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A Small Town Gal

Life with Quirks

Mel BooneI must admit, I have quirks. Don't worry, I don't have anything that would be considered contagious and don't do anything illegal. My quirks are probably just odd enough to put me in the "weird" category.

Body butter and lip balm 

Hand lotion and lip balm, can you believe it? I cannot get through my day without either one. I have no real preference in brand, although my favorite seem to be Burt's Bees. I have got them stashed everywhere. Literally! If you don't believe me, just come to my house and take inventory. I have them stashed in the bathroom cabinet, nightstand drawer by my bed, kitchen table, purse, and the SUV. If I leave and don't have a travel-sized hand lotion bottle and lip balm in my pocket, it's back into the house to retrieve them.

I've got to be nuts, right? Really, who in their right mind acts like they can't live any amount of time without these two products? The only thing that I haven't started doing is making my own. Believe me, if I had the recipes and supplies to start doing it, I would. It's only a matter of time before I Google it. Perhaps I should start my own support group; however, I fear that I may be the only one to show up at the monthly meetings.

This is almost as bad as my addiction to antique tractors and trucks. There's already eleven tractors at home. I'm drawn to them like bees to honey. If I see one in parking lot, I've got to pull in to look at it. If I see one on a trailer on the road, I follow it in hopes that the driver pulls in someplace so that I can take a moment to admire it.

In a way, I'm glad that I do have these weird quirks. I could have chosen much worse; I could have chosen to start smoking and drinking like my biological dad did. With that in mind, maybe my quirks aren't so weird.

Dogs vs. Cats

Mel BooneWhich makes the better pet, dogs or cats? That has been an ongoing dispute for what seems like forever. Some love cats and hate dogs. Others love dogs and hate cats. I can't pick a side. I love them both.

Two dogs cuddling
Buddy and Jake

For me, I really don't have a preference. I love the companionship of a cat as much as I do a dog. As a joke, I tell people that my first babysitter was a cat. The downfall of that joke is that my mom has the pictures that show Bootsie the cat curled up next to me as an infant. Even though I barely remember her, I'm pretty sure I never got far from Bootsie sight.

I go out to the farm every morning to feed the farm cats. I feel like the Pied Piper of the feline world at times; they all come running to greet me as soon as I get out of the SUV. Then they all make a point of waiting at the back door just to follow me to the barn with their food in my hands. It's hilarious to watch me walk while trying not to trip over them. I've got the YouTube video as proof! (Just look up my YouTube channel: deeregal2)

Jake and Buddy are my daily reminders that dogs have a special place in my life, too. After I lost my first Jack Russell, Stubby, I swore that I would never have another dog. Well, Jake proved me wrong. When he was seven weeks old, Jake gave me this adorable puppy look, and I was instantly hooked. I'm pretty sure Jake knew he had me suckered. Now that I have my grandma's dog, Buddy, I'm trying to figure out how to deal with two terriers at the same time. They drive me nuts at times, but at the end of the day, when both are curled up next to me, I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm pretty sure my mom would tell me that what goes around comes around. With as many times as I had my childhood dogs, Brownie and Inky, sitting at the kids' table for my "tea parties," Jake and Buddy must be giving me a dose of my own medicine!

Group of cats
Farm cats

Difference of Camping Opinions

Mel BooneIt's January. The weatherman is calling for really nasty weather this weekend. All I can think about is, "When is it going to warm up so that I can go to tractor shows and go camping?"

Super 8 motel 

My stepdad's idea of camping is usually referred to as the Super 8 hotel chain. A bathroom, a bed, with Jake curled up asleep next to him. Not to mention a TV for him to fall asleep in front of while the coffee pot on the desk is still half full. Go figure!

I do admit, I like to have access to a shower when I go camping. I've been lucky enough to camp at places that have public showers and restrooms. Once in a blue moon, when I find myself at a spot where there's nothing more than port-a-potties, I've made do. Up goes my portable, 10x10, pop-up tent. Then I attach a few blankets around the side for privacy, and out comes the 5-gallon "water bladder" with attached hose that I picked up from the camping section of Wal-Mart and a package of disposable washcloths that I can order from campingsurvival.com. Good enough for me to get through a couple of nights.

Outside of the shower issue, I'll camp in the back of the van, truck with a topper, tent, or a camper trailer. A twin-size inflatable bed will do, provided that I can remember to put a blanket over it so that Jake's claws don't deflate it. I think for this year I may invest in a cot so that I don't wake up in the middle of the night on a deflated piece of plastic.

As for the TV? Well, I can make do without the TV for a couple of days. I've made do without the internet for several days and it hasn't killed me yet, so no TV for awhile won't hurt me either. I've thought about getting a portable TV just for the heck of it. Then again, watching my stepdad be without TV or a day or two can be pretty amusing at times.

Welcome 2017!

Mel BooneHappy New Year, everyone! We're already four days into 2017, can you believe it? As always, I attempt to make resolutions — emphasis on the word attempt. Why? Well, it's because I'm lousy at keeping them!

This year I really want to try to do better. My mindset isn't "I will try to keep my new year resolutions," it's "I will succeed at keeping at least one or all!" I wonder how many times I'll have to remind myself of this? Who wants to place any bets on that? I mean, I really do have a poor track record!

One objective is in my photography. It's a hobby that I have had since middle school, and I'm glad to share my love for the hobby with my Grandpa Boone. Now I want to go a step further and see if my skills as a photographer are good enough for anyone to buy. I could start online, but I haven't worked up the nerve to go that far yet. I do, however, have 8x10 mounting boards that I purchased from Photographer's Edge. I would love to see some of my work in a local gallery. So, my goal for now is to get my 8x10's mounted and start looking at which galleries will accept my work.

Another goal is contests. At one time I wrote poetry. Although I never won a poetry contest, I do have three poems that have been printed in anthologies. Even if I never enter another poetry contest, I really should get back to writing my poems again. Perhaps I should Google photo contests?

Then there's Jake and Buddy. Jake — as those who have read my blogs know — is my Jack Russell Terrier. I now have Buddy, my Grandma Roe's terrier mix. They're both lovable dogs and they love to play with each other. They love to go for car rides but get a little too hyper at times in the SUV. So it's time for a little training, I guess. I thought one dog was a handful; now I have an extra helping of "energetic dog." If I can just get through this then trips to Long Branch Lake and State Park will be so much more enjoyable once spring gets here!

So all in all, I'm trying to stay optimistic. My resolutions are all doable, right?

Stack of photos and writings
Photo by Fotolia/Aleksandr Volkov

Tis The Season

Mel BooneWell, I've done it this year. For the last few years I've thought about joining the Reditt Gifts Secret Santa. I talked myself out of it the last couple of years. This year, I joined. I got the address of the person I was to send a present to a couple of weeks ago, and he has received my gift.

Festive fireplace

I received an email Monday afternoon that my secret Santa has shipped my gift to me. I'm now transported back to being a kid again. I'm so excited that I can barely stand it. I can't wait to get the package and rip it open to see what my secret Santa has sent to me! Please don't be frightened if you drive by my house and see me staring at the mail box for the next few days. I really haven't lost my sanity yet.

However, in all of this holiday excitement, the adult me has to remind my inner child that it isn't the receiving that is important. It's the giving that is the greatest gift of all.

I am reminded of that in several ways. The teenager that I sent the gift to posted a pic of the gift that I sent. He thought the knit hat (that I made myself) was "really cool," he was getting ready to read the book I sent, and he was happy to find the toys for his dog and cat. (His dog loves the rope ball that I sent.) It was heartwarming to know that I got a thank you, since I worried that he would not like the content.

I still send letters to the troops overseas. This time of year, I include a Christmas Card with those letters. I've been volunteering with the Soldiers Angels Letter Writing Team since June 2012. Where has the time gone? Even though I don't hear back from most of them, it still makes me feel good to send them a holiday card during the Christmas season. They are giving up time they could be with their families to be wherever they are. They at least deserve to know that they are being thought of, and that people really do appreciate them.

On the local news, I learned that an animal shelter was starting a "break out" this year. Their goal is to find foster homes for every dog and cat in their shelter during Christmas. The foster family comes and gets their furry friend on December 24 and returns the animal on December 26. I love this idea! This gives these dogs and cats time to be out of their cages and socialized in a loving home, even if it's just for a little while. I know this may be hard to do; it will take dedication to foster an animal during Christmas, but I hope the animal shelter reaches their goal of being an empty shelter for two days. Who knows, maybe some of them will find their forever home.

Now, before I let my inner child go out to check the mail box, let me wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Entertaining Squirrels

Mel BooneI find animals to be a wonderful source of entertainment. If a squirrel is involved, not only am I entertained, sometimes I find myself laughing so hard that I cry.

Where I live in northeast Missouri, I see plenty of gray squirrels. Once in a while I will see a red squirrel, but that is a rare occasion for me. If and when I see a red one, it's usually at the county fairgrounds. The gray ones are everywhere! The library, my backyard, someone else's yard ... well, you get the picture.

At home, I've seen as many as four squirrels at one time. They are usually scampering around my backyard as well as the neighbors' yards, going from tree to tree. A few times I have watched a couple have a great time running around on the hood and gas tank of the old, 1929 McCormick Deering 22-36 tractor in the backyard. If they get startled, it's an easy jump from the gas tank to the fender, then from the fender to the utility pole. Once on my utility pole, they can get to the neighbor's tree without ever being on the ground. It's a good laugh for me until I start wondering how many nuts they have stashed on the old, steel, wheeled tractor. There's a part of me that's too scared to go look.

I once read an article about a town that has white squirrels; I think the town has even been on the news. It has been years since I've read about them, so I've since forgotten the name of the town. I often wonder if the white squirrels are still there. If I could remember the name and knew if those white squirrels were still there, I'd love to take a trip just to see if I could spot them. (If anyone has a better memory than me, please feel free to send me an email, deeregal2@gmail.com).

For now, I'll just watch the gray squirrels here at home. I'll be happy to watch them just as long as I don't find them in my attic!

gray squirrel

Rain

Mel BooneI ended up not going to one tractor show this year on account of rain. It was a four-day show that I normally attend as a spectator for one day, and it really wasn't raining that much. However in the end, between the light drizzle and a van that was near its death, I decided to miss Boonville this year.

 

Flooded parking lot
Rainy day at the library.

Water, like the sun, is essential. All living things need both to survive. We cannot live without them. Too much can cause a disaster to farmers. Too little can also be a disaster for farmers. Nobody wants a drought, nor do we want a flood.

But adults may be the only ones who think of rain in terms of disasters. How many reading this blog remember going outside as a kid to play in the rain? I know I did many times as a young girl. After every downpour I would be outside, ready to tackle every puddle that I came across. Nothing felt better than trying to see how big of a splash I could make.

More recently, Stubby, my Jack Russell terrier, used to love to run through the water puddles. I would laugh so hard it hurt. Sometimes I would be reminded of my own running though the puddles as a kid, and I would join him. The Jack that I have now, Jake, doesn't like the puddles and will go out of his way to avoid them.

Now I sometimes dread seeing the rain, especially when I'm on my way to the farm. Since the last weekend of July this year it's a daily trip out there to care for my grandmother's cats. She can barely care for the ones in the house, so I have ended up with the daily ritual of feeding the outdoor cats. The three miles of blacktop road from the four lane highway to her house can be a nightmare to drive on when it rains. Puddles are all over the road. If not driving slowly and carefully, you can find yourself hydroplaning into a ditch. I had angels looking over me once, and that was enough for me to learn my lesson.

We can't stop Mother Nature, but we all should be aware of our own actions, too. Pollution of any kind and discarding our trash and sewage into our lakes, rivers, and streams are man-made problems. I'm betting Mother Nature would be grateful if the humans here on earth cleaned up our bad habits.

Perhaps the next time it rains I should take the time to honor Stubby and my childhood by going outside to play.

River and herons
Crane at the spillway, Long Branch Lake and State Park, Macon, MO.