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Before the furlough and before the blizzard my sister, the girlfriends and I went on a grand adventure! We went to the Nebraska Junk Jaunt.

I first heard about the Junk Jaunt when I was camping with the Sisters on the Fly. According to them it was a ‘must see’. So the last weekend in September my sister hitched up her big camper, I hitched up little Rattlin’ Ruby and we loaded up 4 of our girlfriends and headed south.

Our first stop was to look at an old camper – I know, hard to believe but this time it wasn’t for me. It appears I have been a bad infulence on my nephew as he is now on the lookout for one of his very own. Unfourtunately, this was not the one. This camper was in really bad shape and the lady who owned it wanted a little to much for it. I’m sure he will find the perfect one soon but I remember how hard it is to be patient.

After our camper inspection we headed for Broken Bow, NE. My sister’s camper is huge compared to Ruby and I know I could have slept in her camper with the others but part of the reason for this trip was to see if Ruby could actually make it that far. And she preformed flawlessly! I really do love my little home on wheels. I have even added a few items to make my travels a little more comfortable.

Ruby is now equiped with a fireplace…

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OK – it’s electric and it only looks like a wood stove but it warms her up really quick and keeps me toasty warm all night. And besides that – she’s cute as a button and fits perfectly in our upstairs bathroom for the winter!

She also has laundry facilities…

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I also added a thick feather tick to her bed along with lots of nice blankets and I slept like a log. There’s nothing like being well rested to prepare for a day of Junking!

We drove down on Thursday. Parked in Wanda’s sisters yard and hit the ground running Friday morning – with all 6 of us girls in my pickup.

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Someone suggested I might need this book. I don’t know why?

Most of the sales open at 7:00 am and run all day till 7:00 pm.

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I don’t think the girlfriends really believed me when I told them it was 500 miles of rummage sales so it took a while to convince them. At the first stop my sister purchased a sofa with 2 matching chairs and a foot stool. They look like something right off an Austin Powers movie set – from the 60’s, harvest gold and avacodo green and in really good shape.

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I figured at this rate we were going to have to strap stuff on the top of Ruby just to get it all home but we left the furniture there to pick up later and headed out. The next stop was a huge metal shop crammed full of stuff. I bought 5 beautiful old window frames which will someday be refinished and sporting stained glass. I don’t know where I will use them but figuring that out is half the fun of junking.

After that we hit sale after sale and even though the girlfriends were a little shy about buying junk it didn’t stop me and my sister. By the end of the day we had pretty well loaded down the pickup and we still had to go back to the first stop the next morning and pick up Jenny’s sofa and chairs. We had lawn chairs for Wanda’s sister, a patio set for one of the girlfriends, a beautiful old chamber pot for Ruby, glasses, dishes, silk pj’s, new chaps (chinks) for me, a new bit for my horse and had pretty much crammed stuff into every cubby hole and storage spot inside my pickup. Everybody was holding stuff on their laps too.

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We finished shopping for the day at Burwell as it started to sprinkle. Thankfully, I had thrown in a tarp and straps which came in pretty handy.  We stopped at Wanda’s sisters friends house (well, that’s confusing) who had invited us for drinks. We never turn down drinks and in this case it ended up that they cooked us some of the best steaks we had ever eaten and a wonderful salad for supper. What nice people!!! By the time we were ready to head back to our campers it was 9:00, pitch black and raining really hard. We soon discovered that the Nebraska Sand Hill country is really made up of sand. The gravel (really it was sand) roads were pretty squishy and we had a couple wild moments just getting out of the driveway but once we got back on pavement we only had the lack of visability to worry about.

Talk about rain! It was impressive to say the least but we crept back to Broken Bow and made it back to a gas station before running the tank dry. Of course that meant that I was standing outside pumping gas in one of the worst driving rain I have ever seen. $60.00 later I was soaked to the skin and shaking so hard I could hardly shut the air conditioner off in the pickup.  One of the girlfriends was a little confunsed by the snowflake symbol on the dash. Oh my goodness – I haven’t laughed that hard in years! I was glad to get back to Ruby and her fireplace!!!

The rain stopped in the middle of the night but the dogs started barking shortly later. Wanda’s sister Sonja and her husband run cattle and also have some very nice horses which they train and also are also used for barrels, poles and such events at rodeos and horse shows by their daughter Jayde. As soon as you step into their house you can see how good these horses and riders are as the place is filled with trophy buckles. They had taken off for another horse show in Denver that morning and left us in charge. They are very trusting people.

So when the dogs started barking in the middle of the night I kept peeking out the window to see what they were barking at. At first I didn’t see a thing but then once the moon came out I looked out to see the outline of a horse in the barn. It turns out one of their horses – Max is quite an escape artist and is able to undo latched gates. I got up and threw on my jeans and boots but as soon as I opened Ruby’s door the horse took off. I cleaned up the spilled oats he was rummaging through and tried to coax him in by shaking the bucket of oats. This always works with our horses but Max is smarter than that and refused to be caught. Since I wasn’t too keen on stumbling around in the dark and it would be morning soon I finally locked the bucket of oats in the tack room and went back to bed after telling the dogs what good puppies they were and to keep an eye on things till morning.  It didn’t take long to straighten things out the next morning.

After a quick breakfast we were off to pick up my sister’s livingroom furniture then back to unload it in the barn and check on things before heading out for another load of treasures. Thankfully, the day had dawned with clear skies and was absolutely beautiful. We hit the fairgrounds in Broken Bow which was filled with lots of venders. We even ended up with several good purchases because of the rain the night before – one vender had 3 large flatbed trailers loaded with all manner of rain-soaked items that were only a quarter each! I just love those rock bottom prices. My best purchase of the day was a box of dishes – a complete 8 place setting of Shakespear Country dishes for $20.00. I had been picking up pieces of these dishes for the last year or so about fell over myself when I spotted a whole box of them so cheap!

We saw lots of unusual things like this chair.  We didn’t buy it but you got to admit it’s got style!

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Of course we came home with another full load and spent the evening sorting and packing away our treasures for the trip home. We also celebrated with a concoction that will forever more be known as ‘Junk Juice’ although I doubt if any of us can remember the recipe.

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Sunday morning found the horses out once again – freed by their ringleader Max but they were quickly gathered and order was restored before we headed down the road to a few more rummage sales and finally home – 1,131.4 miles later and Ruby pulled like a dream.

We saw a lot of beautiful country, met some wonderful people and got a whole bunch of stuff for very little money. I would highly recommend the Junk Jaunt – especailly for a girlfriend get-away but I have a few suggestions if you’re planning on attending the next one.

1. Order the Shoppers Guide from the website before you go. This is filled with maps and lots of information on the different sales and vendors. You can plan your trip and also see which of the sales have items you are interested in.

2. Go through the shoppers guide and mark the estate sales and first time rummage sales. These turned out to be the best spots we found.

3. Drive down on Wednesday and start shopping on Thursday. Not all the sales will be open yet but the shoppers guild will tell you which ones are.

4. Never acept a marked price as the final price. I am not good at dickering but there is definately some people who are. Learn from the masters and practise at home before going.

5. Take a bunch of friends with you as it is always more fun to shop with friends.

6. Take the time to stop and visit with the local people – Nebraska has some of the nicest people you will ever meet!

And

7. If you drive past a rummage sale and everybody in the pickup sucks in their breath at the same time and goes “Ohhhhhhh!” in unison you better turn around and go back – that was one of the best stops we made.

We came home with Ruby loaded down and the back of my pickup completely full. My sister’s camper also had piles of stuff tucked into closets, cupboards and corners too. But best of all we collected some pretty great memories of the trip.

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There’s my little Ruby parked at Carhenge – the roadside attraction built by a Nebraska farmer just north of Alliance, Nebraska. There’s a photo for her scrapbook!

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Morgan came home last weekend.

It was great to see him – even though it was a really quick visit.

I love my baby and I would do anything for him but when he left he took something.

Something that Hubby and I have grown quite fond of.

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He took Steve the Wonder Dog!!!

We packed some dog food and his stuffed chicken squeeky toy and he was gone.

Morgan said he’s really missed him.

And from the looks of things it appears Steve has missed him too.

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Awwwwww!

See you both in a couple of days!

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Mom…

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I have written. 

When I started this blog I swore I would never write those words but my mother passed away January 7th and I suppose in my warped and twisted mind I felt that seeing it in print would make it more ‘true’.   That could explain why I purchased all the local news papers but still haven’t opened one up to read the obituary. 

My Mom, Ellen was a beautiful lady.  She had a wonderful singing voice (1st soprano in the All State Choir) and was usually singing or humming. 

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She was an artist that loved oil painting, was very active in the church and raised 3 wild and crazy kids.  She was a great mom with a sense of humor who lead us on adventures and made holidays and birthdays special.  She gardened and loved to travel and was always ready to jump in the plane and go.

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She was only 72 years old but she has suffered from strokes for many years.  Her first stroke was while I was still in school.  She bounced back from that one but the next one she had, in the spring of 1985 left her unable to deal with numbers.  Then the strokes, the dementia and finally Alzheimer’s slowly took her from us, a little at a time. 

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Even though we’ve been saying goodbye for 25 years I don’t think any of us were ready when it happened.  But it did and we miss her.

*******

I sing because I’m happy.

I sing because I’m free.

For his eye is on the sparrow,

And I know he watches me.

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We attempt to lead a normal life…  Honest, we do!

Yet ‘Weird’ seems to follow us around like a dog on a leash.

Take last Saturday for example:

The day started early.  We were up and on the road by 6:30 am, long before the sun had made its first appearance over the horizon.  This was a quick and unplanned trip to meet up with our son and daughter-in-law at Pierre, SD.  The last time they visited us at the ranch they had borrowed our large flat-bed trailer to haul an old pickup across the state to Watertown where they now live.   Dalton has been working on restoring the seventy-something Ford for several years now but he wasn’t sure she would make it the whole way on her own power.  So they were thrilled to use the trailer even though it is a heavy old beast – weighting over 2 tons all by itself. 

Dalton and Dani both grew up in households where if you borrow something from your neighbor (or family) you always bring it back better than when  you took it.  We also live by the principle that if someone brings you a covered-dish or plate of cookies, you never return the dish empty – you always fill it before you return it so it makes perfect sense that if you borrow a big, old flat-bed trailer you must fill it before you return it.

Right?

Well, they did.

They knew we have been looking for hay so when Dalton called Thursday night and said they would be headed our way with the trailer filled with hay we were excited.  Since it was going to be a very quick trip we offered to meet them half-way at the SD State Capital city of Pierre. 

Like I said – Saturday started early.  We loaded Steve in the pickup and pulled out of the yard at 6:30 am – sharp.  We stopped at the end of the driveway to mail a letter, drove thru Hell Canyon to Custer where we stopped at the bank then on to Rapid City where we stopped for breakfast at McDonald’s.  A half hour later we pulled on to the interstate and sped (Yes – I was driving and yes I have a heavy foot) to Wall, SD – the home of the world-famous Wall Drug. 

I have to stop and ask… 

“Have you dug Wall Drug?” 

If you’ve been there – you will understand.

We stopped in Wall long enough to fill up the tank and pee the dog then we were back on the road to Pierre.  That’s where we met Dalton and Dani with this:

Sweet!  They can borrow the trailer anytime they want!

Nothing ‘weird’ so far – right?

Well, actually the ‘weird’ started about 5 minutes before they pulled in to the parking lot where we were supposed to meet. 

Hubby and I arrived first at the local Perkins and since Hubby has a bladder the size of a peanut he went in to use the restroom while Steve and  I waited for the kids.  As he returned to the pickup he was the first to notice something weird…

“There’s a chicken in the parking lot.”  He stated as he climbed into the pickup.

“What do you mean there’s a chicken in the parking lot?”  I asked.   “We’re in the middle of town.”

He pointed under the truck.

“There’s a chicken in the parking lot.”

I got out to look.

He was right.  There was a chicken in the parking lot…  

A white rooster who was missing some feathers…

A white rooster,who was missing some feathers and looked strangely familiar!!!

A scowl furrowed my delicate brow.

 

Flash back to an earlier post:

”  Levi (the dog) and Franklin (the rooster who lives on the porch) supervised the whole operation so you know it was done right.  Franklin is very picky when it comes to the details.  They were very impressed by my carpentry skills.  Can you tell? “

 

Present day:

It was Franklin – just a little worse for wear.

Franklin lived on our porch for a while last spring.  By summer, we had moved him along with the other chickens to the other chicken house but he had never really gotten along with the other roosters so he had moved (escaped) out of the coop and took up residence on the road grader.  Which turned out to be his saving grace. 

It has been a bad summer for chickens at the ranch.  When Hubby started to notice that the fowl numbers were dwindling, he set out catch-em-alive traps and soon racked up the impressive tally of 11 skunks, 3 raccoons and 1 mean old badger.  Unfortunately, by the time he had thinned out the predators a bit we were down to 1 hen, 3 roosters and Thomas the turkey who is so old and tough that not even the skunks would touch him. 

A couple of weeks ago we moved what was left of our little flock back to the chicken coop by our house to keep a closer eye on them.  And once again Franklin, our ‘Lone Free-Range Rooster’ had decided he didn’t like the chicken pen full of roosters so he escaped out into  our yard and had been roosting at night amongst the vehicles. 

It appears that Friday night he chose the Chevy pickup for his roost not knowing it would be pulling out before daylight.

Hence Franklin’s trip to Pierre.

We’re not sure if he was roosting under the pickup in one of the wheel wells or under the hood next to the engine.  Hubby thinks he might have been sleeping in the bed of the pickup – which would explain the big smile I got from a passing truck driver.   What a let down – I thought he was flurting with me.

Where ever Franklin was, by the time we saw him he had ridden for 5 hours and a grand total of 250 miles before abandoning ship.

It only took a moment to catch him.  He had gotten quite tame when he lived on the porch and frankly, I think he was afraid to leave the safety of the pickup.  We rigged up a set of chicken hobbles from a piece of baling twine we found in the pickup then set him in the back – covered up with a nice warm blanket while we ate lunch.  The waitress even went out to check on him while we ate.  She thought it was hilarious!

Franklin was cold and shivering (and probably in a state of shock) after flying down the highway for the last 5 hours.  It’s amazing that he stayed put and didn’t hit the pavement at 80 mph.  If he had I’m sure there wouldn’t have been anything left but a few feathers blowing in the wind and we would have forever wondered what had happened to that crazy old bird.

Of course I had to post pictures on Facebook and we laughed all they way home about the funny comments everyone made. 

Besides the photo shown above there was this photo.

“Can I ride home inside the pickup?”

And then I posted this one of Franklin and Steve in the back seat.

My sister says:

“Puppy smells chicken.”

Franklin says:

“Beef.  It’s whats for dinner.”

Can life get any weirder?

Franklin never made a peep all the way home.  He travels very well considering this was probably the first trip he’d ever been on.  I suppose life on the ranch can get a little boring at times – especially if you’re a chicken – so maybe this was a nice change to his normal routine.  We did find out that he loves Sun Chips and he really did appreciate a little drink of water.  Maybe it’s not to bad to be hobbled as long as someone is waiting on you. 

I suppose there is the possibility that Franklin has now discovered that he enjoys traveling and he will be watching for another opportunity to stow away on the next trip.  It’s a thought.  It’s pretty easy to spoil a chicken.  Maybe I’ll have to get one of those mirrors with the long handles that the secret service agents use to check for bombs under vehicles – just so I can check for Franklin before I pull out of the yard.  I would sure hate to get caught transporting chickens across state lines even if it wasn’t my idea.  I bet you have to have a permit for that kind of thing and there’s probably all kinds of fines and jail time if you get caught without it. 

I’ll have to check into that.

On another note, I have personally declared November 3rd as National Take Your Rooster for a Ride Day.  There seems to be days for everything else so why not this?  I considered bringing it before Congress for an official declaration but we all know Congress can’t agreed on anything so I’m sure it would only add to the stack of worthy bills they need to be working on.  

But as Forest Gump would say, 

“That’s all I have to say about that.”

With that I will leave you with one parting thought by Steve the Wonder Dog.

 

“I like Chickens.  They taste like…      chicken.”

 

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I am pretty sure this post will show up as having been posted a day late but actually it is still Mother’s Day where I am so HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!  I didn’t get to see any of my kids today but they did call and wish me a happy day anyway so life is good.

I have been running so fast and furious for so long that I don’t even know where to start so let’s see what’s on the camera. 

We are still buying yearlings so we have a new batch to brand at least once a week.

Two weeks ago I went to the Wyoming Master Gardener Conference in Gillette, WY where I learned how to build a snazzy hoop house and how to make Strawberry-Basil ice cream.  I also learned a bunch of stuff about native plants and even more about poisonous plants and fairy gardens.  It was great!

I even hitched up Nadine, my camper and pulled her over to Gillette to sleep in.  Of course since this conference was in Wyoming – in April – it rained and snowed every blessed day and the wind blew like crazy.  

It was 80 degrees and beautiful the week before – go figure. 

Anyway it wasn’t a total bust – I did discover a few things about Nadine – she has a leak above her front window so one corner of the bed was a little soggy.  I’m pretty sure she has no insulation in her walls.  The jack on the front of her hitch is broke (thank goodness for Handy Man jacks) and the furnace still doesn’t work but thankfully, I had packed a small electric heater that warmed her up in about 15 minutes so it wasn’t too bad even though it was 30 degrees outside.  

Nadine also doesn’t have a very secure lock on her door so being the ‘ready for anything, Boy Scout Mama’ that I am, I fashioned a dead bolt for her door once I got to the campground. 

You can’t be too carefull!

One Handy Man Jack plus one load binder and you too can have your very own Redneck Dead Bolt.  Perhaps I should patent it.   There was no way anyone was going to break in and surprise me in the middle of the night!  At least not without having to tear the door knob completely out of the door.  My Dad said I could have also used the removable handle to beat an attacker senseless if needed.  Yes, my beloved Handy Man Jack – the all around survival and self-defense device of every ranch wife.

My husband thinks I’m nuts…

Last weekend I went to a Quilting Retreat at Outlaw Bible Ranch just outside of Custer, SD.  Nadine stayed home and I stayed at my parents house which was much warmer and drier.   My baby, Morgan had requested a Crown Royal quilt made from the purple flannel bags the whiskey comes in so this is what I made while I was there…  at a Bible camp…  with 40 good God-fearing Church women…  I made a quilt out of whiskey bags. 

 I am so going to Hell!

That’s me at show and tell.  I really didn’t envision this quilt ending up like this – a little wild and crazy.  It just kind of took on a life of its own.  I have titled my latest artistic endeavor ‘Morgan’s Drunken Trip Around the World’.   He loves it.  Everyone wanted to know who had to drink all that Crown Royal for the quilt (I cut up 87 bags) I just told them I love my children so much that I will do anything for them even drink 87 bottles of whiskey!  Ha!  Don’t think so – actually Morgan’s buddy Brandon has a step mom who owns a bar.  Sweet…

Last but not least, today I finally built the railing for the front steps. 

We have absolutely no idea what those cool metal wheels are off of but Morgan found them in the iron pile and he brought them to me.  I really love that kid!

Levi (the dog) and Franklin (the rooster who lives on the porch) supervised the whole operation so you know it was done right.  Franklin is very picky when it comes to the details.  They were very impressed by my carpentry skills.  Can you tell?

Other than that it’s been work and lots of gardening.

But I did take time to come up with a ‘top ten’ list for Mother’s Day and all you Ranch Moms out there so here goes,

You might be a Ranch Mom if:

1.  Mother’s Day is spent in the corral – dehorning, branding, de-lousing, doctoring, vaccinating and castrating.

2.  You go to the bathroom and while you’re there you carry on a one-sided conversation with the bum calf, chicks, lamb or baby pigs that are temporarily living in the bathtub till the weather warms up.

3.  You receive gifts such as chain saws, post-hole diggers, back hoes, dump trucks, a milk cow or a load of well-rotted manure and you are thrilled!!!

4.  The bum calf, chickens and every other critter on the place eats supper before you do.

5.  You work full-time at the ranch but also have an 8-to-5 job in town just so you can rest and heal up from the ranch work.

6.  You can back down and turn a charging cow with nothing but a kitchen broom in your hands and the crazed look in your eyes.

7.  You can imitate a cow lowing well enough to calm a scared calf.

8.  At least once you’ve lost both your boots and both socks to 1 foot of sucking gumbo mud before slipping and face planting yourself just to save your baby who is stranded in the center of the corral because he thought it would be fun to play in the mud.

9.  You’ve ever zipped your 2-year-old child inside the front of your Carhart coveralls so they could stay warm while you do chores.

And finally,

10.  You’ve raised more 4 legged babies than 2 legged ones in your life time.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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I hope everyone had a Blessed Christmas and an exciting (but safe) New Year. 

Like everyone else, it has been a busy time for us – even though the family was pretty much scattered to the wind.  Since our kids had plans of their own on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we have put off our celebration until this Sunday.  The actual holidays were a little sad for me without the kids but it actually isn’t all bad – I had 2 extra weeks to finish my shopping without fighting huge crowds and best of all almost everything was on sale!!!

So I am trying to clean the house, bake and figure out what I will be cooking Sunday morning and most importantly looking forward to the kids being here.

Another thing that has been keeping me totally comsumed is a trip I get to take in March.

Look out PUERTO RICO – here I come!!!

I am soooooo excited I can hardly stand myself.  This will be my first trip to a real tropical paradise and this is something I have always wanted to do.   My Hubby had a chance to go along too as some of our friend are going the week before as couples but he just doesn’t get the whole ‘tropical paradise’ thing like I do so I will be going with the girlfriends instead and you know we will have FUN!  The important items are already packed in my suitcase – my camera, my snorkel and my swim suits.

I will trade in my Carhart coveralls for a bikini,

my snow boots for flip flops

and my favorite Mt. Dew for Rum & Coke.

 I will leave this behind:

 And trading it in for something like this:

I can feel the sand between my toes already.  74 days and counting…

But until then I will try to contain my excitement.

2012 is looking pretty good so far.

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Random Ramblings

It has been crazy here!

Mostly because the calves sold really well and that means that for a change – we had money left over after we paid the bills!!!  That is just about unheard of for this operation.  Ha!  So there I was with money to burn…  What terribly extravagant thing do you think I ran out and bought?

Flooring!!!

I know – I’m a wild woman.

We have lived in this house for over 5 years and have never finished the flooring in the dining room, living room and our bedroom.  We did have the subflooring down so it wasn’t like we were jumping from one floor joist to the next but frankly it wasn’t very pretty and worst of all it was full of splinters.  It is time for a change!  So since we sold calves I have spent every evening and every weekend on my hands and knees praying to the great laminate flooring god in the sky and thank goodness it is coming together.  I will post a couple of photos once it is finished and the furniture is all back in place.  But for right now it looks like a tornado spun through our house. 

And I suppose I should be finishing it up and cleaning up the mess.  Right?  Well I would be if I didn’t have a fun-filled weekend ahead of me.  I will be at the Passionate Quilters Retreat quilting my ever-loving-heart out.

A couple of times every year the local quilters get together for a long weekend of sewing and visiting at one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth – Outlaw Ranch – a Bible camp near Custer, SD.  I went there as a kid, I took my boys there for Karate Camp and now I’m back as an old lady.  The best thing about the retreat is that we get to sew for 4 days on whatever we want to work on (I have about a dozen unfinished projects loaded into the back seat of my pickup).  And we don’t have stop sewing because somebody can’t find something or is hungry.  A wonderful lady cooks the most fantastic meals for us – I think I love her.  So what am I waiting for?  I am off – hitting the road and leaving my unfinished floor and all the dust it has generated behind. 

Wa  Hoooooooooo!!!!!

 

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