Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Sod Houses in the 1880s -- South Dakota

 I am always on the lookout for unusual pioneer era prints and such. Since my dad grew up on a dryland farm in Corsica, South Dakota-related items have always held a special fascination.

Lo and behold, these two prints just came up on Ebay:

Go here for more on this print.

Go here for more on this print. (Same seller, by the way.)

Here's what they say about these prints by WV (William Valentine) Herancourt. 

For offer, a nice old litho print! Fresh from a prominent estate in Upstate NY. Never offered on the market until now. 

Extremely rare - I could not locate this print anywhere, and could find very few other prints by this artist. He was from Kansas, and known to have worked in South Dakota, and captured some very important historical scenes.

Fascinating. And based on the 1885 date for one (c.1880 for the other), probably based on real homes. Going for a rare price, too -- but that's to be expected. 

My Opinion About Stuff I Need to Do


Of course, I'm the only one who feels this way...

Monday, May 10, 2021

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Michigan

 Happy Mother's Day to all those moms out there!

We made it to Michigan Friday night, in spite of a blown tire and a bunch of construction traffic through Chicago. (Not to mention that it was National Crazy Driver Week, apparently.) That was plenty of time to celebrate The Mama on her special day, with a nice family lunch. We plan to take her out this week for another tradition: Kentucky Fried Chicken, eaten at the park. But not yet -- it is FREEZING here, in spite of the spring flowers.

    After our months in Arizona and New Mexico, all this green is a visual surprise. But a pleasant one. The daffodils and hyacinths are nearly done blooming, but the lilacs are starting in. They always remind me of my Grandma Cumings, whose purple lilacs were one of my favorite messengers of spring. (Lilacs are "first love," by the way, in the Language of Flowers. This source also calls them "the joy of youth.")

Get your own L of F postcard here.

This week: tidy up the fifth-wheel. I did one vacuuming and filled the canister in ten minutes of sweeping; that's how much dust and doghair kicked up. Ewww. 

Meanwhile, in Colorado:

A woman DRIVES through her ex-boyfriend's funeral service. (She was 'careful not to hit anything,' she later explained to cops.)

Why did President Biden leave the word "God" out of his announcing the National Day of Prayer? 

Who's a Good Boy? Now you know...

A woman finally discovers her biological mom, only to find out she was the victim in a cold case murder recently solved. 

Calling police heroes -- and being berated for it. 

Intruders break into the Queen's Windsor estate -- and have gotten away with it. (So far, at least.)

The Indonesian sub that sank recently may have been hit by an underwater wave -- or series of waves.

Pundits are now acknowledging that you can make more from unemployment than being employed. Especially if you're making under $32,000. So President Biden is warning that if you're in that position and are offered a job -- you should take it. The question: will people actually listen -- and obey?

A very funny spring report on homestead doings by the Frugalwoods.

A history of the lovely 'Dear Jane' quilt. 

Would-be car thieves are stymied..by spraying gasoline at them!  Lucky nobody had a match...

How have Republicans been treated on 'The View?' And Democrats? Megan McCain holds forth.

Twelve things husbands say -- and what they actually mean. (Thanks, Babylon Bee! I laughed...the Brick winced. Mostly. He also --sort of-- listened to helpful hints for guys on housework.)

A Bronze Age jewelry find -- sitting in full view in Sweden. Amazing. 

Europe's first 3-D home...printed in just five days.

So the woman who 'found' Lady Gaga's dogs seems to have been in on the heist in the first place!

Have a great week. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Almost There

     In Clinton, Illinois now. (That's just north of Springfield, in case you're wondering.)

     We slept at a Vinita, OK Walmart last night, and are hunkered down at a Walmart again. This time, though, we're accompanied by at least two other RVs. One couple has a yipey dog that Ruby and Charley are fascinated by. Although it's an all-night Wally, things are quiet, which should make for peaceful sleeping.

     Something happened today, that either of us has ever experienced. We blew a tire on the trailer while going down the road. It just 'happened' that we had pulled off the highway to fuel up a few minutes previous. The Brick was concerned that one of the tires on the truck was leaking, and we couldn't find a station with an air hose to pump it up. 

     We were going down one of the side roads -- slowly -- in St. Clair, MO (about 50 miles from St. Louis) when the tire blew. 

Just exploded. We don't know why -- and neither did the tire place guy.

     One of the NEW tires we had put on while we were in Tucson two weeks ago. 

     Not only did the Brick get the spare on, but we saw a tire place advertised on a billboard as we pulled out and back on the road. And that tire place was right across from where we gassed up!

  Two hours later, we pulled out with a new tire in place, the spare back in position -- and the air checked on all the tires. I even found a penny in the parking lot.

        P.S. The truck tire that caused the delay in the first place? It's fine.   

You can chalk this up to coincidence...but a series of 'just by chance' events, all happening one after the other? We call this a God thing, and are grateful to Him. (Our guardian angels may not be too thrilled at this point, though.) 

On to Sparta, Michigan tomorrow -- and The Mama's Farm. About four more hours to go.

Bye, St. Louis Arch...

Monday, May 3, 2021

Traveling On

 We're in Amarillo, Texas.

                                                           The dogs love going with us.

I can tell you from firsthand experience -- Walmarts the country round look pretty much the same. Even the bright blue signage isn't much different. Not every store will let you stay in the parking lot, but this one does. We're snuggled in, not far from the pallets of fertilizer, under a few shade trees. It's been raining off and on all day, and the rain tinkles off the leaves in a pleasant little sound. The temperature's dropped considerably from yesterday's heat, but with the stove on (we had nachos), we've been very comfortable. A heavier quilt, though, will be on the bed tonight.

I just finished the final edit on the book -- what a relief. Didn't get much sleep while it was happening, because we only had internet access occasionally. And even that wasn't much good; other than the bigger cities, New Mexico is apparently not known for its "wired" capabilities. 

On through the Texas Panhandle tomorrow, then Oklahoma. I figure we'll probably make it into Missouri before we stop for the night. We keep hearing this song on the radio...strangely, it fits.

Deer Creek Boys   "When the Highway Does"

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Gotta Put On Those Traveling Shoes

 On the road again. 

We left extra-quickly from Arrey after the RV park manager stopped by -- someone was waiting to pull into our spot! It's a great place; he'll love it. 

Meanwhile, the Brick put in four-plus hours of driving to get us to a comfortable rest area. It's not far from Santa Rosa, NM; several other RVs are parked here, which is comforting. As well as the usual 14-wheelers. Which is ok, too -- it's the empty rest areas that can be a little unnerving -- and dangerous. 

Our goal: get to The Mama's in time for Mother's Day. It means 4-5 hours of driving each day, which should be doable. It is hot during the day, but a cool breeze at night helps for sleeping. You get used to the perpetual rumbling at rest areas, as well. After a while, it just sounds like a fan running. 

More New Mexico tomorrow -- then Missouri. I think. 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Arrey

     We've spent the weekend in Arrey, NM, a supposed ghost town that's small -- but very much alive. We've been staying at the Arrey RV Park, and luxuriating in all the water and electricity we can use, after nearly a week of traveling by going from rest area to Walmart to rest area. (This is called "dry camping" or "boondocking" when you do it this way.) The park is full of semi-permanent customers, a rather quirky clubhouse (knotty pine, old DVDs, books -- and a pile of free onions) and a very kind manager. The park has more trees, greenery, blooming flowers and twittering birds (cats, too) than we have seen in a long, long time. It's very peaceful here.

The fifth-wheel can handle "dry" camping. But you always have to be aware how many lights you have on (because they use up the battery life generated by the solar panels) and how much water you have. (We have a 60-gallon tank, so we can go quite a while.) 

     We have more than enough solar panels up top to generate the power we normally need -- but they're not in sync with the batteries and the static inverter. The Brick plans on tinkering with this after we get to The Mama's in Michigan. We'll be there for Mother's Day, but plan to take most of this week for traveling. It's no fun to rush while pulling a fifth-wheel. We've done it before, and it guts you out. So we'll take our time...and probably go from rest area to Walmart to rest area again. 

In case you're wondering about Arrey, it's about halfway between Hatch and Truth or Consequences, off Interstate 25. We've noticed pecan orchards and several large chile packing plants. (And yes, we stopped in Hatch for some ristras and a bag of fresh-roasted green chiles.)

Arrey was a Hispanic farming community named Bonito (Spanish for "pretty") when the Elephant Butte Land and Cattle Co. bought homestead rights. Among the homesteaders: Tomas Baca and Urbano Arrey, who came totown from Las Palomas in 1891 and was the town's first postmaster. The post office opened in 1901 and never closed. Descendants of the homesteaders still ranch and farm in the area.

The local cafe has a killer steak special on Friday nights. The people are hard-working and proud. There's a reason we've been staying here so long -- but you'll have to wait until later to find out!

Not much "stuff" this week -- we've not had a lot of access to the internet. I'll make it up to you soon.

"What was a meal you loved as a kid...but didn't realize you were eating it because you were poor?" This one has LOTS of answers, and they're interesting ones.  (From Quora)

Easy homemade bread.  (From the Cheapskate Cook)

Choosing to be homeless -- some very sad reasons here.

The Italian version of Robinson Crusoe is finally leaving his island -- after 32 years.

Amish sugar cookies.  (From Taste of Home) 

Renovators at the Uffizi Gallery find a hidden fresco -- and bones. 

Olympia Dukakis died Saturday. A wonderful actress I have admired ever since Moonstruck. She was 89.

Have a great week.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Frugal Hits & Misses: April Report

      Half of this month was spent finishing up our volunteer commitments for Ethnos360. Two months -- wow! In some ways, the time was long -- yet some days rushed by. It was sad to leave our friends here...especially our young friends David and Allison. We will miss them. 

Every time a plane or helicopter came close, all the staff members' heads would snap up alertly. It was often their husbands or friends flying. Checking made sense! But it did look amusing -- like prairie dogs, checking for danger.

     I will also miss the helicopters zooming by. One did some fancy maneuvers not far from the trailer, just before we left, and the Brick caught it in photos. So fun to watch this! 

Did my head start snapping up, prairie dog-style, whenever I heard engines? You bet.

The second half of the month, we wandered for a bit... then met our kids in Tucson. After a week spent there, staying with friends, getting new tires on the fifth-wheel and visiting some wonderful gem show dealers, we hit the road again. Now on the way to Truth or Consequences -- and exploring a lost treasure story. More on this in the near future. 

                                            Texas Canyon rest area -- not far from Benson, AZ


Some of these were in late March. NOTE:  I realize that I often tell you about what the Brick would call "pennyanny" stuff. But it's things like these that add up in the long run. I read somewhere: "Save on the necessities -- then you can afford the luxuries." It's true.

*Stayed put half the month in McNeal. We worked by volunteering -- but Ethnos360 provided free electricity, water and access to laundry. A big help. (We also donated some cash to pay our way.)

*Wildflowers and green sprigs for our table -- finally, something is greening up in the desert!

Hey, if that's all you can get, you enjoy it!

                 The rosemary hedges at Ethnos360 were just finishing up blooming.

*Grocery deals:  A $2.03 apple pie. From Amazon: 20-cent packages of various chips, Cheetos, etc. and 35-cent packages of fancy ramen noodles, Cheetos, etc; #10 cans of chorizo 'hash' (great in burritos) and corned-beef hash. (These were all markdowns on Amazon Warehouse Deals -- free shipping.) A free dozen eggs in McNeal. Not that many buys at the grocery stores, except produce -- which has uniformly been cheaper than Colorado, in nearly all cases. (Potatoes and onions excepted) Real homemade tortillas have been a bonus, even when they cost about the same as the commercial version. 

*Imported coffee from Laos and Papua, New Guinea -- direct from the coffee plantation, via a missionary! We don't mind spending a bit extra ($12/lb) when it directly benefits the grower. Both kinds have been delicious. (We got enough to give some to friends and the kids, as well.)

*Spring rolls and potstickers -- luxury items, right? Nope, one - or two-serving packages are one shiny buck each at Dollar Tree. (Asian food has been rare, for the most part, where we've been staying. These, as well as the sauces and spices I keep on hand, help fix the cravings.)

Tucson had all sorts of blooming cactus

*Made some meals for friends...and the kids, including our adopted McNeal ones. Saved a lot from going out to eat.

                                                                  The McNeal version

*Continued to work with what was available -- versus what the recipes specified. It's amazing what you can do by varying the dish. Beans, nuts and dry items help. We've been using up quite a few cans of things, as well, which lightens weight in the fifth-wheel.

*Cleaned out the freezer...and discovered several packages of meat and fruit I didn't know I had. Steak for breakfast!

*A large wood Victorian-style dollhouse kit: $8! Our friends' children loved this impromptu gift, which I found some months ago at a Colorado thrift shop. 

*McNeal volunteering -- The Brick worked on renovating the house. (He worked on a toilet for the house -- and also installed our new toilet.) I did some editorial work; made some more meals (or contributed to them); worked on the quilt for the sampler quilt class (and offered encouragement and tips via text); painted some trim at the house under renovation; and did the final cleanup on the laundry building. 

*From the "Missions Barrel:" found a t-shirt, some nice gold sequin trim and a few books to take on the road. Donated more stuff, including cleaning supplies and toilet paper for the laundry building. (We'd been using it the past two months -- just made sense.)

*More free books -- from the Lordsburg public library. A t-shirt and tunic from a Tucson thrift shop: $4. (My t-shirts have been wearing out. Big-time. Now for some 'new' jeans.)

*Found a penny! (backseat of the truck) Two more in the wash.

*A final edit on the new book: The cover's looking great, and text has gone through the final copyedit. This book is going to happen!

*Bought a package of online training classes -- $39 from the New York Post. This will help expand my work online, particularly in the video area. 

*Couldn't attend a Michigan birthday party in honor of our Dad -- so we sent a cake, instead. 

*The Brick registered for hunting...hopefully, we'll have a Big Hairy Friend for supper this fall. (He also renewed his drivers license online -- one of the few benefits of the Covid effect.)

*Two Ethnos360 t-shirts and a ballcap -- $22 total. Our friends threw in a couple of keychains, too. The Brick went back later and got the $5 mug he craved. (Which, it turned out, that we needed -- you'll see why later.)

*Free boondocking and dry camping spots -- no phone or internet in some places, but that was actually a blessing most days. Used the hotspot on my phone to get work done. (And send this post, incidentally.) The rest areas have been open -- but any welcome centers/free information spots have not. Victims of Covid.

                                                    Texas Canyon rest area, near Benson, AZ

*A few new gigs scheduled!  I also did several appraisals.

*Just one purchase at the gem shows: a curved petrified shell that's perfect for a paperweight. We saw plenty of other pieces, and at good prices. (It was the last week of the shows.) Just wasn't convinced they wouldn't shatter during travel.

*Stayed with kind friends in Tucson -- filled up our water, and did laundry, as well. (The sweethearts)


*New tires for the fifth-wheel. They were needed; one has been consistently losing air. (small sigh) The bill: roughly $1000. At least it includes a road hazard warranty. 

     More repairs and replacements are needed, but we'll get those done in Michigan. Maintenance, maintenance.

*A broken shackle bolt on a trailer wheel -- $20, and $109 to install it. It's ok -- we expected much worse. Because we hit an especially high railroad crossing. Which caused things in the fifth-wheel to bang around. So:

*A mug smashed when I opened a cupboard. One of the Brick's favorites, too. Actually, a jar of pickle relish bounced out, and landed right on the mug. (sigh) Two candles also cracked badly, but are still usable. Considering the bumpiness we've been enduring during travel, this is minor. 

*Some spills and crashes, foodwise. A jar of chili garlic sauce. Some dried milk. (Didn't waste much produce, though -- which was an improvement.)

*More spent on gas and supplies toward the end of the month... but it was expected. 

*Ate out in Tucson. A lot. Including a GREAT Ethiopian restaurant and outstanding Mexican food. 

*Got to keep a copy of our friend Neil's magazine article -- because I spilled coffee on it. Ordered a fresh issue, and extended his subscription, as a little thank you. (What an idiot I am.)

*No money coming back from the world cruise cancellation. The last credit card company turned down our appeal. Yes, we can take this off as a business loss on taxes, because I've written extensively about it. But still...

Here's last month's report.  And April's report from 2020. (We were finally home from the world cruise.)

Denny Gresham

 We're in Lordsburg, NM, now, hunkered down at the New Mexico Welcome Center. We stopped at the library here to do some research...and the Brick started feeling really ill. Time to stop for the night.

It's not Covid, just some nasty flu. Fortunately, after an afternoon and night's sleep, he's feeling better. 

What did set us back, though, was the news of Denny Gresham's murder. 

We've known Denny since babyhood. His parents played and sang with us on Worship Team, and I often covered their insurance office when they were on vacation. They were -- and are -- multi-talented people who were close friends for many years. 

Their son Denny was smart, resourceful -- and had the same sense of humor I loved so much in his parents. He moved to Sheridan, WY; one of his jobs was designing car washes! He'd been supposed to pick up a friend from the airport, and never showed up. Turns out he'd been accosted by a couple at the campground he was staying at -- and shot, after they took his van away from him. 

The couple crashed the van -- and both fled. The man killed himself during a shootout with police. The woman has been arrested. 

What a waste. What a tragedy. They killed a wonderful guy. 

Denny leaves his wife Megan and two small sons, 5 and 2. If you can, please consider contributing to their Go Fund Me account.

Monday, April 26, 2021

I Was Just Doing My Job...


We've been staying with friends in the Tucson area. This morning, while we were starting to pack up, the repairman arrived -- their garage door broke. While he was fixing it, he also left the door to the house open. Charley and Ruby just strolled right in.

And where was our friends' dog, Doc, while all this was happening? Getting Himself scratched by the Brick -- over by the gate! 

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Tucson

      We've had a good time in Tucson. 

      While Daughter #2 and Son #1 bought items for their business, Phenomenal Gems, we traipsed along behind. We saw a lot of beautiful stones this time around -- and considered adding some to our collection, but refrained. (Not enough room in the fifth-wheel, and the bumping around could easily break some of the more fragile pieces. Sigh.) But we did enjoy some great meals, including Mexican and Ethiopian, and it was wonderful to be able to spend time with our kids. We've missed them. A lot.

     They're heading back to Colorado -- and we're on our way a bit north to New Mexico. What will we be doing, this week? Hunting for lost treasure!


Call your dad "The Chequebook," treat him that way.. and see what happens in his will. As in 7 million pounds not willed to his daughters, after all. (They argued that they should get it, anyways, for "maintenance" -- and lost.)

Here are the winners of the 2021 Oscars. No, we didn't watch. No, we were not impressed, either. 

A high school relay race in Utah -- but the dog wins!

An amazing local artist (to Arizona, anyways) -- Phoenix-based Papay Solomon. Take a look at his Facebook page. I'm betting we hear more about this man in the future. 

Happy Anzac Day to our Aussie friends!

Rep. Maxine Waters came into town to protest police action (and demand their defunding) -- but she was also careful to request a police escort for protection during her trip.   Huh??

Incredible photos produced by drones.   These are especially good because you can view them by scrolling down -- instead of the interminable page-flipping. 

An unusual interview with a Russian model -- married to a Hollywood mogul. I was surprised at the honesty and resourcefulness expressed by this lady. 

A strange Albanian visit to an old church -- and a pile of bones. (From Travel with Kevin and Ruth -- one of my favorite RV bloggers)

Just watched two Shirley Temple movies, including The Little Princess. I'd forgotten what an instinctively good dancer she was, at such a young age. Here are 5 moments (the first one is my favorite)

And another look at 'Old Kent Road:'

Chocolate chip sea salt cookies. Just don't sprinkle a few when you invite me over -- I'm allergic.  (From One Hundred Dollars A Month)

A new documentary on the Death House Landlady -- who wiped out her indigent renters, after she collected their money. What a scary woman.

Best advice for graduates. (From Making Sense of Cents)

A five-year-old and a bobcat face off...in Castle Rock, CO, our old hometown!        

Another great dance by Gregory Hines -- and several other incredible tap performers, including Sammy Davis, Jr.:

A little boy wants to stay -- and his uncle says he'll help. Let him!

All of the unrest, including looting, in the big cities? It's all make-believe. (Guess who's being accused of making it up.) 

Ex-president George Bush reveals who he voted for in 2020 -- and it's not who you'd think.

A cash treasure trove -- $46,000 found under the floorboards.

What makes a good side hustle? Retireby40's got some ideas.

During Prince Philip's funeral, his widow carried a photo of them as newlyweds -- and his favorite embroidered pocket square handkerchief. Our condolences, Queen Elizabeth. 

A bicycle mailbox walkway -- to make yourself.  (From Hometalk)

"What are the perfect things to do -- and say -- when someone is being rude to you?"  Quora comes through again. 

Have a great week. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Brick Would Agree...


Unlike Robin Williams, if I ever use this, I tend to revert to German for it. The Brick, being a strong Anglo-Saxon type... would not. But I am grateful for friends who will listen -- then ask probing questions. It helps.