Emojis At The Ranch Pen

About three years ago, our oldest son showed me how to turn on the emojis on my iPhone and it changed the way I communicate. I love emojis. They’re great. (Or, Fantastic 👌🏽 as the POTUS says.)

Like many writers, I write because it’s easier than talking. Left to my natural state, I can go days without opening my mouth to do more than mumble to myself. Imagine my delight to discover the emoji factory made it possible to communicate without the spoken or written word. 👍🏼👏🏼

I’m getting older and not very hip, so I fully identified with a funny post at the Babylon Bee (a Christian spoof news source), about a poor old pastor who responded to sad texts with the 😂 instead of the 😭 while comforting his parishioners.

One of the most enjoyable uses for emojis is conversing with the grandkids before they learn to read and talk and even afterwards. This is a portion of an emoji conversation I might have with the granddaughters:

💐👩🏼‍🌾👰🏼💃🏽👗👠👒👛🐱🐹🦋🦄

To which I might reply:

😊❤️

The grandsons communications go like this:

☠️🍕🍟🍔🏹🎣🥊🤺🏍🔪💣⚔️🚬🗡 and 🔫

To which I might reply: 😳😊

(They’re all homeschooled or they would probably be expelled from their classes by now. That’s one of the disadvantages of homeschooling–mom can’t expel her students for chewing their pizza into the shape of a gun, and so forth. She would if she could some days. Don’t ask me how I know.)

The emoji factory used to include a real looking handgun in the weapons selection. It was always included in grandson transmissions to me and it was also a favorite of mine. It conveyed the expression I often use after a trying day and there is one more ridiculous thing to deal with. “Just shoot me now!” I sometimes screech. With emojis the expression could be conveyed like this:

😖 🔫

Gramps or my sis would know exactly what was meant, but a while back, the politically correct emoji police took the real looking gun out of the weapons cache and I find it irritating 😠. (And really. A water gun? Just shoot me now with a water gun! loses something along the way.)

Do the emoji police not know ⚔️🗡💣🔪🚬🤛🏼👨🏼‍⚕️🐔(bird flu ) ⚡️🔥(arson) 🌪🌭🥃🚗(drunk driving) 🥃 (alcohol related disease) 🚙 (auto crashes) 📱(texting while driving) 🔨⛓💉💊 kill way more people than guns do? Where are the rubber swords, smoke bombs, candy cigarettes, hot wheels cars, cans of root beer? 🤷‍♀️

I’m just saying. Violence is a problem of the human heart and if somebody is determined to shoot another human being, only having access to the water gun emoji in texts isn’t going to change that.

As always, thanks for reading 📖. God bless all y’all and until next time ✌🏼 and enjoy The Isaacs doing The Three Bells a song popular back in the day when the Browns did it.

 

You Think You Got It Bad At The Ranch Pen

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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.

 

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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.

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.

 

Just Stroking The Ol’ Chin Whisker At The Ranch Pen

image via somewhere on the internet

image via somewhere on the internet

I was going to write one of my countrified odes such as Ode To a Green Cow Dog, Ode To a Little Goat (deceased), and Trumpet of the Schwan Man in honor of National poetry month, but couldn’t think of anything that rhymed with orange, so abandoned that idea.

Then I sat brainstorming (I use the term loosely) other blog post ideas. Hmm… Maybe I could share my mushroom growing experiment with step by step pictures, including the ones with the mold? No. Limited interest since they were just plain mushrooms and not the psychedelic kind.

Maybe other spring chores I’ve been attending, such as house and yard cleaning…?

Painting old furniture with chalk paint…?

What all is going on with the crops and cattle…?

Grandkids…?

I stroked my chin whisker deep in thought. That’s when the thought hit me.

I seriously need to pluck that thing.

Then I argued with myself. Naw. I’ll have to get up and find the tweezers and nobody’ll notice one little whisker except Gramps, anyway.

But…he wouldn’t have married me if he had known I’d have whiskers in thirty-five years. You know he wouldn’t have.

Good grief. What am I thinking? He didn’t have that weird eyebrow hair back then, either. Or, hair in his ears. That’s what I’ll tell him if he brings it up.

Oh, piddle. Now, this whisker’s gonna drive me nuts…

Excuse me one second…

Okay, back again. We have entered the God-have-mercy season–otherwise known as tornado season–here in Oklahoma. There have been some weak twisters in the areas north and south of us, but all we’ve had are thunderstorms, so far. A few evenings ago, a thunderstorm rolled through and when it left, the light was just right for the super cool pictures below.

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The next pictures are from a different storm and these clouds had hatched some tornados and large hail before they reached us. They were still lazily rotating overhead.

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As always, thanks for reading and until next time, everybody stay safe in the storms. God bless all y’all and enjoy Casting Crowns singing Praise You In This Storm.

In A Nutshell At The Ranch Pen

comic in John Deere's magazine, The Furrow

I don’t have much time this week because spring has sprung in southwest Oklahoma, but I saw this funny cartoon in John Deere’s complimentary (with a fifty-thousand-dollar purchase) magazine called The Furrow and it inspired the blog post as the weirdest things sometimes do.

In a nutshell–or egg shell–we have good news. The lazy chickens finally got off their tail feathers and started laying after taking the winter off, so our eggs are rapidly becoming more affordable. The first egg or two we got a couple weeks ago probably came in at about eighty bucks apiece. Now? Approximately twenty-dollars a dozen. They’re really tasty, though.

 

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fresh eggs

Also, we’ve got two of the finest things in life coming along–asparagus and rhubarb. Southwestern Oklahoma summers are unfriendly to rhubarb, but as a transplant from the cooler climes of Colorado, I’ve babied mine along for the past couple of decades. In a nutshell, the occasional rhubarb pie is reward enough for the effort.

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asparagus

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rhubarb

I’ve decided not to grow a real garden because of a horrible tomato virus in the ground of my garden spot, so I planted some veggies in these grow bags.

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kale, brussels sprouts, and tomato plants in grow bags

In a nutshell, I think those super nifty grow bags are destined to failure because of the gardening enthusiast pictured below. Many times, I have gone out of a morning to find Nellie has been busily uprooting my pots while I slept.  She always looks puzzled while I reel around clutching my head and howling with disappointment and rage.

Nellie, the nosiest dog in the world

Nellie, the nosiest dog in the world

Nellie’s brother, Trace, got an unfortunate haircut around the head and neck before I gave up and ordered some better clippers. He doesn’t seem particularly troubled about looking like he narrowly escaped Todd Sweeney, the deranged barber in the story The String of Pearls, who dispatches his victims by pulling a lever as they sit in his barber chair and lets them fall backward down a revolving trapdoor into the basement of his shop. Generally, the fall is enough to do them in, but Sweeney goes to the basement to make sure. If they haven’t croaked, he polishes them off with his clippers straight razor. After Todd robs his victims, Mrs. Lovett–his partner in crime–helps him dispose of the bodies by baking their flesh into meat pies and selling them in her pie shop. (You may read more about that in Wikipedia. That’s what I do.)

Unfortunate Trace

Trace, unfortunate, but not baked into a savory meat pie, at least

Speaking of unfortunate. A few days ago, I stooped to pick up something near the fish pond and almost picked up the garden snake pit viper lying there with a frog in its mouth. Both frog and viper seemed puzzled by me jumping around screaming and doing my freak-out dance. Apparently, the frog was too far down the gullet to spit out, so the pit viper hoisted it into the air using all the muscles in its thumb-sized neck and laboriously slid away to dine in private while I threw things at it. In a nutshell, it’s hard to hit a viper while leaping about.

Bearing that in mind, look at the box hedge below. Looks pretty harmless, doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s the home of that same pit viper, or a close relative. I did not know that until I was trimming the hedge with the electric hedge clippers and the viper poked up its head to warn me away. Screaming and jabbing with the hedge clippers clattering away on high speed, I determined to dispatch the puzzled viper for once and all. It’s hard to cut off a viper’s head while leaping about. I’m pretty sure it escaped, but I didn’t return to make sure. In a nutshell, I’m no Todd Sweeney.

The viper pit

The viper pit

The next two pictures are just for purty.

Winter wheat in southwest OK with wind turbines in background

Winter wheat in southwest OK with wind turbines in background

Cattle on spring pasture, a beautiful sight in southwest OK

Cattle on spring pasture, a beautiful sight in southwest OK

That’s it in a nutshell. Until next time, thanks for reading and God bless all y’all while you enjoy Geoff Moore doing When I Get Where I’m Goin’.

 

 

 

 

Two Dog Nights Again At The Ranch Pen

As I mentioned a while back, our beautiful dog Nellie was ravished by a nincompoop and had puppies in a den she dug beneath a trailer top set four inches off the ground. (below)

We couldn’t see the puppies for several weeks, but then I thought–in my wishful way–I could detect four little heads back there in the dark den. The grandkids thought perhaps five. When the pups were about a month old they tottered into daylight. (below)

 

first glimpse of Nellie’s puppies

It turned out we had underestimated. Seven puppies crawled out of the den. The next week they looked like this:

And then like this:

Pretty soon we had this:

Blondie in puppy love

Then we had this:

And poor Nellie looked like this:

Nellie was a super-good mama dog, but her puppies were sucking the juices from her body, leaving her a shriveled up old hag before her time. They were also putting a big hole in Gramps’ pocketbook, taking down bag after bag of dog food. As for careworn ol’ Danni–who didn’t want to do a Cruella DeVil and make coats out of Nellie and Nincompoop’s puppies–the pups weighed heavily upon her heart. How would she find good homes for so many chow hounds? So, she did what she does and got busy praying.

As a result, the next week when the puppies were eight weeks old, the grandkids found homes for three of them with cattlemen attending the livestock auction, a friend adopted two of them, and then two young dads took the last two pups for their kids. I feel confident all went to good homes and that is much to be thankful for. 

Trace and Nellie, all the dogs a person could wish for

Trace and relieved Nellie, all the good ol’ dogs Gramps and Danni need

Thanks so much for reading. God bless all y’all and enjoy Matt Maher and his friends tearin’ up All the People Said Amen.