Cranky At The Ranch Pen

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.

Thank you for reading my rant. God bless all y’all and enjoy one of my favorites, Buddy Greene singing I Don’t Belong.

 

 

 

 

 

A Budding Young Novelist At The Ranch Pen

Einstein, the author

Einstein, the author

 

Today, I’m pleased to announce my collaboration with a budding young novelist on his first book, The Squirrel’s Happy Day. The novelist, our five-year-old grandson, Einstein, is a young man his gramps has likened to “a bagful of bobcats”, so his whacking out an illustrated book, the companion audiobook, and an interview with the author–all before lunchtime–was a breeze.

As most novelists have experienced, Einstein’s story started out about one thing–the evil horse named Vader–but changed in mid-stream to accommodate a different and better protagonist, Chippy the Squirrel. Einstein took this developement in his nimble-witted stride and just went with his gut. The result is fabulous and Einstein has left his options open for a series of tales about Chippy.

*Mistakes in the text are solely those of Einstein’s scribe, Danni.

Without further ado, I present The Squirrels’ Happy Day followed by an interview with the author.

Vader the Evil Horse

Vader the Evil Horse

Chippy and his father, Eye-Socket

Chippy and his father, Eye-Socket with their knives

Chippy's mother, Darlene, and the evil shark, Maul

The evil horse, Vader, plotting with Maul and the evil pig, Kyle Rent

The evil horse, Vader–with a slight anatomical peculiarity–plotting with Maul and the evil pig, Kyle Rent

Chippy's father, Eye-Socket, in his super powers lab

Chippy’s father, Eye-Socket, in his super powers lab

Chippy fights Maul the shark/bear

Chippy blasting away, Vader and Kyle Rent running away extremely fast

Chippy blasting away, Vader and Kyle Rent running away extremely fast

Victorious Chippy all grown up with a mustache

Victorious Chippy all grown up with a mustache. The End

 

Interview with the author, Einstein McGrifith.

Danni: Okay, we’re here today with Einstein who has written a fabulous book, The Squirrels’ Happy Day. How did you get the idea for this story, Einstein?

Einstein: Well…We had a pet squirrel before and one day, he came to our house and gathered nuts…a lot. One day, we moved to another house and we didn’t get to see him, so…

Danni: You always remembered that squirrel, didn’t you? Did it have a name?

Einstein: Fred

Danni: You changed his name to Chippy in the story, didn’t you?

Einstein: Yes

Danni: Well, that’s very cool. Do you have plans to write more stories about Chippy in the future?

Einstein: Yes

Danni: Do you have any idea what your second book in the Chippy series might be about?

Einstein: A book where Chippy is protecting his family from hunters.

Danni: So, it’s gonna be more geared towards human hunters rather than the evil types of animals that were in your first story?

Einstein: Yes.

Danni: Will Vader be in your second story?

Einstein: No.

Danni: Did Vader and Kyle Rent survive the battle, or did they crawl off to die?

Einstein: They came to a hill and used it as a camp. Hunters found them and hunted them down.

Danni: Oh, so, they actually aren’t a threat to the squirrels anymore?

Einstein: No.

Danni: It’s these hunters that turn on the squirrels, now?

Einstein: Yes.

Danni: Well, Einstein, it’s been a pleasure to visit with you today and I was really happy to collaborate with you on your book and write your words down. I thought your pictures were amazing…I really did. I think that I’ll keep them forever.

*****

Let me just mention here that Einstein’s interview was truly a pleasure. He was extremely professional and heart-breakingly sweet.

As always, thank you so much for reading. If you want to encourage Einstein in the comments, I will pass them along to him. Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy the Oak Ridge Boys singing Thank God For Kids.

 

Comfort At The Ranch Pen

I was born into a family with a lot of aunts on my mother’s side–eleven, counting my uncles’ wives–and yesterday, the family gathered to lay another one of them in the ground. She was a good’un and while she was in her eighties and ready to go, my sense of the ridiculous that powers most of my blog posts has deserted me today.

Therefore, I’m going to post this piece of scripture the preacher read at the funeral service yesterday. It’s from the first letter to the Thessalonians and I hope it comforts y’all like it does me.

 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

What, Me Worry? At The Ranch Pen

Public-Domain-Alfred-E-Neuman

That image, for those who don’t know, is Alfred E. Neuman, the face of Mad magazine since the 1950’s. My dad used to do a creditable imitation of Alfred when one of the front teeth fell out of his top denture plate and he went around grinning and saying, “What? Me Worry?”.

I can’t recommend Mad Magazine as Christian reading material, but while I was putting together this post, I visited Mad’s website and pulled the graphic below from Mad’s Horrifying Cliches. Maybe one needs to be a writer to fully appreciate horrifying cliches, but this one is too funny.

MAD-Magazine-Horrifying-Cliches-Insane-Cackle_54e3bad09a9ea0.48354038

Oh, goodness. I have released an insane cackle, or two, in my time.

Let’s see. What was I talking about…? Oh, yes. Worry.

As almost all good mothers do, I have a tendency toward worry. My late father-in-law used to tell me, “Quit wearyin’ your mind, Snooks.” His words did help. My annoyance at the term Snooks made me forget to worry for a while. Now, m’dear Gramps–who has always been an Alfred E. Neuman type, too–often exhorts me to “Settle down and go to sleep. You can’t do nothin’ about it before morning, anyhow.” He knows better than to call me Snooks, but when I’m in worry mode I find his advice just as annoying as his dad’s used to be.

However, worriers rejoice! I found a sign in the western wear store last weekend that vindicates us, at last.

IMG_0898

(I worried about laying down sixteen bucks for that sign, so just took a picture instead)

Unfortunately, sometimes the things that never occurred to us to worry about DO happen. Like drunk drivers’ that crash into our lives as one did to my middle son in November. Anyone who has had a drunk driver wreak havoc and heartache in their family knows why the organization Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is called MADD. Good mothers have gone to bat for their kid all the kid’s life. That’s in the job description. Drunks, however, leave mothers swinging at the air–addicts hardly ever take responsibility for their actions. So, we cope as best we can. As a Christian, I’m thankful for the peace I find in Jesus when I remember He’s got this handled. He was there, after all, when Venus was carefully placed in the evening sky like she has been lately, an abiding and silent reminder that there is One mightier than I who still makes order and beauty in the world. I’m grateful for that.

IMG_0831

A  southwest Oklahoma sunset with Venus to the right of the tree

Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy Jamie Wilson and her friends tearin’ up, Ain’t No Grave.

*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just love their music.

 

Top Ranch Pen Posts Of 2014–#1

Finally, the number one most viewed post makes me laugh. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined anyone would turn to my blog for technical advice, but there we have it. Just call me the female Bill Gates of the rural blogosphere. Hopefully, you’ll find these instructions helpful, too, if you have a 4S or 5S iPhone. I don’t know if they’re still relevant for the 6 models. Since writing my techie post about it, I prefer this super-clunky way of making my phone read from the Kindle app, but I don’t know…I might be persuaded to use an easier method if some giant brain figures out how to activate the feature straight from the app.

*****

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.

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.

*****

I hope y’all have enjoyed the most viewed posts from the Ranch Pen and as we launch into the new year, I pray God’s blessings on all of you. Enjoy a final Christmas song, The Piano Guys tearin’ up Carol Of The Bells.

*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like ’em.

John Denver Trivia At The Ranch Pen

oklahoma sunrise

Sunrise on the homeplace

Gramps and I took some time off the past two weeks to celebrate our wedding anniversary and to visit friends who live in the middle of Kentucky–another world away from our farm in Oklahoma.

On our return, we headed west out of Oklahoma City onto the open prairie and I was reminded of an old John Denver song from the last century–1970’s, I believe–called Back Home Again. And that in turn, reminded me of some John Denver trivia.

Now, if you don’t know who John Denver was, you’re probably under forty-years-old and you’ll just have to Google his name. For those over forty, you might best remember him as a hippie-type from Colorado who sang such songs as Take Me Home Country Roads, Annie’s Song, Rocky Mountain High, and Thank God I’m A Country Boy. I’ve loved his music all my life and was sad when his life took a crummy turn with drugs and alcohol and his personal life apparently in shambles. He ended up crashing his airplane and died in his fifties.

So, getting to the trivia. On a bluff overlooking the Washita River not far from our house, there used to be a tall, old-style Oklahoma farmhouse with a single chimney and a wrap-around porch. Uninhabited for many years, the house’s board siding had weathered to grey and the wind had torn off much of the roofing and beat on the house’s south side so that it leaned toward the north a little.

Every time we drove past that place with my late father-in-law, he would say, “John Denver used to live there. Name was Deutschendorf then.” I was always skeptical because my father-in-law (wearing his denim overalls and Farmer’s Co-op cap) was hardly an expert on popular culture. However, he always declared John Denver had lived in that house on the bluff with his grandparents.

One day, I Googled it. John Denver’s name was indeed Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., he apparently had an unsettled childhood, his grandparents lived in Oklahoma, and his grandmother allegedly gave him his first guitar. Putting all that together, I can see how he might have lived in that house on the bluff overlooking the Washita River with his grandma and where his song, Thank God I’m A Country Boy, might have come from.

Sadly, a few years ago that house burned down. Big rolls of hay are usually stacked there, now, but Gramps keeps the memory of the old house alive. Every time we drive past he says, “John Denver used to live there. Name was Deutschendorf then. House burned down a few years ago…”

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed that bit of trivia, for what it’s worth. Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy John Denver singing Back Home Again.

 

[youtube.com/watch?v=k1sjOg8TFYw]

 

Oh, why not…Here’s Thank God I’m A Country Boy, too.

[youtube.com/watch?v=UOjQwyVbJl4]

We Love Books At The Ranch Pen

05b-bookworm-4~s600x600

Here at the Ranch Pen, we love books whether they’re the old fashioned paper kind, the electronic reader kind, or the audiobook. One I’ve been re-reading in audiobook format, and can’t recommend enough, is C.S. Lewis’ classic, The Screwtape Letters.  Brilliant.

Another type of book I recommend are the graphic novels for children called the Illustrated Classics. These books are classic literature in an abridged, comic book format that appeals to kids. Books like The Call of the Wild, Oliver Twist, The Scarlet Letter, Kidnapped, and even the story of the guy with the big honker, Cyrano de Bergerac, are broken down in a way kids remember and helps them untangle the original classics later on.

Recently I was honored to receive a pre-release copy of my writer friend, Erin’s, book Surviving Henry to read and review.

Surviving Henry is in bookstores as well as online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble where you can grab a copy for yourself or to give as a gift. 

 

From the back cover:

Sometimes you seek out love. And sometimes it broadsides you.

You don’t always know what you’re getting into when you bring home a puppy. You hope for laughs and cuddles, long walks and a wagging tail. And sometimes you get . . . Henry.

Henry is a boxer who suffers from Supreme Dictator of the Universe Syndrome. He vandalizes his obedience school, leaps through windows, cheats death at every turn, and generally causes his long-suffering owner Erin Taylor Young to wonder what on earth she did wrong that God would send this dog to derail her life.

But this rogue torpedo of a dog wasn’t sent to torment his owner–well, not just to torment her. Through all the hair-pulling and questioning of her own sanity, Erin learns something very powerful from Henry, a dog who brings new meaning to the concept of unconditional love.

Through his laugh-out-loud antics and jaw-dropping escapades, Henry will careen into your life and steal your heart.

Erin and I compared naughty dog stories throughout the time she was working on Surviving Henry, so some of the events I already knew about, but I laughed out loud anyway. Erin is hilarious and a super nice lady who I’m sure never deserved a dog like Henry. I’m a dog person, but the book is really for anybody who has been tempted to give up on a dog, a spouse, a kid, or any other difficult individual one is committed to. And Erin quoted me in her book…I’m so excited! Watch for the rancher friend unfortunately experienced in electric shocks.

As always, thanks so much for reading. Until next time, God bless all y’all and enjoy Casting Crowns tearin’ up their awesome song, Thrive.

[youtube.com/watch?v=8URVJDFuTtg]

*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just love their music