Chicken Little!


I’ve been working on The Chicken for a couple of months.  Last weekend I got a hair up my ass and actually made some progress with it.

Last night I FINALLY finished it!

It’s not bad considering it’s my first foray into arigurumi and that it’s based off of several different patterns and some free-form of my own.

I even added a nest and two eggs to go with it!

Can’t wait to give it to my friend who is giving it to her granddaughter as a birthday present!

Baby River’s third blanket is now complete.  I added a couple of lovey squares for him to carry around.

Next on the list is two earwarmer headbands, four teddy bears and three lapghans . . . all by Christmas!

Oh, and I still need to START the blanket yarn crochet along that I believe started in September.

Maybe after all that is done, I’ll sit down and learn to quilt . . . maybe.

Peace, Love & Hooking!

Hoosier Barn Chick

Dirty Small Town Secret

As a child, I lived near or in Sheridan quite a bit of my life.  I clearly remember the old Stafford house and the stories whispered about it.

I was thinking about it recently and thought it would be interesting to research it since the internet makes everything so easy now.

*****Disclaimer*****  The word “retarded” will appear a lot in this story.  At the time the whole thing went down, it was an acceptable term.  Please do not take offense to it.  We’ve come a long way since 1980, but it is what it is in these articles.  I cannot and will not change history and I think the use of this term sheds light on where we were with basic human rights at the time.

The story seemed to break in March 1980.  At least that’s where I first found any mention of it.  It was in the Indianapolis paper which was called the Indianapolis Star Metro at that time.  For a small town like Sheridan to make the Indy newspaper, it had to be big news.

At that time, the report was that a couple in their 70’s had been arrested for the death of a mentally disabled (retarded, in their words) adult man that they were being paid to care for.  Willard & Olive Stafford lived on a 90 acre farm on the outskirts of Sheridan in an old farmhouse.  There will be more about the house later in the story.

The victim, 74 year-old Virgil Stuart, had passed away in the nearby town of Noblesville’s Riverview Hospital where he had been admitted for pneumonia and malnutrition.  At the time of his death, he weighed 67 pounds.  I can’t seem to find who took him to the hospital to start with.

Stuart and two other “retarded” adults were being cared for (the newspaper’s term) by the Stafford family.  Wanda Watkins was a 65 year-old woman.  Charles Stuart was Virgil’s brother and also stayed there for some time.

All three were somehow awarded to the Stafford’s from the care of a Fort Wayne State Hospital and Training Center (a mental health hospital) in 1954.  I couldn’t find any record of the Stafford’s being related to them in any way and the details are vague as to how they received custody of them.  They did, however, receive Social Security Supplement Income for “caring” for them.

Charles had lived on the property until 1974 when he lost his leg to frostbite while living/working at the farm.  When the Stafford’s were arrested, Charles was living at the Hamilton Heights Health Care Center in nearby Arcadia, Indiana.  This was a home for developmentally disabled people.  At the time of the arrest, Charles seemed to know that something was wrong during his stay at thee Stafford farm but lived in fear of them.

Wanda was hospitalized for pneumonia when the Stafford’s were arrested.  But, during her hospital stay, she repeatedly asked to go “home” which was the animal and human feces filled trailer that had no heat, air conditioning, electricity or even running water.  She did not understand that those were not considered livable conditions.  It was the only real home she knew, even though the Stafford’s locked the three disabled adults into the trailer each night and whenever they travelled.

The day prior to the arrest of the Staffords, the state prepared to take custody of their 9 year-old granddaughter, Janna, and her 33 year-old uncle, Billy,  who had Downs Syndrome.  Both had been neglected.  However, Janna’s parents, Betty and James Stafford (who lived in Louisiana) returned to Indiana, took their daughter and her uncle and disappeared before the state could take custody of them.  At some point, police located the family and arrested Janna’s parents for neglect due to leaving her with her grandparents.  She was put into foster care in Indiana in May.  Janna was later allowed to go back to Louisiana with her parents.  At some point, Janna and Billy were moved into an apartment in New Orleans.  The newspaper doesn’t make it clear if that meant they were living with Betty and James or living on their own.  I would  hope that they were living with Janna’s parents.

Charges were dropped against Janna’s parents when a grand jury decided that her they had no idea she would be neglected when they left her with them seven years prior.  I find this odd since the parents had lived with the child on the farm for about a year prior to leaving her there.

In 1982, Willard and Olive were released from prison on one year’s probation.  Willard had served his time at Putnamville State Farm and Olive had served hers at Indiana Women’s Prison.  They had each served only four months of their prison sentences.   They were originally sentenced to two years (each) for reckless homicide.  When they were released a statement was given that it didn’t seem it would help anything to keep them in jail.

In the 90’s,  when the home and its contents were auctioned, I took the opportunity to go look through the house.

It was bizarre.  The house was obviously deteriorating.  But, you could tell that, at least at one time, it was grand and elegant.  There were floor length Victorian looking drapes.  There was a baby grand piano.  There were a couple of old cook stoves.  The rooms had what appeared to be some sort of velvet like wallpaper.  A beautiful hand carved staircase went up to another floor.  Unfortunately, the public was not allowed anywhere but the first floor.  Many of the once elegant pieces of furniture were in tatters but still there.  I remember peeking through an interior window into a bathroom (oddly enough there was no door to that bathroom) and seeing that it was filled from the floor to the ceiling with bird taxidermy.  Outside were stacks of personal items for sale.  There was quite a selection of Playboy magazines from the 70’s.  I took pictures of the house, but I’ve long since lost them.  I don’t remember seeing the trailer at that time.  I don’t think I knew about the trailer back then.  I only knew that “retarded” people had been kept in some out buildings and had died.

Willard died in December of 1989 and Olive died in March of 1998.  The back of their shared headstone lists their children, grandchildren and a niece.  Oddly enough the quote “Thanks Jesus for a beautiful life together for sixty-three years” appears on their headstone.

I have yet to be able to find what they did between their release from prison and their deaths.  Growing up, I assumed that nobody lived in the Stafford house.  But, they could have been living there and just let it run down.

I hope to find out more about the lives they lived after prison and to be able to follow up on the other members of this horrible tragedy in the future.



Being Thankful & Forgiving

It’s the time of year where everyone makes a point to show how thankful they are.  That’s great.  And, lots of my friends express their gratitude for being blessed with the little things in life during the year.  I love that.  You see, over the years I have made my circle smaller and smaller.  Whenever possible, I make sure I am surrounded by people who make MY life better by just being themselves.  I try to weed out the constantly negative people and the users.  Sometimes it’s hard to do.  Unless you are willing to explain to someone why you cut them out of your life, you are frequently stuck with them.

My baby sister-in-law is someone who comes and goes from my circle.  That makes me sad.  But, she often lives a lifestyle that is harmful to her and hurtful to others.  When things get bad, I either speak up (and she cuts me out for a while) or I cut her out.  Don’t get me wrong, I worry about her and miss her the whole time she’s gone.  When we are in public together, people often assume that we are sisters because of our interactions.  We noticed several years ago that we are closer to each other than our actual sisters.

A few years ago we lost her older sister suddenly.  I won’t go into details, but health issues turned into a coma and we had to make the choice to remove her from life support.  It sent the family into a tailspin.

My sister-in-law (who we already suspected of drug abuse) seemed to get worse.  Then, she left her husband (who was just as bad as she was), disappeared, came back and repeated the process a couple of times.

She finally went to rehab and came out looking healthy and seemed like her old self.  And then things started going downhill.  I knew when she came back from rehab that she was smoking pot.  I figured there were far worse things she could be doing so I ignored it other than to ask her to not expose me or my son to it.  Being bipolar, pot is very appealing to me.  It’s also not a good thing for me.

She was staying with my in-laws and applying for jobs.  But, she was failing drug tests for jobs.  I finally spoke up to The Hubby and told him why she was failing the tests.  And, she was furious with me.  She told her parents I was a liar and she disappeared again.

She’s back now, off and on, at my in-laws.  The cold weather has made living out of her car (yes, that’s where she is at this point in her life) and she sometimes stays with my in-laws.  She makes sure to avoid me.  I have to give her credit.  Avoiding me takes a lot of energy since I live next door.

With Thanksgiving looming, I am missing her something fierce.  I want her back in my life.  But, I NEED for her to be trying to live the best life she can for herself.  It kills me to watch her be self-destructive.

So, today’s plan (along with a million other things) is to catch her at the in-laws’ house and have a heart to heart with her.  Although I did the right thing, I need to have her forgive me for ratting her out.  I don’t need forgiven.  i did the right thing.  But, I need her heart to forgive me so that she can accept what I did and once again become an important part of each others’ lives.

We’ll see how it goes.

Peace, Love & Family

Hoosier Barn Chick

Living Simply


Living at The Barn is often its own part-time job.  Living “simply” often means being busy at the lifestyle.  There’s grass to mow, leaves to blow, wood to cut and stack, trees that need removed after falling, “roads” to maintain, wood to bring in, feeding the woodstove, mice to catch, massive amount of housework to be done (made worse by the size of The Barn and the fact that we heat with an indoor wood stove) and all of  the stuff that comes with living in a house where outdoor activities are a way of life.

Today is no exception.  While the guys are out deer hunting (I managed to come down with a wicked cold yesterday) I need to do some organizing, cleaning, run some errands, finish up a few crochet projects and hopefully work on some videos.  Oh, and I need a manicure.  Just because a girl can hang with the guys doesn’t mean she can’t do it with pretty lavender or pink nails!

What I realized last night as I made a mental list of all I wanted to get done this weekend is that sometimes the simple things bring you back to your center.  Crocheting makes me calmer.  Puttering in the kitchen make me happy.  And playing with Daisy Doodle is a surefire way to forget about the stress of my day.

Last night, as Daisy was being her normal crazy self, The Hubby wanted to play with her.  He grabbed one of her many beloved toys and she began to play.  But, when I got up to go do something, the toy became much less enticing and she would follow me around.  I say follow me around.  But really I mean be right by my side making sure at least part of her body was touching me at all times.  She frequently steps on my feet.  I felt really bad about it.  The Hubby isn’t a big pet fanatic.  And the fact that he wanted to play with her was a big deal.

So, he wanted to move to training with her.  First of all, when she is in full-force Daisy Doodle mode, training is nearly impossible.  She is a big bundle of energy.  He was not having a whole lot of success with her.

He handed me a treat and I let her be crazy for a few more minutes.  Then, I started with the “sit” command.  It didn’t take but a few tries before I just had to hold the treat up and look at her and you could see her working through the process in her brain and her big wagging rump would hit the ground.

Daisy Doodle and I are good for each other.  I try to make an effort to gauge her energy before deciding what would be best for her to do.  And, she reminds me that sometimes you just need to play and not worry about what comes next.

I have said for years that a house is not a home without a pet.  But, Daisy Doodle is way more than a pet.  She is my reminder to love unconditionally, don’t judge people by the day you’ve had and to just go after life like a ball being thrown across the yard.

Love, Peace & Finding Your Center

Hoosier Barn Chick


It’s Not Just For Boob Jobs Anymore




Recently I went ahead and splurged on a clear silicone make up brush set and applicator sponge.  The idea behind it (at least for me) is that they would be easy to clean every day and I wouldn’t have to worry about picking up a makeup brush the next day only to find it wet . . . and possibly smelling funny.  For less than a $15 investment, it seemed worth trying out.  For a few years I’ve been using Q-tips for my eye make up because of the chance of dirty brushes giving me eye infections.

I was super excited to try them out.  But, I have to admit that I found them a bit tricky at first.  They don’t absorb the make up so it feels like you don’t get enough on them.  It’s also a bit weird because they aren’t flexible like traditional brushes.  After 3 or 4 days I had adjusted to that feeling and began to appreciate them.

They are:

  • ergonomic
  • accurate
  • easy to clean
  • quick drying

Definitely a thumbs up after the initial adjustment period.  I don’t think I would go back to old fashioned ones ever again.  I’d even buy this set again.

Peace, Love & New Things

Hoosier Barn Chick