Trees and Me (a seasonal allergy rant)

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I hate trees. Well, I love trees, too. But the pollen they emit in the spring is enough to nearly kill me. Or, at least I think I’m dying.

First I start to sneeze, then I get congested, and it goes down into my bronchials and I begin to rattle and have asthma.Then my sinuses ache in a big way and I get a horrible headache. I hate it all. The cause for all the pain and misery is my own immune system, going haywire and thinking I’ve been invaded by something that must die.

So my immune system is killing me. I’m not alone. One out of three of us suffer from seasonal pollen allergies, so it is a serious situation. Symptoms include a runny nose, watery eyes, a sore throat, a cough and chest congestion, and sinus pain and swelling. So right away, the quality of a sufferer’s life has suffered a major hit.

The immune system is on overdrive, so anything else that happens to come along, like a rhinovirus, has a perfect medium to begin multiplying itself and causing other symptoms. In severe cases, pneumonia can result; it can also raise havoc with any other condition a person has, such as high blood pressure or heart disease, and can aggravate blood sugar levels in those with diabetes.

In short, seasonal allergies can literally kill you.

The only thing a person can do about this is avoid the allergen, take antihistamines and analgesics (benadryl and NSAIDS), or undergo allergy shots to weaken the effect the allergen has his or her body.

My tactic is to completely ignore it all until it hits, then try like crazy to combat it with an arsenal of pain meds and benadryl. No way I’m taking allergy shots. That takes too much planning and sounds like hocus pocus. The shots are full of the stuff you are allergic too, and they inject that in you, and then you supposedly become immune to the allergen over time. Like,  years. And that is to say if you live through the injections. Yuck. No amount of persistent medical advising can persuade me to go through torture.

So, I go through torture. Maybe, I think, the whole thing will disappear and I can forget I have these incompatibilities with small yellow dust particles that fly in the air for several weeks of the Spring, again in the Summer, and followed by mold off the trees in the Autumn.

Anyone have a better idea?

We are Raising a Generation of Ignoramuses

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Well read, but a dumbass?

Well read, but a dumbass?

I hate to admit it, but I wasn’t always a genius.

OK, I’m not NOW a genius. But I used to be much more stupid than I am now. Born with above-average intelligence and parents who loved to read, write and converse, there was no excuse for my penchant for light reading, skipping across the surface of issues without really understanding them, and refusing to dip my toes outside the comfort zone.

Maybe you can relate. You see, part of the problem was, I was not challenged as a reader or scholar when I went to high school, and certainly I was not pushed past my limits in elementary school. I used to read everything I could get my hands on, and it was all good. Then I ran into Mr. Payne.

Mr. Payne was my English and communications teacher at the community college I attended at 24. I had previous college, but not anything that would transfer, so I started over at square one at Crowder College. Today they call that academic bankruptcy. Today I call that stupidity on my part, for squandering my parents’ willingness to foot my education expenses and then dropping out of school at 18 to set out on the Yellow Brick Road. And now I was back living at home and paying my own way. But that was OK. I was moving along well. Back to Mr. Payne.

Mr. Payne was a teacher in love with teaching, who loved to read and stretched his mind constantly, pushing his limits. He brought that to us, his students, and made us struggle a bit. I was in advanced composition, as my reading and writing skills were above average. At this point, realize this was raw talent – not honed, not sharpened, not at all sophisticated. But Mr. Payne was OK with that. One of the texts we studied that semester was the Atlantic Magazine. The Atlantic is a huge step up from Cosmopolitan, my favorite read at the time. I especially loved the horoscopes and the annual horoscope issue. I was on the cutting edge.  In fact, the Atlantic is not what I would term light reading. Similar to Harper’s and Scientific American, the Atlantic required readers to have prerequisites, namely a cursory understanding of the world and the nation around them, a knowledge of the world beyond our own comfort zones, and a thirst for more understanding and knowledge.

I didn’t realize I didn’t have any of that, at least not at the time. My understanding and knowledge at the time were squarely polarized around myself. My interests, my concerns, my love life or lack of love life, and other things I’d rather not mention because I’m not certain of the statute of limitations on certain parts of them. I lacked curiosity and I was wholly devoid of an interest in the greater world.

I was very similar to everybody else in my peer group. Actually, I think I was probably worse than most in my peer group. So, back to Mr. Payne’s class. The magazine was paid for with our tuition money and book rentals, and we were supposed to read it and be able to talk about it in class. We were also supposed to get ideas from it to write as essays. I don’t remember what I read and what I wrote, but I do remember how I felt about it. I was bummed.

Yes, I was too busy to wrap my head around the Atlantic magazine. Years later I did atone for my sins. I got a master’s degree in English literature and became a writer and a teacher, and then studied public policy for five years at the University of Arkansas.

So this morning I’m reading the Springfield News-Leader, a Gannet publication, and I’m reading a column by Kathleen Parker in the editorial section. Parker writes about the Republican field of presidential candidates, that many of them have “demonized a swath of Americans based on their religious views.” For example, Ben Carson’s statement that a Muslim should not be president. Or Joe Biden’s statement about President Obama’s rise to political stardom, which he indicated was possible because “he was the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean, and a nice-looking guy.”

Bigoted comments, all. She also skewers Trump, but enough about him.

Parker infers that the racial and religious bigotry from candidates is deplorable. She calls them ignoramuses, which is a good word when used properly, so I will attempt that. I think we, many of us, are probably ignoramuses. We don’t push ourselves beyond the comfort level, and instead stay cocooned in our safe lives, reading and watching and surfing only those places that are easy for us to reach. We are raising another crop of ourselves, too, and that should worry us.

As a teacher, I feel compelled to help us on our quest. On a lark, I looked up what was in the Atlantic magazine the fall of 1974. And guess what? I found free online archives. This is a link to the 1974 issues, but feel free to move along to the ones here. I now wish I had paid more attention in Mr. Payne’s class, because the articles are really good. But I’m not going to belabor the point. After all, Mr. Payne was able to take us to the trough, but he couldn’t make us drink. Not then, anyway. But later I give him all the credit.


Hard Times

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I’m reposting this blog entry, just to remind people that no matter how bad it gets, it will change. Now, I didn’t say it would get better – I just said it would change. When I wrote this, I had just met a very nice guy, Mike Ward, who lived in Garfield, Arkansas. We were dating and he was acting serious, and I was not so sure I was ready for that. I had just started a new job, and it was boring me to tears. What I didn’t know is that Mike would ask me to marry him, I would accept his ring at Christmas, and that he would die of lung cancer on May 1, 2013. So see, it gets different. Not necessarily better. BUT, and this is an important but, I met Michael Kaup, almost accidentally, but definitely online, in August 2013. Immediately it was like coming out of the cold and into the warmth of a healthy relationship. Neither of us could believe we got so lucky. So, things change. And sometimes they get better. OK, enough about the old blog post. Enjoy.

Far Out on the Farm


This is not the usual funny post. I don’t feel funny. Today was not a good day, and I had a mini meltdown in the car. I’m not telling you this because I want pity. It’s just that sometimes I think people think I’ve been too glib, too happy and brave for someone in my situation. Not so. I’ve been whistling in the dark. 

I’ve been a widow for nine months now and counting.

When Larry first died, I got a few books on widowhood to help guide me through this transition. They weren’t all that helpful.  I’ve found that I am not like anyone else, and nobody else is, either. I’ve talked to several other people who are dealing with the aftermath of losing a spouse, and none of us have that many shared experiences. The most common denominator is loneliness.

When you lose someone from your life…

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The Matalin and Carville of Crane?


strang bed 3Someone said about my new husband and I, that we were like the Mary Matalin and James Carville of Crane. Only I’m the liberal one, and he is the Republican.

Today he posted on Facebook that awful picture of a Piper Cub shot up with arrows. The caption stated this is the plane Obama was in when he went to visit the Indian Nations in Oklahoma. Hard to think that is funny, I kept thinking.

Hell, you have to hand it to whomever found that picture. And, it begs the question, how did all those arrows get stuck in that plane?

But what I said was, now you have singlehandedly pissed off two groups of people: First Nationals (aka Indians) and now Obama supporters. He just laughed. It was so, so funny.

And so it begins, the Election year 2016.

strange bed 2Pray for me.

Snow Again????


But they say this may be our last snowstorm. We have about three inches on the ground and that is probably all we are going to get, which would make me supremely happy.

In the meantime, just keeping the dogs out of the snow is a challenge.

I have cabin fever. How about you?

OK, I’m Back


I know you were worried about me, but no need. In December of 2013, I married the best husband on the planet (sorry, girls) and moved permanently to Crane, Mo. So, I no longer live on a farm, but I’m definitely “far out,” and realize that you can take the girl off the farm, but not the farm off the girl. So – the name stays. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the site now, but it will probably contain more of the same. So, sit back, tighten your seat belts, and get ready. An election year is coming up, and I’m feeling feisty.

There is much going on here in Crane. For those unfamiliar with Crane, Mo., let me enlighten you. The sign on Hwy. 413 claims it is the “Neatest Little Town in Missouri.”

I tend to agree. Crane reminds me of my old home town, Noel, Mo., in McDonald County. It has a river, and it has a train. The town is a slice of Americana, complete with apple pie, plus a pool. My house even looks down into the town and the pool, so I can see a lot of action from my back deck. The animals and I enjoy the view. Mike and Heather and I have seven animals: dogs are Pippa the Pit Bull, Sophie the bichon, Allie Mae the miniature schnauzer, and Shiloh Moon, the bichon. Pippa looks ferocious but is a sweetheart, even if the neighbors are wary. Shiloh looks like a sweetheart, but watch out. Cats: Regis, a 30-pound male orange tabby, Annabelle, a 10-pound (maybe) female grey and white tabby, and Fantine, a tortoise-shell female with a bitten ear. All have been neutered, and all have had their shots. They kind of run the place, but I have been successful in getting them somewhat civilized. Well, with help. We are animal people. When visitors arrive at the front door, all hell breaks loose, and it is rather unsettling at first for most.

My main job right now is taking care of the house. We live in a two-story, walkout basement house on four lots. The yard needs lots of work. None of us are good at that around here, so it looks like I am going to need to bone up on my landscaping skills. One time long, long ago, I actually won a landscaping award. But I was only 12 years old. Things have changed. Probably much of this blog will center on my efforts in that regard.

Mike is an accountant here in town. Right now is his busiest time of the year, and he works seven days a week. Starting the end of April, he will begin taking Fridays and weekends off, and I’m looking forward to having his help with the yard. Don’t laugh.

Well, that is enough for now, dear readers. I look forward to seeing you here later.