and long-lived!  I feel a little doubtful as to whether it is a true wild rose--see how it grows in its own bouquet-shaped clusters?  It has wound into a partially dead tree and is just so lovely.

I've added this photo this evening (May 30). It was taken with the setting sun backlighting the blossoms.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Merry Month of May

Life. It rolls along so quickly, with sad and happy and beautiful happenings all mixed up together. This month we've had another root canal (mine this time), some precious times with our beloved kids and grands, and attended the funeral of a friend, a gentleman who has been a jovial, sports-loving, family-supporting fixture in our little community.  We will miss him so much.

Just as John finished planting corn, we received some much-needed rain that allowed the newly burned pastures to quickly turn to lush, graze-worthy green.  All of the cattle have been moved to their summer pastures, and as soon as the ground dries Farmer John will be hard at his one-man farming show, planting soybeans.

May 2 -- We were worried about dry conditions, but spring was nevertheless having its green way with the cottonwood trees across from our house. 
Our grandboys, all ready for a Royal's game May 4th.  

May 10--the setting sun cast gold light beneath these dark clouds to the east.  Rain!

Beautiful Rebekah, 18 months, loves her reflection in her new cowgirl hat (purchased by Grammy, of course).  
You know I love the symbolism of photos of roads--life is a journey!  This phone photo of the setting sun revealed a rainbow effect not visible to the naked eye.  I like that symbolism as well--the Lord surrounds and protects us in ways we do not see.  

Here Isaac looks like he's saying "That's all folks!"  And so we'll let him bring May's blog post to an end.  

Sunday, April 30, 2017


I can't really entitle this post "April on the Farm," because I haven't been out with John this month as he has been busy fixing fence, burning pastures, and moving cattle. I have spring allergies and odd swelling in my face from Rosacea, and these things are aggravated when I ride around in the dusty ol' farm pickup.  Hard not to grieve missing out of this time of year, but there have been lots of blessings this month nonetheless.

A wind farm surrounds the little nursing home where my mom now lives. I've overcome my fear of these huge machines and often stop to snap a photo. The backstory of how I wrote my first short story for Kindle this month (the storyline includes a giant wind turbine) can be found HERE.  

The lilac bush bloomed--briefly.  A hard rain stripped it of blossoms on about its third day of full bloom.  
This photo reminds me that springtime is beautiful even from the inside looking out.  

Loved Easter this year with four--count 'em, FOUR grandkids hunting eggs in our front yard.  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March on the Farmstead

We had one of the warmest Februarys on record but March has brought a return of winter-like weather.  Our two oldest grandsons, above, have both had colds but that didn't stop them from being outside and getting to know this friendly Hereford heifer. The photo credit goes to the boys' dad; I would have been saying "Oh don't get so close!!"

I've included a photo of the roast chicken we had for supper the other night because it was so easy and good.  It is America Test Kitchen's Weeknight Roast Chicken - no brining or complicated prep.  I did go ahead and make the pan sauce and was glad I did. I used lemon juice and fresh rosemary rather than the vinegar and fresh thyme the recipe calls for, and we loved it.  Another plus is that the recipe link includes a video--I didn't even have to read the recipe (but be certain to test the internal temperature -- I must've had a bigger bird, had to roast it longer to get to the requisite temperature)!

We live near a wind farm, and after some trepidation over the size of these machines--the towers alone are over 300 feet high, and each wing is about 185 feet long--I've come to enjoy photographing them. Our Kansas skies have provided a beautiful backdrop for trees and turbines of late.

By the way, Farmer John is feeling much better than at the time of my last blogpost--but is a little poorer for having had to pay for a root canal.

Hope your March is blessed!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February on the Farm

My blogger friends from Maine are "hunkered down" waiting out a blizzard that has deposited several feet of snow, but here in Kansas we have had almost spring-like weather.  This morning's temperatures were a bit more in tune with the date on the calendar; it was 32ºF as I started out on my walk this morning about 9 a.m.

It was a blessing to be outside, walking.  I have just come through an arthritis/fibromyalgia attack that was the worst I've experienced. I kept remembering my grandmother talking about "the rheumatiz" and I wonder whether she suffered something like this. It was so uncomfortable that just turning over in bed was an ordeal; the weight of the blankets was painful to lift and rearrange.

But--I'm better!  And I walked up the hill across from our house this morning!

Farmer John was feeding cattle, and stopped to open the wire gate for me.  He is not a happy camper today; he has a cold AND a toothache. He is the hale and hearty member of our partnership, the cinch pin that holds our family together. Our adult kids call me with prayer requests, but John fields all other needs for his elderly parents and for all of us (driving to appointments/moving furniture/mechanic work/help with projects/etc.).  Even beyond my empathy and prayers for him there is just an uneasy feeling when he isn't well because we all depend on him so. Here he is, opening the gate and holding his aching jaw; please say a little prayer for Farmer John (dental appointment this afternoon!).

Our big, goofy dog Moose has always been an escape artist. No fence could hold him, and so he had to leave his home with our daughter's family in town and come to the country to live with us.  But he somehow instinctively knew the way back, and would travel over 4 miles back to their yard.  And so we spent $300--yes, THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS-- on a perimeter collar for this beast.  And it worked.  He became trained, we thought, and we stopped making him wear it.  This was a mistake.  He ran away this past weekend and we spent two anxious days searching for him.  He has to wear the collar once more.  But need I say it--I am SO glad to have him back.  I don't know why I love him but I do!

Finally, here are a couple of shadow photos of Moose and me from our walk this morning...Happy February everyone, no matter the weather in your neck of the woods:  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

And one more January photo...

This photo was taken just west of the little yellow house on January 6.  Love our Kansas sunsets.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Super Bowl Chili Recipe

Someone once said that The Children Are Tender was perhaps "....sort of how you wish things would have been."

Well, no.  I would not have wished for Abby to have to quit her job to take care of her mother with scarcely a blink of the eye on behalf of folks who ought to have been sorry to see her go.  I would never have wished for a little boy to be spirited away in the night by a birth mother who did not have legal custody, and for that boy's teacher never to see that child again.  And I certainly would not have wished for Jeffrey to risk a shocking experience as he did in chapter one.

However, having said that, I must also say that January here in our real-life version of my fictional community of Karola has contained elements I wouldn't include in a book that, while is intended to spur empathy and action on behalf of innocent children who suffer, is also intended to leave readers with a sense of hope for the future.  But for the Lord, I'd not have felt much hope at the end of our difficult January.  

I'll quickly list the struggles we've faced: life threatening conditions that caused hospitalizations for both my husband's parents, several financial surprises of the sort that made our hearts sink and our minds go numb (did anyone else's insurance premiums double?), and last and albeit least, our dog ran away.  Not a banner month.  

I'm happy to report that as of February 1, my in-laws have recovered, we've adapted to our financial status quo, and today, the dog came home. And, last Sunday afternoon I won a chili cook-off at our church!  

You read that right.  God does have a sense of humor!  I've just completed a book on Christian weight loss, but during this stressful January I have spent an inordinate amount of time cooking and...well...I did not lose weight this month.  But I by golly won a chili cook-off. 

The recipe, as near as I can remember (I don't measure ingredients when I cook) is printed below the photo of me with my beautiful gold-spray-painted-tin-can trophy.  And by the way, that book isn't really about losing weight so much as it is about putting Christ first in everything, which will release us from the power of whatever ails us.  You can have a look at it here:  One Hundred Days to Freedom.  

Meantime, try a savory pot of chili for the Super Bowl this weekend.  

Chili, brown sugar/maple cupcakes, and chicken and noodles are some of the comfort food dishes I prepared during this dreary January.  '

Kid-pleasing Chili
(named on the spot to justify all that brown sugar when I was asked the name of my recipe). 

4 pounds ground beef
2 medium onions finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
3 teaspoons salt (less if chicken stock is salty)
2 packages (for four pounds of meat) Williams Chili Seasoning Mix
1 28 ounce can crushed Tomatoes
About 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
About 3 cups or so chicken stock—add it gradually until chili seems the right consistency. 
About 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
About 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
About ½ teaspoon or so liquid smoke—go easy, it can make things bitter
¾ to 1 cup brown sugar
1 can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
1 can seasoned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Tabasco sauce to taste—I like about 4 drops per pound of meat...

Brown the beef with the chopped onion, drain most of the juices/fat.  Stir in the garlic, salt, and Williams Chili Seasoning Mix.  Add all remaining ingredients except beans, stir well. Simmer about 10 minutes to let flavors blend.  Adjust seasonings—too bland?  Add more salt, Tabasco, and/or red wine vinegar.  Can you taste the smoke at all? You can add a little more. Now you’ll probably want to add the last ¼ cup brown sugar if you didn’t earlier.  Add beans, simmer a few minutes longer, stir, can add more stock as you prefer for consistency.