Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Do, do.

Sometimes I think I've bitten off more than I can chew.

Of course, I'm not really sure I had any choice in the matter.  I suppose I could have stayed on unemployment until I was able to get a job, but anyone who knows me knows why I couldn't do that.  I have never been on any sort of assistance before in my life and it was extremely difficult for me to even file for unemployment.  The last thing I wanted to do was sit around and wait for opportunity to knock.  I'm the type that I'd rather go crashing through doors asking, "Anyone seen opportunity here?  I'm looking for him.  OK, will let me know if he shows up...and sorry about your door!"

And besides, did I really want to go back to sitting behind a desk all day?  No thank you.

So, I'm working hard at school, finally have straight A's (while keeping fingers crossed I can maintain that through the rest of the semester), working hard at work to keep my critters and car fed, and then me if there's anything left, and trying to keep my head above water in all aspects.

I have finally figured out a career path that will enable me to have multiple final career options, but in the meantime giving me a live-able salary while I advance my training and education.  I'm going to apply to the RN program at the school I'm going to now, try to complete it in two or three semesters instead of four, and then work while I apply to both the PA program and the B-RN programs at WSU.  There are basically two paths I can take to the same job (Nurse practitioner/Physicians assistant) so I'm trying to cover all my bases.  Everyone and their dog wants to be a PA, so it is highly competitive (400 applications last year and they only accept 40) and I had no idea how to get clinical experience (necessary to be accepted into the PA program) without any formal training, so going the RN route will give me two options simultaneously--the clinical experience I need as well as the option to pursue the Nurse practitioner route.  That's the plan, man...we'll see how it changes the more I get into these programs and my research. I really don't have much room for error given my law school debt, so I have to absolutely make the most out of every opportunity I can.

I've been a little wore out in pretty much every way, so despite all this emotional, intellectual, and financial stress that I've endured over the past couple of months, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I've lost over 20 pounds since my grandmother's funeral.  It actually sounds more impressive than it actually is, since after I got laid off I gained 12, so my net loss from my plateau weight is only 8+ lbs, but at least it's heading in the right direction.  Pilates are also getting so much easier--I can even do the advanced moves now, and instead of a "workout" it's become a way for me to stretch and relax before I go to bed.  If I can pull off a couple more pounds I will officially be off this stink'n plateau that has plagued me for so long, so wish me luck!  I do feel pretty darned good, and I guess, due to working on my feet, I've lost a full 2" off my thigh, which is probably too much information, but I feel like we're all friends here and I can share, right?  Right.

That's the good news.  The bad news is that I haven't been able to run much because I keep pulling my left calf.  I decided I probably wouldn't make it to the Prairie Fire 5K, so let my good friend Alan, who was going to run it with me, know.  The problem is that my good friend Alan didn't realize that I love to talk about doing things, but never actually end up doing them.  He was under the mistaken impression that I was a "do-er," so he registered for the race!  I have no idea where he got the impression that I actually do things...I mean, when do I DO things? So now I'm in do-do because I have to actually do what I said.  I'm not sure I can handle the pressure!  Ack!  The horror!!!!

(Alan, you know I only mention you because I know you can take it :)

So today I went for a run.  I went three miles, running half of it, which I didn't think was too awful considering it's been a while since I've run much at all.  My calf held up, despite my hamstring on that leg tightening, so I was thrilled that I might be able to start pushing myself a little more.  I've taken the time off work and will actually have to commit to it now.

And then afterward, there will be celebration unlike any celebration ever seen.

Yep, something like that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dear NBC

Dear NBC,

While I admit I don't watch TV regularly, I do enjoy the episodes of The Biggest Loser that I manage to catch every now and then.  I see that your Department of Workout Challenge Creativity has been working overtime, trying to come up with the most outrageous, exciting, and challenging...um...challenges possible for the BL contestants.

Well, I have some good news for you.  I have, in my possession, a piece of property of limitless challenge-potential.  For example, between work and school, in the past two weeks I have been clearing out part of the shelter belt.  I started with this:

I have been sawing, digging, pruning, pulling, yanking, dragging, lifting, pushing, piling...and even climbing:

And I've only gotten this far.

This is only one minor example of the plethora of possibilities that exist on my little farm for BL challenge after challenge!  There is a house in need of repair, buildings to tear down, fencing to build, water and electric lines to lay, etc.  There are even roofs to be done (plenty of lifting, climbing, picking up old shingles, and hauling them away).

I know this might seem like an offer too good to be true, but I would offer this property for your use free of charge!  You could easily spend an entire season here, issuing challenge after challenge.  It might not be "the ranch," but I'm sure there is more than enough work(outs) to be done around this ranch.  Feel free to contact me to set up a tour.

Last chance handout,

Monday, September 19, 2011

Grandma's Legacy

You might remember that my Grandma McCandless passed away at that age of 89 in April.

I always knew that my grandmother was the hardest worker there ever was and the woman could make a dollar stretch further than anyone else I've ever even heard of.  However, now that her estate is being settled, I'm just now finally grasping the magnitude of just how hard she worked her entire life.

She didn't just work hard--she did so much more.  It's difficult to imagine the sacrifices she made, even in her final years.  She had enough assets to be considered a multi-millionaire, but I recently found out that the stove on her back porch wasn't there just because someone hadn't gotten around to hauling it off for her.  It was there because it was her oven.  I'll explain: the stove in the kitchen worked, except for the oven, so rather than go out and spend money on a new stove, she kept an even older stove on the backporch of her old farmhouse so when she wanted to bake, she'd go outside and put whatever it was she was cooking in the oven.  She had more than enough money for a new stove but she didn't buy one.

After finding this out, I felt like the most spoiled brat in the universe.  I think I make a sacrifice because my smartphone is two years old or my computer is five years old.  Thinking of my grandma, I don't know what the meaning of sacrifice is.

Even more amazing is that my grandpa and her started with nothing in their early 40's.  I guess they were so poor when my dad was born that he almost died from malnourishment.  They struggled for a long time before finally starting to make a home for themselves and their family, and completely on their own they turned nothing into a fairly sizable estate.  It gives me a lot of hope.  I sit here, throwing a pity-party for myself because I'm in my mid-thirties and I feel like all that I've done--earning a B.A. Cum Laude, going to law school, working my butt off, has all been for nothing.  But then I think of my grandparents and they struggled and made many more sacrifices than I will ever even know, and yet they still made a good life for themselves.

Some of the things my grandma did exhaust me just thinking about them.  Even after things started improving for them financially, my grandma never changed her penny-pinching ways.  She had a veggie garden every year and canned what they needed for the entire winter off of it.  She slaughtered chickens on her own, ringing their necks two at a time, then butchering them and making food from every part.  When the church didn't have a pianist, she took it upon herself to teach herself to play the piano.  She was an accomplished painter as well (I will get some pictures soon and post them).  She sewed so many quilts that we lost count of how many there must have been--some long ago were used up but I am lucky enough to have two mint-condition ones packed away.  She also knitted afghans and house slippers.  She picked sandplums and made jelly, made homemade pickles that I hear were to-die for, and could fry a piece of meat unrecognizable (you didn't know what you were eating, but it was always good).  She could have retired many years ago with more than enough money to live on for the rest of her days, but she continued building up the farm and working hard long after my grandfather passed on.

It wasn't just what she did that made her so amazing, either.  Many things that she said would make you take a step back and go "huh."  Some things were downright funny, too.  One time my dad, uncle, grandma and I were eating at the local Mexican restaurant and she ordered a tostada.  The waiter asked if she wanted beans or rice with it.  Her response was, "How should I know?!"  That poor waiter--the look on his face.  He didn't know what to do but she had the rest of us in stitches.  Another time we were out with my sister when she had Invisi-lines, which you have to remove to be able to eat.  While my sister was taking out the Invisi-lines and putting them in their case, my grandma asked her, "Are you putting in your eat'n teeth?"

The last time I had dinner with my grandmother, we went to Applebees with my uncle, my cousin, and his family, and I sat next to Grandma.  She ordered the fried shrimp and I asked her if she ate the tails, since that's what Dad does. She said she didn't, and she said she didn't know why Dad did that.  At the end of her meal she turned to me, pointed at the shrimp tails, and asked, "Do you want to take these home to your dad?"  She also mentioned on the drive to the restaurant the story of one of the Chilean miners who had both  his wife and mistress waiting for him to surface. She just thought that was the funniest thing she ever heard.  She told me, "If I were him I'd just stay down there!"  I didn't know that would be the last dinner I'd get to have with my grandma, but I remember pretty much every minute of it--I hang onto it and that truly lovely time we got to spend together that one last time.

I know I can never be the woman my grandmother was, but she has definitely left a lasting legacy with everyone she knew.  I feel very lucky to get to be able to hear all these stories that are surfacing now that she is gone and being able to put together the pieces of a truly remarkable life.  My grandmother worked up until the day she went into the hospital, even though she didn't have to.  Although she's finally at rest, I think in her own way she is still working hard--inspiring those who knew her.  Her story tells me that my own isn't over yet.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


My poor kids.

The dogs suffer so.  They're inside the house all day long, abandoned and having to do without the attention they crave.

My poor, terribly-abused horses have been going without as well.

They took it upon themselves to right the wrongs done to them.  They weren't going to take it any longer. Before I knew it they had gathered the troops and surrounded the enemy.  And pulled on her pony tail, just in case she didn't get the hint.

In all seriousness, I have felt the pangs of pet-owner guilt over the last few weeks.  I haven't had much time to spend with any of my animals.  This stress has been compounded by the fact that I haven't had any hay in my barn for three weeks now.  I've had to rely solely on a mixture of beet pulp, dehydrated hay and a timothy/alfalfa pellet mix that I've devised.  While my horses have lost a bit of their bloom, I am happy that they haven't lost nearly as much weight as I feared they would.  

I'm holding out, waiting to see if my hay guy can get one last cutting.  I am caught in a dilemma of either waiting on what I know would be great, reasonably-priced hay, or not waiting, driving a long ways and paying a premium price for hay of questionable quality.  Stupid drought.....

Evie is thinking long and hard about this conundrum.

The turkeys contemplate.  What, I don't know.

Perhaps Sophie can find the solution.

I'm sure the answer to everything--my pangs of guilt over the animals not getting enough attention, the lack of hay, world peace--will be as clear as the shadow on the wall.

And when it does, it should help my fowl mood a great deal.

"Victory is ours!"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Won the Lottery!!

Not really.  I got your attention, though, right?

I keep thinking that I really need something good to happen right now.  I am under so much stress.  I find myself snapping at people when I don't mean to at all.  I'm tense.  I'm on edge.  I'm exhausted all the time.  My allergies are killing me (thanks, drought).  I think I've got ten more gray hairs in the last two weeks.

I know some of my friends would tell me to slow down and have a margarita, but I'm so broke (both financially and time-wise) that I can't afford such luxury.  Even though there are days that I haven't eaten because my animals eat first and/or there is just no time, I haven't lost any weight--I'm all swollen from my allergies, which makes my back hurt and turns me into H.R. Puffyface, so I look and feel like crap.

However, I think I'm going to make a choice.  I'm going to take all that crap and turn it into crappe!

I just have to figure out how to do that.

Hmmm....okey dokey.  Well, maybe I did get a bit carrie-d away.  Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.  So punny!!

Tomorrow we'll be back to our irregularly-scheduled program (whatever that is),

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'll Tell You Something You Don't Know...Maybe

1.  If someone found my phone and decided to check out what music I've been listening to, they'd find this:

And then this:

To say my taste in music is a bit erratic might be an understatement.

By the way, in my humble opinion Maria Callas was why Madama Butterfly was created.  I can't bring myself to listen to anyone else sing the part.  Oh, and The White Stripes are bad-ass.

2.  I studied a total of 12 hours for my chemistry polyatomic quiz and let me tell you, the results weren't pretty. However, I studied for a grand total of five minutes for my other two tests this week, which I scored 96% and 93% on.  The only thing this proves is that I can't win.

3.  When I was a kid I took SEVEN years of dance (ballet, jazz, and tap) lessons.  That's me right there in the middle, in the pink.

As an adult my lack of coordination is epic.  Sad.

4.  I was lucky enough to watch Nolan Ryan pitch his last no-hitter on May 1, 1991 in Texas.  I still have the ticket stub, although unfortunately most of the ink has faded from it. However, I do have a few crappy pictures as well!

Of course I didn't know back then what I had seen. I am proud to say I have a much stronger appreciation for baseball now.

5.  Speaking of Texas, after having worked at a horse facility for nine months back in 2007, I still can't grow thumbnails.  Hmmm...workman's comp?  Probably not, but I do miss my thumbnails.

Over and Out,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Buttons and Bows

Life on the farm isn't too exciting right now--mostly homework, chores, working, and more homework.  So, for today, I thought you might enjoy this clip from one of my childhood favorites.  A bit cheesy, yes, but still a classic nonetheless.

I dare you to watch this and not crack a smile.....

I was peaches, I was cream, I was captain of the team!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Everyone remembers where they were that day.

I remember I was at home, watching the news while getting ready for class.  Then a special report came on.  At first, of course, no one knew the magnitude of the events that would follow the initial breaking story: that one of the World Trade Center towers was on fire.  As I watched the burning building on TV, the plane hit the second tower and I will never forget the newscaster gasping in horror right along with so many of us watching at home.  Then the news of the Pentagon...then the truly heroic sacrifices of those who crashed in the field in Pennsylvania.

What I also remember is the uncertainty of the rest of the day.  I called KU Law--class was still on.  I drove to Lawrence from our house in Tonganoxie and the road was oddly deserted, until, at least, I got into Lawrence.  As I drove into town I noticed every gas station on the main road had lines that overflowed onto the road and down it for several blocks.  The signs on the gas station said $5 and $6 per gallon.  I looked down at my gas gauge--thankfully well over half a tank.  I didn't think (in other words, I hoped) that I wouldn't have to line up for gas.  Surely we couldn't be facing something that would prevent us from getting fuel, would we?  And even if we did, how would our survival be assured by getting that last tank of gas?

Before going to class I went by the bank where my then-fiance (and now ex-husband) was working.  We sat in the car and talked.  What did all this mean for our country?  For ourselves?  He agreed--there was no reason to line up for gas.  Either we didn't need it, or if we did, that last bit wasn't going to make any significant impact on what would happen to us in that kind of world.

I went to class, but it was difficult to concentrate.  The events were mentioned briefly and then it was on to business.  In between classes I went to the library to check the news--what else was going on?  We didn't know if the attacks would continue.  We never could have imagined anything like this happening in our country, so what else unimaginable would take place?  I hope that this feeling is the closest I ever come to knowing what it must have been like for my grandparents, when my grandpa was stationed in California, waiting for the Japanese to invade.  They were waiting, prepared to fight the Japanese to try to prevent them from advancing any further than the Rocky Mountains.  Readying for that fight (which thankfully never happened) must have been like waiting for the next attacks following 9/11.  Waiting, fearing the worst, wondering how many more would die, and not knowing if or when it would happen.....

I believe, for our generation, that this moment brought us out of the safety that we had known for so long (thanks to the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation) and into the harshness of reality.  None of us want to recognize that terrible things can happen, especially to us.  Today we remember these events and honor those who died innocently and heroically during this tragedy.

The hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men.
Henry David Thoreau

Friday, September 9, 2011

Three Amigos--Encore

This scene is tied for my favorite from this movie.  About halfway through you'll figure out why.

Happy Trails,
Dusty Bottoms

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Five Things

1.  I'm running on three hours of sleep.  I worked late last night, drove home, did chores, then got up at 5am so I could make it to class at 8am, then worked the lunch shift, came home and have been doing homework pretty much all afternoon.  This is how I live my life:

Therefore I cannot be held responsible for the content of this post.  Reader, ye be warned.


Sorry, my pirate tourettes is acting up again.  Shiver me timbers....

2.  My hair is getting rather long and now I can't decide whether to cut it to my usual shoulder-length style or go ahead and let it grow out to donate to Locks of Love again.  

 It's not quite this long...yet.  However, it is getting to the point that I basically have only two hairstyles now--high pony tail or low pony tail.

And we all know what's under a pony's tail....

3.  Hai, my name is Jessie McCandless and I'm writing this post in an effort to put off having to finish my chemistry homework.

Oh, did I mention I just joined Procrastinator's Anonymous?


4.  I am in LOVE with this:

5.  I can't have, I can't have, I can't have, because of this:

 Ah, story of my life.  Except for the moving in with parents.  I'm just a familial squatter.

Ahoy, me hearties,
My pirate name is:
Iron Bess Flint

A pirate's life isn't easy; it takes a tough person. That's okay with you, though, since you a tough person. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I don't know much, but I do know one thing--cooler weather can make all the difference.  Just ask Milton's momma.

She's a cat on a lukewarm wooden roof.

I went to school today, came home, and got so much done!  The turkeys supervised while I cleaned shop.

The bees were busy as...bees.

The chickens enjoyed their afternoon outside as well.

They "helped" me by cleaning up some of the rotten produce that I cleaned out of my garden.

They vacuumed up the veggies like little hoovers.

Or perhaps you could call them "Cluck Busters."

Okay, okay, Charlie--I promise no more puns!

And I will resist mentioning anything about having nice melons....

But I am pleased with how the watermelon and cantelope are coming along in this drought!

I threw one into the girls' pen that was a little too ripe to eat.  Paula inspected it, but they weren't interested in my garden leftovers.

 This marigold was in full bloom--seemingly defiant against the harsh conditions it survived this summer.

As I cleared out the weeds I discovered a nest my hens had made when they were still able to roam around free-range.  Silly chickies.

After cleaning out my garden I did chores.  Fabian is now separated from his mean old sisters.

He was losing some weight because they wouldn't let him eat and I'm not feeding extra like I used to since we are facing a significant hay shortage.  So far Fabian seems to like being by himself ok...especially at feeding time!

Times like this make me miss the days of plenty.  I yearn for the days I could let them eat alfalfa free choice--days that probably won't return again for many, many months, but we'll get by and no one is going hungry, which is the important thing.  

I also managed to get some video of my rooster doing what he does best:

And that's what I call poultry in motion.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day

I think the only way the past few days could have been better is if I had won the lottery. As a matter of fact, I feel almost like I had! The weather was absolutely gorgeous--our 100+ degree heat wave finally broke and it did so in grand style. Despite the fact that I didn't have to be anywhere or do anything I got quite a bit done. I also was able to relax and spend cherished time with family, ate way too much Mexican food (I swear last night I lapsed into a mexicoma), and got some stuff done for the animals.

For my birthday, Dad bought me some panels to extend the pen for the chickens and turkeys so when they're penned up all day they have a bit more room to roam.

This is my Americauna rooster--one of only two roosters remaining (the other is a Silkie). I think he's a pretty handsome devil, although not nearly the personality that my little cochin roos had.

I will feel a lot less guilty about them being locked up all day long during the days when I have to go to school and work.

Today the birds got to spend the entire day outside, though! They enjoyed every minute of it--I could tell....

Although it wasn't hot out, they still enjoyed time by the water spigot.

I am convinced they are fairly confused about what species they belong to. When I bought them they were in a cage right next to ducks, so perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised?

Although no work was done on the house this weekend I wanted to share what a huge change is taking place to the front right now.

In the picture below, you can see how the old trim looked. That trim is at least 120 years old, so it's a little past its expiration date. Plus, it doesn't help when half a tree falls on it (as it did during the ice storm in 2007--you can see where the storm window is broken).

Thank goodness it didn't break all the way through! I'm replacing all the windows, so no hurry to fix that storm window right now. Plus, you can see what an eyesore the old porch is in that picture--once that is replaced I think the house is going to look completely different!

Below is all of the finished work, with the guttering installed.

It's coming along, slowly, but surely. I feel so blessed to finally have a farm of my own and one day this house will be everything I ever wanted. I have no doubt it will be well worth the wait.

Hope status: returned :)