You Think You Got It Bad At The Ranch Pen

image-2

Nellie, one of the Ranch Pen’s good ol’ dogs on a frosty morning

So, the New Year started out with a bad case of the flu, but while laid out in the old recliner feebly thumbing through the local newspaper and feeling sorry for m’self, I came across this poor fella from the Memory Lane column dated December 28, 1926 :

While the body of Mr. Poor Fella, who took his own life by drinking poison, was being lowered into the grave in the local cemetery shortly before noon, his wife and another dude were being arraigned before the justice of the peace on a charge of adultery.

Mr. Poor Fella’s belongings, consisting of a covered wagon and a team, were sold for $100 on the city streets the day before to help defray funeral expenses. The county judge sent the couple’s three children, 14, 8, 6, to the orphan’s home in the northern part of the state. The fourteen-year-old was married, but her husband had deserted her.*

The amount of human suffering in those two paragraphs immediately made me thankful for the life God has given me. Also happy Gramps hasn’t been driven by me to drink poison. Yet. I suspect some might wonder how he’s held out for thirty-five years.

At any rate, here at the Ranch Pen, we’re gonna tackle 2017 and hope for the best. And hold on to your hats, in upcoming posts I plan to answer the question, ‘Where in tarnation is book three in the Love Is Not Enough series?’ and share some best-ofs from 2016. Also, I’ll assess the experiment in which I broke out of my stuffy old mold–where I putter about happily reading dusty relics of the past–and burst into the dazzle of modern books, including Chick Lit. (shuddering at the memory, eyeballs still slightly tender from almost rolling right out of my head)

So, until next time, Happy New Year, thanks for reading, God bless all y’all, and enjoy Southern Raised doing an awesome job on I’ll Have a New Life.

*Names of people and places withheld and  “dude” substituted for the name of the adulterer. Also “team” refers to a couple of horses or mules, still very much in use in southwest Oklahoma in 1926.

Top Ranch Pen Posts 2016 #1

The top Ranch Pen post of the year is the same one as the past three years: a techie post from the farm, How to get Your iPhone to Read Your Kindle Books and Magazines to You. The day I figured this out was a groundbreaking day in southwest Oklahoma, opening up whole new worlds. There were literally two  thousands of people who were real tickled with the breakthrough.

Anyway, the process is fairly easy–but aggravating–as Voiceover isn’t the most cooperative thing in the world. For instance, I have no idea how to answer my phone if it rings while Voiceover is reading. Maybe one day, I’ll address that topic. For now, however, the easiest way to get it to read is to open your Kindle app at the correct page, tell Siri to turn on Voiceover, swipe down on the screen with your two fingers crossed, hoping for the best. Don’t forget to command Siri to turn off Voiceover when you’re done, or you’ll be standing there trying to figure out how in tarnation to answer an important callprobably have more problems than you know what to do with.


Today is my first ever techie post: How To Get Your iPhone To Read Your Kindle Books And Magazines To You Even Though It Seems Like There Should Be An Easier Way To Do It. (Like straight from the Kindle App. I’m just sayin’.) If you have your Kindle read aloud to you a lot, you might find it handy to have your books read from your iPhone, too.

Screenshot from World Magazine on Kindle App for iPhone

Random screenshot from World Magazine on my Kindle App for iPhone. Your iPhone will read this to you.

Everybody who knows me is laughing their heads off that I would tackle a tech issue, but this is something daughter-in-law #2 and I have been trying to figure out for a while. Finally, Eureka! If I’m the last iPhone/Kindle reader left alive who didn’t know how to do this, please be kind–I’m not as young as I used to be.

(****Update 2016)

Easiest way to do this operation:

#1. Open the Kindle app to the page you want to start reading.

#2. Tell Siri to turn on Voiceover.

#3. Swipe down with two fingers on the screen for continuous reading.

#4. When you’re finished reading, tell Siri to turn off Voiceover.

(***Update 9-29-2015 since iOS 9 update)

Step#1: Open your Kindle app to the book page or magazine you want to read.

Step#2: Quickly tap the home button three times. A female voice will say, “Voiceover on”.

Step #3: Swipe two fingers down the screen for continuous reading.

Step #4: When you finish, be sure and tap the home button quickly three times. The female voice will say, “Voiceover off”.

Step #5: Go ahead and live your life in real time–smell the flowers, play with your dog, look at the stars with your kids.

Thank you, whoever made this operation so much simpler than it used to be!

(**Update 6-11-2015 from Paula who left this tip on the blog comments)

There is a shortcut: If you go to settings/General/Accessibility Shortcut (at the very bottom) and check off voiceover – then you can control whether it is off or on with three taps on the home button.


If that doesn’t work for you, try the following steps.

Step #1: Open your Kindle App to whatever book or article you want read aloud.

Step #2: Then hold down the home button to activate SIRI.

Step #3: Tell Siri to turn on VoiceOver.

(When Siri turns on VoiceOver, the phone is controlled by voice commands.)

Step #4: Hold home button to activate Siri again. Tell her to open Kindle App. She will open Kindle to the page you previously opened.

Step #5: Tap the screen. Then double tap the screen to get rid of the Kindle menu.

Step #6: Swipe two fingers down the screen and VoiceOver will begin reading aloud in a female voice. (You might have to try a few times. My phone was very uncooperative until I figured it out.)

Step #7: When you have finished reading, be sure to de-activate VoiceOver by holding down your iPhone’s home button and telling Siri to turn off VoiceOver.

No need to thank any of us down here at the Ranch Pen–especially if we’re the last ones to figure out that nifty trick.

Until next time, God bless all y’all and tell your iPhone to read you some good books.

 

************************************

As always, thanks so much for reading. God bless all y’all and all our best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2017 as you enjoy Taylor Davis doing a fabulous job on Auld Lang Syne.

Merry Christmas From The Ranch Pen

 

victorian-christmas-come-all-ye-faithful

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas! God bless all y’all and enjoy Casting Crowns and I heard The Bells On Christmas Day.

Top Ranch Pen Posts 2016 #2

victorianchristmas-clipart-graphicsfairy010

image via thegraphicsfairy.com

I’m pretty sure the views of this #2 most viewed Ranch Pen post come from people searching for what in the cat-hair that emoji thing is. I bet they’re very surprised when this super-countrified post turns up.

An update on the news in the old post. The kitties grew up and one, at least, became a mother. One of of her relatives, Goldfish, is mousing about the place at this very moment. Nellie’s leg is fine and she’s a beautiful dog who runs all day long, every day, chasing things. The fizzled bull is just a distant belch, but we have three or four other herd bulls who will someday make excellent hamburgers, too. The grandson, Roper, still swims like a fish and just killed his first deer this fall to put venison in the freezer for his family.

******************************************

 

The blog suffers at times from blog stinkerosis, also known as, the-old-gal’s-got-too-much-goin’-on-and-her-head’s-about-to-explode-look-out!. It’s a real condition. Look it up. You’ll find it under C for crazy ladies. Anyway, to get us off the fourth of July post I’ll rake through some bits of this and chunks of that to see what turns–Oh, hey! I found out something interesting. Anybody with an iPhone emoji keyboard ever wondered what this emoji thing is? 😤 My eyes are going the way of the rest of me and for the longest time (at least a week or two,) I wondered why that emoji thing was chewing on a sock. However, daughter-in-law #2 asked SIRI–our professional nag–and she said the emoji is: Huffing with anger face. 

A quick internet search revealed the emoji actually has steam coming out its non-existent nose, which I totally get, now, but I am going to call my emoji, Oh, put a sock in it, why don’t ya?.

Then we have the barn cat, Tip’s, little fuzz balls. They are fat as butter. If they’re half as good’a cats as their mother, we’ll never have a rodent problem again.

And Nellie, the three-legged dog on the eve of cast removal. Let us hope she has grown a brain in the past weeks and won’t try to bite tires again.

Gramps gathered a bunch of our cows last week for “preg” checking, only to find they were what is called “open”, meaning not bred. Gramps hauled the herd bull up to the clinic to get tested, only to find the bull had fizzled. A lot of things can cause the fizzle such as injuries or ill health, but the bull was hale and hearty, in the prime of his life, and a Don Juan among bulls, yet…nothing. To save Bully’s feelings, I won’t include a picture of his microscope slide. Since the bull weighs almost two-thousand-pounds and we don’t keep herd bulls for pets, he will be off to the livestock auction where a slaughter buyer will purchase him and he will be converted into many pounds of juicy, hormone-free and grass-fed hamburger.

And finally, a picture of the grandson, Roper, who triumphed over his terror of water a few days ago and now swims like a fish. We are really proud of him.0474

 

******************************

Thanks so much for reading and God bless all y’all as you listen to The Piano Guys and this beautiful performance of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Top Ranch Pen Posts 2016 #3

christmas-clipart-graphicsfairy009b

image via thegraphicsfairy.com

This post entitled Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Hey!What’re You Doing to My Tractor? is the third most viewed post at the Ranch Pen and has made it into the top five thrice in the past four years. (Since reading a book entitled The Adventure of English-The Biography of a Language by Melvyn Bragg, I–and anyone who would feel compelled to mess with Mr. Longfellow’s poetry–feel that “thrice” is a more interesting choice than “three times”.)

Anyway, I have no idea why the post garners its views, but the pictures are hysterically funny (unless any of those machines belong to you, in which case, you are still real mad) and the snatch of original Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poetry is very fine. Without further ado, here’s the old cream-puff.

****************************************

 

I’ve recycled the following pictures from an email–an oldie, but a goodie–that circulated amongst us ranchers and farmers a year or two ago. We all chuckled. And winced. And remembered when one of the kids, or the ex hired man, or even–goodness sakes–the owner/operator buried the tractor.

For those of you who drive around on paved streets and highways, I’ll attempt to explain the wrecks below.

red combine

1. Instead of The Wreck of the Hesperus  memorialized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, we’ll call this wreck The Wreck of the Old Case International Combine. The conversation between the old sailor in Mr. Longfellow’s poem and the skipper–just berfore he wrecked the Hesperus– went like this:

The skipper he stood beside the helm,
      His pipe was in his mouth,
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow
      The smoke now West, now South.
Then up and spake an old Sailòr,
      Had sailed to the Spanish Main,
“I pray thee, put into yonder port,
      For I fear a hurricane.
“Last night, the moon had a golden ring,
      And to-night no moon we see!”
The skipper, he blew a whiff from his pipe,
      And a scornful laugh laughed he.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (And if you can believe Wikipedia, his granddad’s name was Peleg Wadsworth. Why don’t we ever hear cool Bible names like that anymore?)
The conversation between Dad and the kid on the cell phone went like this:
“The kid sat high within the cab,
his earbud in one ear,
and he took the call from his old man,
and never missed a gear.
Then up and spake said old man,
who’d drove that road before,
Don’t go that way, son, he said,
for I fear the road is sloughin’ off  ’round that tin horn in the wash ’cause the county’s too cheap to pay for a longer piece of culvert.
The kid pocketed his smart phone,
a scornful laugh laughed he,
For he would show his old dad,
a real combine man he’d see…”
(And I humbly beg your forgiveness for messing up your really good poem, dearly departed Mr. Longfellow)

3 trac

2. This wreck we’ll call Some Dumb Guys With Tractors. The farm wife is taking the picture for future evidence. She is saying, “Seriously? I can understand one tractor, but three? And now the trackhoe, too? But, hee hee. This picture is going to get me that new saddle. And maybe a new riding lawn mower, too.”

Tractor and planter tear down power line

3. This wreck we’ll just call, Hired Man As Soon As They Get The Juice Shut Off To Those Wires And I Get My Hands On You, You Are Dead.

tractor runs over front end loader

4. This one we’ll call, How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You To Pick Up The Bucket Before You Let Out The Clutch?

cat tractor in a mudhole

5. This one we’ll call, Don’t Text And Drive, Goober!

back hoe bucket sticking out of ground

6. Should we call this one, Wife Buries the Hatchet With the Handle Stickin’ Out But Husband Buries the Trackhoe With the Bucket Stickin’ Out…or what? I’m at a loss here.

broken windshield combine

7. And this one…my goodness. Don’t Ever Hire Somebody to Harvest Your Corn Who Huffs Hairspray While Smoking ? 

(It appears both the back and front windows have blown out, allowing the corn in the grain tank to spill through the cab and onto the platform.)

steiger tractor backs over grain bin

8. Ah, and lastly, a Steiger tractor wreck. I’m very qualified to comment since I’ve had many adventures in an old Steiger tractor. (But not this one, I pomise.) The scene could have gone like this:

“Whoa.” Me stomping on the clutch and brake.

“Whoa, now.” Jamming on every lever in the cab with hands and feet. Starting to sweat profusely. “Oh, Lord…I said whoa, now!”

Two sets of back duals hit the grain bin and start to climb. “LORD HAVE MERCY, WHOA!”

Using both my boots, I finally shove the gear lever out of reverse. Tractor lurches forward, slamming nose into gravel. Motor dies. I slump over steering wheel, shaking. Sitting at odd angle. Sneak peek over shoulder.

This is not my fault. I told him to fix the brakes.

So What Do Y’all Think?

  • Is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow one of the best American Poets ever?
  • Do you have an explanation for number 6?
  • Should Gramps have fixed the brakes like I told him to, and why didn’t I name one of my boys Peleg?

 

*********************************************

As always, thanks so much for reading. Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy The Gardiner Sisters with one of my all time favorite carols, Angels We Have Heard on High.

#4 Most Viewed Ranch Pen Post

All seven of the grandkids got to help decorate the Christmas tree at the Ranch Pen this year. They proclaimed it the most beautiful one they have ever done. I have to agree.

 

No, ol’ Danni didn’t kick the bucket back at the Ranch Pen, but it’s been a dismal year for the poor blog. Maybe next year will go better. Until then, I’ll post some of the most viewed posts from this year. Surprisingly enough, none of the posts went viral–including the fourth most viewed 2016 post, Cranky at the Ranch Pen–but here she is, anyway.

************************************

Danni with Ladybug, Roper, Git’R’Done, Blondie, and Einstein

I’ve got a cold and am a little cranky this week, so naturally my thoughts turned to the subject of “transgendered” bathrooms.  I usually avoid political and social commentary, but the past few weeks the issue of transgendered bathrooms has cropped up in the news several times and the issue is important to me. Maybe it’s because Gramps and I just took five of our grandkids on our annual trek to the horse fair and ranch rodeo at Duncan, Oklahoma, and we used the public restrooms approximately 585 times over a two day span.

Unfortunately, more and more cities and states seem to think there aren’t enough weirdos preying on women and girls, so we need to let into our restrooms the dudes who say they feel like women. (We should just take their word on that, because, hey, that’s not weird at all, and dudes like that always tell the truth.)

Since I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, I wasn’t a bit surprised when I recently read an article where one of those crackpot transgendered restroom ordinances had mysteriously gone awry and some dude had ended up terrorizing women and girls in a public restroom. One of the pro-transgendered-bathroom-use-people interviewed was completely baffled how such a thing had happened. Unfortunately, at this time there doesn’t seem to be a way to tell the trans people from just regular creeps, but take heart, the brains of the outfit are working on it.

Oklahoma is a conservative state, even has an open carry gun law (is it possible a man who said he felt like a woman would feel more like a man for long enough to do his business if he knew one of the old gals in the ladies room was packing heat?), so I hope the public bathrooms around here will stay fairly simple–as in dudes go in the door with the dude on it and girls go in the door with the girl on it. Even so, Gramps’ll keep watching out for the grandsons in the men’s room, and I’ll post a guard for the granddaughters in the ladies room and I don’t care what laws are passed, if a dude walks in where my little granddaughters are innocently doing their business there’s gonna be hair in the butter. That’s just me talkin’, but it might be time for some of us gals to start yelling our heads off about this before it’s too late.

 

************************************************

As always, thanks so much for reading. God bless all y’all and enjoy Lauren Daigle doing a beautiful job on Noel.

Camper Van Envy At The Ranch Pen

Gramps and Danni’s sweet camper van at a rest stop in Oregon

Ok, so it’s been a few weeks since I posted, but today the Ranch Pen is back, wanting to know what is the first thing that pops into your head at the sight of the camper van in the above picture?

It’s, Sweet! That is such a cool camper van, and I wish I had one, too, isn’t it?

I knew it! None of you cracked up laughing–but secretly envious, no doubt–at the slight resemblance to Uncle Rico’s camper van on the movie, Napoleon Dynamite. (below)

van

Several months ago–with a west-coast family reunion looming–Gramps hopped on Craigslist and located us an economically priced camper van and we ended up driving her home after a payment transaction that took place in a small building with bars on the windows and big guys lurking around. Some of my thoughts were–not necessarily in this order–

  • oh, dear
  • Craigslist scams
  • how’d we get this old and stay so dumb?
  • No, it’s worse. Mexican cartel
  • Godhavemercywhatarewedoing
  • money laundering
  • allthatstuffontvmustbetrueandwe’reprobablygoingtoendupdead
  • Ok, whew. Possibly just identity theft
  • Have we been on the farm too long?

I will say the city fellas seemed to be impressed that we were farmers, however I still can’t recommend the experience to non-farmers. But that is a whole ‘nother story, as they say.

Anyway, we legally–I hope–obtained our super-sweet, new-to-us van and safely sped away. Gramps rigged it out with a custom farmer-job luggage carrier–a toolbox from the farm supply store–we gathered up our oldest grandson, Kevman, and we were off on our excellent adventure across twelve states.

Hopefully, I can write a post or two about our travels in the coming weeks, but for right now, just to give a taste of the wide range of camper vans and RVs out there that are even more excellent than ours–or, Uncle Rico’s–I grabbed these pictures off the RV Share website. You can click the link to view other astonishing RV pictures, but these seven were my personal favorites.

#7 The Clunky Chrysler Camper. My parents drove a Chrysler when I was a kid and I can’t believe my dad didn’t think of rigging it out with a camper like that.

chrysler rvs

#6 The Dodge Ram Dually Stretch Camper. We drive Dodge trucks here on our farm/ranch operation and there are always one or two of them waiting to die. What better use could Gramps resurrect them to than an outfit like that below? Outstanding! Plenty of room for all seven grandkids, no less.

dodge limo

#5 The Cuter-N-A-Bug Camper. Aw…It’s SO cute! I love those colors together. Maybe I like this one because I’m a girl.

volks rv

#4 The Schoolbus Tent Trailer Condo Camper. As a farm woman whose chickens live in an old school bus, I am absolutely in awe. Why didn’t Gramps think of that use for our bus? We could’ve housed the chickens in an old train car, or something.

school bus rv

#3 The Economy Car Camper. This one made me snort my tea up my nose, but then the brilliance of it hit me and my thoughts began to race with possibilities for our old Dodge Intrepid car. A while back our Intrepid (my late father-in-law called it an Interpid) was croaked out beside the road and some doofus stopped and offered $200 for it as salvage.  Begone, Sir Scavenger! We will fashion our own Interpid Camper Car before accepting that outrageously insulting offer.

crazy rvs

#2 The Weenie Dog Camper Car This one just makes me happy. What a funny outfit!

olds rv

#1 The Camper Plane Traveling just couldn’t get any better than driving down the open-road in that rig. Amazing. What wonders must the inside of that machine hold? I wish they had at least left some little stub wings on it, though.

plane camper

Which of these RVs are your favorites? Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Until next time, thanks so much for reading again. God bless all y’all and enjoy For King and Country singing Fix My Eyes.