Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Indiana Botanical Gardens

The Herbalist was as important as the bible in my Gramma's house back in the 1950s.  In those days most rural folks self-treated their ailments with herbs, teas, and ointments.  Doctors and clinics, like we know today, just didn't exist.  So, their only choice was to "send for" their own remedies and then tolerate whatever ailed them until the mail carrier brought them relief. 

Gramma spent alot of her lonely hours leafing through the Indiana Botanical Gardens catalogs.  I watched her.  That was the only doctor she had, and now I realize she was searching  for ways to ease her silent sufferings.  Poor soul.

According to their website, http://www.botanicchoice.com/, the Indiana Botanical Gardens, Inc., is now the largest seller of herbs by mail order in the world. Both my Gramma and Mom ordered their products, and I know for sure as a kid they applied these herbal remedies to my childhood bodily afflictions, as well.

Today, this company's 21st century online catalog offers a huge range of therapies, including cosmetics, and I see their spa line features exotic ingredients such as hoodia (the African desert plant).   I can't help but wonder what Gramma would order today if she'd see all the stuff they are selling.  Maybe the two of us could sit together, smear some hoodia on our faces, and giggle at how silly we look.  Gosh, I miss her.

Monday, November 29, 2010

New List, New Life

I've just made a major U-turn in my life.  Let the big ball fall, cuz this chick has revamped her list of new year resolutions, and I unveil them here for the first time.  (drum roll, please)
  • Gain at least 30 pounds.  This will require considerably more snacking.
  • Procrastinate more.  I'll aim for tomorrow.  If tomorrow doesn't come, then why spoil today doing whatever it is I don't want to do in the first place.
  • Exercising is a waste of fine time that I could spend in the car going somewhere else.
  • Drink more alcohol to keep my tummy tract sterilized and my nerves numb.
  • Use the internet more.  How else will I keep my knowledge base current.
  • Bathe less often, save water, buy more deodorant, help the economy.
  • Spend more time on the couch.  They say stretching is good for us.
  • All clothes without elastic will be donated to Good Will.  It's a charitable thing. 
So, there it is.  The handcuffs are off, the key thrown away.  I'm free to be me......a chubby, lazy, tipsy, geeky, smelly, sloppy, generous old broad......happier than hell won't have it!  I'm finished paddling upstream.  Let the sails of fate carry me off to the seas of salvation where I shall swim in the waters of women's liberation.  Just think of all the years I wasted trying to be what I thought I should be for all those who really didn't care what I looked like anyway.  Ain't we a crazy bunch of egotistical eggheads? 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Times

Was it ever delicious!!!!!!!

Yesterday we trollied to a family get-together, arriving early enough for the bloody marys with stalks of celery and spears of dill pickles.  For me and my sister-in-law on my husband's side, bloody marys are like that first kick of the football.  After two of those lovely drinks, the party only got better.

The brothers deep-fried the turkey outside by the garage.  Good common sense guided them through the frying of the bird, and I have pictures to prove it. Forty-five minutes is all it took for the 15-lb sacrificial bird to reach the desired 180-degree internal temperature.  Because this was a first-time experience for the family, we girls were like the paparazzi moving in from every angle to get a good shot of the victim. 

The crispy critter was extracted from the sizzling oil, placed on a cake pan, and carried to the house for carving.  My brother-in-law carved, while the rest of us reached for samples.  Moist.  Tender.  Out of this universe good.

Just goes to show that no matter how old or how young we are, first times are healthy and invigorating.  All of us remember our "first times."  The funny thing is, they don't have to be big deals.  First times can be trying a new recipe, taking a gravel road instead of the usual highway, buying a new shade of lipstick or nail polish, finding a different tree for the deer stand, visiting a new restaurant, planting a new variety of flower....or frying, instead of baking, the Thanksgiving turkey!

In fact, just last week I experienced a first-time in the grocery store.  I was in the cookie aisle when I noticed a small green box of Key Lime Cookies.  The box said the flavor was inspired by the Caribbean, would bring my palate to life, and if for any reason in the world I didn't just love them, the World Table would refund my money. The cookies are about the size of a quarter, dusted with powder sugar, and anyone who likes the flavor of the key lime will swoon over their savory blend of sour and sweet.  The only problem is that I'll be spending more time in the cookie aisle.....looking for the green box of goodies!

Having fun with life is really so simple, isn't it? 

Today's Trivia:  An old custom in many families is to make a wish on the wishbone.  The turkey breastbone is cleaned and two people get a chance to make a wish by snapping the dried bone with each one pulling on an end.  The person with the larger end of the bone gets the wish--and that's how we got the phrase, a "lucky break."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday or a Green Friday?

Black Friday seems to be the new unofficial American holiday.  I cannot imagine what other nations think about us when we claim to be so thankful one day, and the next day we stand in long lines waiting to barge into stores...only to add more to the pile.

Oh, I know, there are huge arguments that this is the one day of the year when the merchants can make their yearly profits.  But, at whose expense?  The media encourages us to get out there and shop and spend money to keep the economy going.  Whoa!  Let's back up here.  Why should the responsibility of saving the economy be placed on we who have the least money to spend in the first place?  The corporates sold our American economy.  We didn't.  Why are we asked to open our billfolds to help them build more massive mansions, buy longer yachts, and open more foreign bank accounts? 

We Americans are too easily duped into thinking we're saving money on these sales.  There's such high mark-ups in the first place, I doubt they're giving the shopper any great shakes.  It's my opinion that the merchants lure us into their stores with these delicious sales, and once they have us in their fish bowl.....well, we're going to eat carts full of their bait. And, we do. 

What if we turned Black Friday into Green Friday?    Instead of giving our children "big expensive gadgets," maybe we should give simple items along with teaching them some of our special talents.  I read one really neat suggestion.....give a child a wooden spoon and a bowl, tie a note onto the spoon that gives them an afternoon alone with Gramma baking cookies.  Or, how about taking them to a concert, play or sporting event?  This might sound cheesy to some, but this kind of gift grows bigger and bigger as the child grows.  The memorable experience itself will get exaggerated and embellished.  He/she will never forget it.

Young families are having a hard time making ends meet, mainly because our society aims for a lifestyle that doesn't equal the paychecks.  No one wants to back up and take the road that leads to a more moderate way of living, but why not?  I think we'd all be surprised at the number who would follow suit, if only someone would make the first move. 

Going Green is a sure way to bring America back to the fundamentals.  Toys and devices do not make children happy.  They bring a satisfaction that is short-lived.  We go to garage sales where driveways are filled with tables of toys. The kids could care less that the parents are getting rid of them.

Bottom line:  We'd all be happy to spend our money for merchandise with labels that read "Made in America."  American parents are getting laid off and losing their jobs only because the corporates don't care.  All they see is enormous dollar signs.  More for them.  Less for the average American.  We are a profoundly powerful country.  No one could ever convince me that we couldn't turn this economy problem around if we simply brought our jobs back home, put our own people to work, and for god sake get rid of the enormous hand-outs that are depleting every worthwhile fund that we've worked so hard to establish.  There's definitely a deficit in America.  But the little guy hasn't caused it.  The big boys have.  Let's not get snookered in by their slick strategies.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Village Painted With Tears

Today we pack away all things orange and bring out all things red and green!  Our napkin holder with bright orange napkins tells me so.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we Christians focus on Christmas and the meaning of the birth of the Baby Jesus.  The Nativity, or creche, or crib, is the sweet reminder of the story told in the gospels.  There are countless different nativity scenes available, some with the Magi, shepherds, and other stable animals.  A few years back a friend of mine signed up for a drawing, and she won the complete Willow Tree Nativity set.  What a beautiful thing to win, and I can only imagine the joy it brings to their home each Christmas.


A Peek at Winter Harbor, Maine
 Back in 2001, following a tragic death in our family, I worked my way through a horrible sadness by painting a Christmas village.  I remember coming home from the office so weary I felt like collapsing, changing into sweat pants and sweatshirt, and forcing myself to sit at the kitchen island with bottles of acrylic paints and tiny-tipped paint brushes.  Brush strokes, along with the tears of my sorrow, eventually gave color to 25 village pieces, including a music store, donut shop, pet store, tea houses, a bakery, library, a country church, a school, and a neighborhood of mansions where the financially wealthy people could live.  One Christmas while we were setting the village up, the ice cream parlor and one of the houses accidentally fell and broke, leaving 23 pieces. 

Every year since when I shop for Christmas presents, I can't resist searching for more characters to put in my village and accessories to bring imaginary activity to Winter Harbor, Maine.  We made an ice skating pond out of a mirror, have skaters and one little fellow putting his skates on, and around the pond we arranged small rocks that I brought home with me from my last trip to Maine.  A lighthouse blinks its beckoning light, all the houses and stores are lighted, and when it gets dark in the evening, even now we're still amazed at what a broken spirit and a bleeding heart was able to do.

Today's Trivia:  St. Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223 at Greccio, Italy, in an attempt to place the emphasis of Christmas upon the worship of Christ rather than upon secular materialism and gift giving.  Staged in a cave near Greccio, St. Francis' nativity scene was a living one with humans and animals cast in the Biblical roles.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dripping Gravy

To all those reading my blog, I wish you a Blessed and Beautiful Thanksgiving.  May the gravy on your dinner plate drip over the sides!

First, the lobster vs. prime rib poll is in, and lobster has it with 75%.  Thanks to those who took the time to vote. 

The fuzzy member of our household had her little paw on my head earlier than necessary this morning, but she had good reason to coax me downstairs.  She immediately went to her potty papers and took care of business.  She's amazing.

Logic tells me today's blog should include some words of wisdom about Thanksgiving.  So, here goes. 

Q:  How do you keep a turkey in suspense?





A:  I'll let you know next week!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Spectacular Unfolding of Seasons

The furnace kicked in a minute ago.  Brrrrrrrrr.  It' must be 'told outtide.'

Yesterday we bought groceries for our Thanksgiving dinner here at home.  We'll have shrimp cocktails for appetizers, a big bird dinner with all the trimmings, with a pumpkin pie and whipped cream.  Most likely after we polish off our plates, we'll fall flat on our couch and recliner into deep digestive naps.

I bought a bag of fresh cranberries, cuz I like to put them in champagne.  They bob up and down with the bubbles,  plus they're a pretty garnish this time of year for any refreshment.  Cranberries are supposed to be good for our innards, and we do buy cranberry juice all year long to incorporate into our diets.  As I've said before, tart foods are appealing to my palate, so I can eat cranberries right out of the bag.

After we were finished grocery shopping and stopped at the pharmacy for our drug refills, we decided to take another one of our day drives.  The weather was far too nice to go right back home.  We stopped at a small-town cafe, and both of us ordered the special of the day which was scalloped potatoes and ham.  Served with green beans, choice of salad, a biscuit with butter.  The potatoes were prepared with a white sauce, just like what I make at home.

Christmas music was piped out into the streets, and that really put us in the mood to walk through stores, and sample Christmas cookies.  One shop had all sorts of dips and chips for sampling plus hot apple cider.  We had fun looking at all the things for sale, and, in fact, we bought two Christmas gifts.

The candy store sold old-fashioned hard dipper ice cream cones.  My hubby asked if I would like one.  I simply put my arm out and said, "twist it."  Omigod, the pecan praline was a swirl of vanilla ice cream, pecans, and caramel.  We both slurped and licked.  Talk about satisfying the sweet teeth!

Winter is definitely tip-toeing in.  We stopped to take a photo of ice forming on a waterway.  Mother Nature doesn't charge admittance to her art gallery.  One can stay as long as one wants, loiter, admire, and return the next day for an entirely new display.

Today we're going to make Thanksgiving treats for our neighbors. Each holiday I try to come up with something original.  This year we'll be making Pilgrim hats out of cookies, peanut butter cups, and frosting.  For the buckle I'll use orange Tic Tacs because I couldn't find Chicklets.  One of our big blessings at this stage of life is having a neighborhood of young people who have grown to be like our family.

Tata.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We're Going to England!

Today's blog holds a major announcement.  It's our one and only chance to boast and brag that our "shed-jul" is full for the week of April 29, 2011.  We're about 99% sure that we will be receiving an invitation to the royal wedding.  We're ecstatic, cuz we've never been to the Westminster Abbey before.

But, now the problem is......what to wear.  One thing for sure.....I must don a hat with feathers.  Yup, that's what I'll do.  My husband wears a baseball cap most of the time, but I think he may have to leave that at home. 

Just try to picture the foods that royalty will serve us for an affair of this magnitude.  I'm going to eat until I bust, you can bet on that.  Rumor has it that the royals are going to keep the global recession in mind.  I promise to write several blogs describing the entire experience from the time we leave American soil till we pull back in the driveway.  And, I'm sure we'll have lots of pictures taken with the newlyweds, Queen Mother and Phil, Cam and Chuck, and I'll share those with you as well.

Mine
What will the future mother-in-law Camilla wear?  I'm praying that she and I don't choose the same feathery flounce for our heads.  That would be disastrous.  I'm thinking maybe pheasant feathers will adorn my head, and I'm thinking she'll more than likely choose peacock feathers for hers.

Cam's
I have previously vowed never to wear panty hose again, so this presents a problem for me.  Do you think they will allow their lady guests to wear pants?  Hmmmm.  Guess I've never seen Queen Mother wearing them.  But, rumor has it that Will and Kate are relaxing past stiff royal traditions.  Let's hope so.  Nah, they won't care if I wear my black pants and checkered jacket.  Yup, I think I won't even have to go shopping.....except for that darned hat.  But, there is the possibility that my neighbor boys could shoot a pheasant, we could carefully pluck the long feathers, and I could design my own.  Then it would be an original......and, wouldn't they bloody well envy me then!

I will be so disappointed if we don't receive that precious piece of parchment in the mail.  But, as I said, there's a 99% chance we will, and those are some pretty good odds, I'd say.  Please don't be jealous, now.  After all, I did promise I'll write and tell you all about it! 

Oooooh, I'm so excited I could pee in my pants!  Ta-ta.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Prayer

If prayer has power, then here's one for those of us who need all the help we can get! 

Lord, keep me from the habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.


Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details--give me wings to get to the point.


I ask for grace enough to listen to the tales of others' pains.  Help me to endure them with patience.  But seal my lips on my own aches and pains--they are increasing and my love of rehashing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.


Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally it is possible that I may be mistaken.


Keep me reasonably sweet.  I do not want to be a saint.  Some of them are so hard to live with.  But a sour old person is one of the crowning works of a life gone astray.


Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people.  And give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.


Make me thoughtful, but not moody; helpful, but not bossy.  With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all--but Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.  Amen  (Anonymous)

Isn't that an adorable prayer?  Why do I think it's adorable?  Because I can relate to it, that's why.  I'm walking through the frickin' doors of Geezer Kingdom.  Oh, I don't want to focus on aging again, because I adore young people.  They are here not of their own accord, so why not lay out some blueprints for them so when they get to where I am, they'll be able to build their own walls to keep them sheltered from life's unexpected stormy surprises.

Okay, so here's another question:  Is the need to pray born into us?  Or, is that our knee-jerk reaction from years of religious schooling?  I can remember my mom teaching me to pray when I was very little.  We'd pray, "God bless momma, daddy, my sibling, and then list off grammas, grampas, aunts, uncles, and special cousins and special friends."  She taught me to fold my hands when I prayed.  That early lesson in prayer was closely akin to potty training.

Regardless, the older I get, the more I find myself praying.  I truthfully must admit that I'm not exactly sure who or what I'm praying to, but I feel there's a Force out there, a Divine Planner.  Not necessarily a guy wearing a white robe studded with diamonds surrounded by flying naked babies.  No, I don't have enough money to buy that.

My prayers are different now than they used to be.  Now I thank.  Every night I review the high spots of my day, how grateful I am for the gift of our good health, our retirement, the gift of my little family, my little house, my simple life, and my world of dear friends, and even those across the globe who read my blog.  My list of thank-yous is endless, really.  So, I say a blanket prayer, one that covers everything.

Yesterday we lazied around the house, watched football, racing, the cooking channel, we napped, and actually I stayed in my jammies all day.  In the evening my hubby fixed us girls pork chop and dressing supper.  I'm not sure we deserved such a plate of yummies, but we, again, were thankful for the fact that we live with a guy who loves to cook.

I see there's a slight fog or mist out again.  One of these days we'll be seeing the white stuff.  I don't have to shovel snow, so, again, something to be grateful for.  Guess I'm spoiled, or loved.  One or the other.  I'd say it's the latter.

The floor lamp beside me is lit.  It's a small lamp that we bought at a thrift store.  Both of us clammed onto it at the same time....just what we had been searching for.  It provides me enough light to read, but doesn't light up the whole room.  The fireplace is lit and the flickering yellow flames are pretty in the semi-darkness.  Some years back we converted our fireplace over to an electric insert.  We got to where cutting wood was too much work, plus burning wood made such a mess.  Now with a switch of a button a most-genuine looking fire magically appears.

Gosh, I see the trolley is waiting, so I'd best hop on.  Ta-ta for today!

Today's Quote:  An expert is someone who tells you a simple thing in a confused way in such a fashion as to make you think the confusion is your fault.  -William Castle

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cookies and Compassion

The cookie poll results are in, and the chocolate chip wins as favorite, oatmeal raisin wins second place, with the peanut butter cookie coming in last.  The poor little old Oreo received no votes.  Just goes to show that most of us prefer a homemade cookie over a store-bought cookie.  Thanks for your votes and check out the new poll!

Where I live, it's misting and dismally dark.....but, cozy indoors.  The fireplace and lamps are lit, the perfect ambiance for a Sunday morning.  Even the coffee tastes better on Sunday.

The week before Thanksgiving has held darkness for our family  the past 45 years.  My husband's older brother was killed by a drunk driver in a car accident the eve of Thanksgiving.  No matter how many years pass, the embers of the heart are fanned with memories that reignite the aching void.

Celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas is great fun when  all hearts are happy and minds are at peace, but they can be terribly lonely times for others, particularly those who are forgotten in rest homes.  Both of our mothers were residents of a rest home, so we know first-hand what it is like for those who reside there.  It was gut-wrenching the first time I felt the touch of a feeble outstretched arm of a mother who thought I was her daughter.  All I could do was hold that bony little hand of a stranger in mine and offer her comfort as though I was. 

This is the time of year when our older generations need us the most because of loneliness.  We have to remember that our generation will be sitting in those wheelchairs next.  We all fear the onset of Alzheimer's; but, could it be possible that dementia is a gift from our Creator?  a way for us to be spared the cruel slaps that memory gives us when we are tuned in to reality?

Wouldn't it make for a beautiful Christmas gesture if each one of us would take a small amount of time to visit a rest home this holiday season?  Perhaps bake a plate of those homemade chocolate chip cookies for them or just go sit and talk.  We do that now, and the rewards are immediate and intense.  Their gratitude can be overwhelming.  It truly can.  Once we see the tears pooling in their clouded eyes, we know we've made a significant difference in some one's journey.

I don't know about the rest of the baby boomers, but I'm beginning to realize what it feels like to trudge up those last steps of life's ladder.  It's obvious that we're already being categorized by the color of our hair, the way we walk, the wrinkles in our skin, and our loss of hearing, just as we judged the generations before us.  When will the Western Hemisphere wise up and value the aging process for what it really is.  Do we place a stigma on marathon runners who are farther in the lead?  No.  We call them winners. 

Let's all remember those sweet souls out there who have been removed from their homes only because of human frailty and are nearing the finish line, with no one noticing or caring.  They don't ask for our presents, but I know that our presence would mean the world to them.  They will hold our kindness forever in their hearts and carry us with them to Heaven when their race is finally over.

Today's Quote:  Wrinkles are the service stripes of life.  Anonymous

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Common Loaf of Bread

Oh, dear, lots of hullabaloo coming to us from our mother country these days.  Royalty is setting the world stage for another matrimonial ceremony in 2011.  Rather than the customary British splash, wouldn't it be sweet if William and Kate would marry in a country chapel, quietly profess their love for one another, and donate the money saved to the English commoners?

Even though Kate herself is a commoner, she does exude the presence of a princess.  Her taste of clothing has through the years been stylish and very complimentary to her slender form.  William had better treat this stunning lady better than his daddy treated his mommy. 

This morning's breakfast is to be very special at our house.  Yesterday we visited an Amish bakery.  By the time we got there, they were already sold out, but had another batch of bread and pans of sweet rolls baking in the ovens.  The aroma brought back days when our moms baked homemade bread at home.  I remember slathering Mom's warm bread with soft butter and honey. My hubby remembers putting butter, sugar and cinnamon on his Mom's homemade bread.

While we waited for the bread to bake, we visited with the Amish ladies as they diligently watched their bread, turning the loaves as they baked so they'd bake evenly.  We noticed the burn marks on their arms between wrist and elbow, most likely gotten from reaching into the ovens.   They told us that this summer their kitchen temperatures rose to 100 degrees with the ovens going.  One of the boys in the family made vents in the kitchen ceiling that could be opened, and that helped cool them down.  They also told us how the rising price of flour, butter, and eggs is affecting their profits.  

The Amish culture fascinates us, and we find ourselves driving to their communities often when we get hungry for a good homemade pie, donuts, or their wonderful breads.  We get a sense of ease from their simpler customs and traditions.  Maybe they remind us of how our lives used to be when we were growing up. 

We had our choice of 7-grain or honey wheat.  We chose a loaf of the 7-grain.  Let me tell you, the savory scent of that loaf of bread in the back seat of our car about drove us nuts.  We were tempted to stop and buy a pound of butter and dig right into it.  But, we reined in our urgings and saved the bread for this morning's breakfast.  Now we're glad we did.

One can't help but think how Kate Middleton has decided to give up life as she's known it to live under a magnifying glass, where she will have to watch every word she says, never be able to offer her own opinion, will always have to be perfectly attired, or the tabloids will eat her up and spit her out.  In my opinion, we commoners are far better off cuz we can be who we are, not having to be plastic people programmed for proper procedures and protocol.  We can toss out a few cuss words here and there, we can have bad hair days, we can wear comfy clothes, all the while knowing that nobody really gives a hoot about us in the first place.  I'll bet my last dollar that the day will come when Princess Kate will wish she could be standing in her 100-degree kitchen tending to her humble loaves of bread baking in a wood-burning oven.  We'll wait, watch and see, won't we?

Friday, November 19, 2010

An Unappreciated Sector

One week from today is black Friday.  The day when anxious shoppers get up at wee hours, wait in line until retail stores open, and then push themselves through the doors, fighting their way to the big sales that the store owners cast out as bait to lure Christmas shoppers in their stores. Once again, we Americans are paying more attention to the day after than the day of Thanksgiving.    

Ralph and Ed
When it comes to saying thanks, I think a lot of the the time we forget about one pretty important sector of our society.....those dedicated men and women who dispose of our garbage and monitor and update our waste management systems.  I remember watching Ed Norton on The Honeymooners back in the 50's.  Ed Norton worked for the Sewer Department, and his big buddy Ralph Cramden drove a city bus.  Both these guys took pride in their jobs, as well they should have.

At least two times every year the drainage pipes in our basement get blocked by tree roots. Let me tell you, this ain't no happy time and the first thing we do is call the guys who have the proper equipment to snake out the line that runs from our house to the main pipe in the street. Isn't it ironic how we don't give much thought to these workers when things are working right. But, just let our pipes block up, and then holy hell breaks loose and we expect them to put us first on their customer list.


In our town, one day a week we set our garbage cans out on the boulevard, and without fail in the early morning hours we hear the big garbage truck drive up and stop.  One man hangs on the side of the truck between stops, jumps off, empties the can into the back-end, then he jumps back up on the side board, and off they go to the next house.  This is one service that I don't take for granted.  Mainly because  I remember when we were first married in the late 1960s, we had to load up our weekly garbage and haul it out to the local dump and unload it ourselves.    
 
This Thanksgiving, lets all take a minute to prayerfully thank these environmentalists who are quietly tending to some pretty distasteful tasks in order to maintain and improve our quality of life. Can you just imagine what life would be like without them? 

This Christmas I'm going to make it a point to give these guys a tray of homemade cookies or a box of store-bought candy.  I'll just bet they don't often get remembered for the mighty essential work that they do for us every day of the year.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

100 Things About Me

Wasn't sure I could do it........but, I did. 

Six months ago I followed an inner beckoning to design and create my Retired Nature Weaver blog site.  I remember being apprehensive about sharing my thoughts and opinions.  Before that, my writings were kept private in spiral notebooks, tucked away in drawers. Now, my morning ritual requires my digging in forgotten places of my memory for things to write about.  Blogging has enriched my retirement by allotting time each day for my passion for writing.  Without it, a good part of me would be dormant.

So, this week is my 6-month blog anniversary, and I was trying to think of a challenging blog to commemorate this mini milestone.  I asked  myself what I would like to know about a person whose blogs I was following.  Hmmmm.  There was my answer.  I challenged myself to come up with a list of 100 things about myself to share with my faithful followers.  Here is the end result of that personal challenge.

         I...........
  1. like my steak medium well.
  2. am a Leo.
  3. am seriously afraid of heights.
  4. dislike shopping for clothes.
  5. The little girl in me!
  6. love to walk barefoot through water puddles.
  7. have recurring dreams of being on stage in a school play and forgetting my lines.
  8. am a defensive driver
  9. have never had a driving violation.
  10. eat my popcorn unbuttered.
  11. wear glasses.
  12. wear size 7 shoe.
  13. eat with a small salad fork.
  14. like my coffee strong.
  15. had my tonsils and adenoids and appendix removed.
  16. am the baby of the family.
  17. love thunderstorms so long as they aren't threatening.
  18. am a morning person.
  19. have brown eyes.
  20. prefer silver jewelry over gold jewelry.
  21. like raisin bran and cream of wheat cereals.
  22. gotta have ketchup.
  23. have one luxury--Chanel No. 5 perfume.
  24. am spiritual, not religious.
  25. sleep with a pillow over my eyes.
  26. bought a black Ford Falcon for my first car.
  27. had the mumps when I was a kid.
  28. chose brown velvet for my bridesmaids dresses.
  29. miss Johnny Carson before bedtime.
  30. would like to live in Maine.
  31. don't like having my picture taken.
  32. weigh the most I ever have.
  33. have a good sense of direction.
  34. can write my name backwards.
  35. don't drink milk.
  36. own too many crochet hooks.
  37. have been told I have cute feet.
  38. like the British comedy, "Keeping Up Appearances."
  39. like playing mahjong.
  40. got my first job at age 14, retired at 59, worked 45 years.
  41. am worn out.
  42. took piano lessons for 9 years.
  43. don't know how to swim.
  44. never wear anything sleeveless.
  45. still have two wisdom teeth.
  46. love reading by the fireplace.
  47. don't ride roller coasters or other carnival rides.
  48. own too many spiral notebooks.
  49. get my contentment from Mother Nature.
  50. like deep discussions and getting to know what other people think.
  51. like Chardonnay wine.
  52. prefer quaint taverns and bars.
  53. don't care for beer.
  54. am afraid of basements.
  55. go crazy for chocolate cake with ice cream and caramel sauce.
  56. love taking afternoon naps.
  57. have no allergies.
  58. don't like overhead lighting, only table or floor lamps.
  59. love freshly washed bedsheets.
  60. always sleep with at least a sheet over me.
  61. love to study and learn new things.
  62. look awful in pastel colors.
  63. like sunny side up eggs, soft centers to dip toast in.
  64. oftentimes like animals more than people.
  65. love to sit on a dock and splash my feet in the water.
  66. work lots of crossword puzzles.
  67. think I want to be cremated.
  68. have learned to say the word 'no.'
  69. enjoy attending cultural events.
  70. have a warm internal temperature setting.
  71. have a special place in my heart for bluebells.
  72. collect quotations.
  73. look in the night sky for the Big Dipper because it grounds me.
  74. dislike cottage cheese.
  75. pick up unusual rocks wherever I go.
  76. have never found a four-leaf clover.
  77. cherished my Gramma, and she died when I was 12.
  78. wear hoodies.
  79. have seen the Northern Lights.
  80. have several nicknames.
  81. wish I was left-handed like daddy was.
  82. have common sense.
  83. am dependable.
  84. am silly.
  85. would like to attend a piano concert at Carnegie Hall.
  86. am compassionate.
  87. can get quite pissy at times.
  88. see things either black or white, no gray areas.
  89. was born in rural America.
  90. believe that 'stupid is as stupid does.'
  91. find the older I get, the harder it is for me to trust others.
  92. am low maintenance.
  93. can read multiple books at the same time.
  94. spent one year studying the Old and New Testaments.
  95. won't ever wear pantyhose again.
  96. have a Santa collection.
  97. am a yard sale and second-hand/thrift store junkie
  98. suffer horrible heartache when I hear or see cruelty to animals.
  99. don't care for people who are full of themselves.
  100. like lobster and broiled scallops.
  101. like tart apples right off the tree.
TA-DA!  Hey, that was fun.  Maybe we tend to focus so much on what others are doing that we fail to zoom in our selves.  I think, too, that a list like this would be really neat to pass down to children and grandchildren.  Then they'll be able to figure out where their individual quirks are coming from! 

Oh, by the way, I've added another poll.  This time it's about cookies....the kind we eat!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Baby Alert!

This morning I'm thrilled to announce that a Baby Alert has been issued!  Last evening we received an email sharing that our dear friends are about to be grandparents for the second time.  They have one little granddaughter now.  When that little girl was told she was going to have either a brother or sister, she was asked first if she'd like a little sister.  She said, No.  Then her parents asked if she'd like a little brother.  She said, No.  She said she wants a rabbit.

Congratulations to the grandparents-to-be, to the parents to-be, to the uncle-to-be.  Whether it's a boy or it's a girl, we know that little girl #1 will be a good helper.  Either that, or the parents may find baby #2 in a bunny cage!!!!!!

I'm up fairly early this morning.  The eastern sky is a dreamy pink right now. 

I'd best report the results of the poll that I placed on my blog last week.  The question was whether participants would be interested in a universal religion.  Three votes came back in favor, and one vote opposed.  75% of the poll-takers are in favor of universal religion.  This is how statistics are made.

We went out for lunch yesterday after running our weekly errands.  Have you noticed that buffets have started charging extra for beverages?  We have been regulars at this restaurant, and yesterday's bill was noticeably higher for a noon lunch.  Not only did the price of the buffet go up, but now they charge extra for tea.  Wonder at what point we'll have to start paying for a glass of water.  When that happens, you'll be seeing me wearing a flask around my neck.

Yesterday we visited a new yarn shop in town.  Such beautiful textures and colors.  All so classy compared to the plain old ordinary Red Heart acrylic yarn that I buy.  The lady working with the yarn showed us yarn that's made out of sugar cane.  It was so incredibly soft.  I almost bought a skein.  The reason I didn't buy it was because of the promise I made myself to use up all the yarn that I already have before bringing home some more.  Sometimes a person has to put the skids on. 

Winter gets me all enthused for working with yarns and fabrics.  I'll be getting out my loom and weaving rugs soon.  Seems all my hobbies fell to the wayside when I was dealing with hip replacement.  But, now that I'm feeling like my old self, I'll be poking my head in my hobby closet, bringing out projects to either finish or start. 

It's too early in the day to say what we'll be doing today.  The gypsy blood in me feels the urge to hit the road.  It doesn't take too much of a suggestion to put us on the road.  I'll just bet if I would do a family history, both our lines of ancestry would contain drops of Columbus blood. As I look out the window, however, the sky has already gone from that dreamy pink to gloomy gray.  Hmmmm.  Maybe we'll stay home.  I hear the upstairs floor boards squeaking, so my guy is on his way downstairs.  I'll see what he thinks.

Today's Quote:   If your baby is 'beautiful and perfect, never cries or fusses, sleeps on schedule and burps on demand, an angel all the time,' you're the grandma.  -Theresa Bloomingdale

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Clam Shell Buttons


Buttons Made from Clam Shells
 Happy National Button Day. 

Don't we all remember our Grammas and our Moms saving jars of buttons!  All sizes, shapes, colors.  Older buttons were fancy, some with rhinestone centers.  Ladies didn't think of throwing a piece of clothing away without first cutting off the buttons.  In fact, not so long ago I emptied a quart jar of buttons out on our livingroom floor and had fun simply sorting through them.  My favorite ones were the irridescent ones made from clam shells.

Our Grammas and Moms darned socks, they mended farmer overalls, bluejeans, and they were forever sewing on buttons.  Today, I'd be hard-pressed to find a spool of thread and a needle around the house. 

Thimbles were a mainstay in every lady's sewing basket, as well.  The thimble was worn over the finger that pushed the needle through the fabric.  The lowly thimble, too, has become a thing of the past. 

Buttons and thimbles, such little things, yet the memories they arouse are amazing, aren't they?  Then add the sound of a squeaky wooden rocking chair rocking back and forth, and it's just like pushing the rewind button on life.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bumps in the Road

A pretty morning follows yesterday's first snowfall.  The sun is shining, and the air is nippy.  I must say, it's a perfect November day for where I live.

Well, almost perfect.  When I logged onto my laptop this morning to write my blog, I first checked to see if we had any new emails.  Omigod, all our email contacts were gone.  Yup, our email address book is empty.  Zip.  My knee-jerk reaction was a hacker, and what if the hacker sent out some obscene emails from our email account to our friends. 

I immediately called MJ and CN to see if they'd gotten a spam obscenity from us this morning.  We discussed the email problem for a while, but then chatted about other stuff.  Good thing I had computer problems, cuz we sure had a nice unexpected phone visit.  We even set in motion a day trip one day soon when the weather is nice like it is today.

As for the email problem, I've decided to set up a new email account for us within the next day or so.  The Internet is wonderful, but it is not without its problems, that's for sure.  I'll be able to retrieve most of the addresses from our 'sent' file. 
Every day we wake up to new bumps in the road, don't we?  Life is a flowing stream of small annoyances that need our attention and take up our time.  Patience is the key word.  Sometimes I have it, and sometimes I don't.  Depends on my mood, and it depends on the size of the bump. 

A few nights ago I went upstairs to bed, and the second I laid my head down I remembered I didn't do something I'd intended to do.  It was like somebody hit me in the head with a sledge hammer.  My mind kept festering about it until I finally got out of bed, came back downstairs and took care of it.  If I hadn't, I most likely would have laid there, eyes wide open, unable to get a good night's sleep. I don't know why it is, but the later in the day it gets, the more things bother me.

A person feels a whole lot better if we're able to talk about stuff that bothers us.  In our household, we have an open-end policy with regard to this.  I couldn't imagine living with someone that I couldn't have heart-to-heart talks with.  The more a person bottles things up, the more tendency there is for us to blow up. Our minds have a way of dramatizing little things and puffing them up into big things.  Wouldn't it be nice if we had a knob on the side of our heads, like the old-time radios, where we could simply tune down our thoughts to manageable size. 

Oh, we know better, and we try not to let things upset us.  But, it's not that easy.  Here's a little story that says it best.

Late in the month of December, an elementary school principal said to his teachers, "Let's all write out our New Year's resolutions about how we can be better teachers, and I'll put them on the staff bulletin board.  That way, we can be mutually supportive of our efforts to keep those resolutions.


The teachers agreed that it was a good idea and when the resolutions were posted, they all crowded around the bulletin board to read them.  One of the young teachers in the group suddenly went into a fit of anger.  "He didn't put up my resolution!  It was one of the first ones in.  He doesn't care about me.  That just shows what it's like around here."


On and on she ranted.  The principal overheard all of this from his office down the hall and was mortified.  He hadn't meant to exclude her resolution.  Quickly rummaging through the papers on his desk, he found it and immediately went to the bulletin board and tacked it up.  The resolution read, "I resolve not to let little things bother me anymore." 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Yesterday's Coffee

Either I'm nuts, or the world is going to hell in a handbasket!

The media is picking up some pretty meaty auction prices lately, don't you think?  A Chinese vase, found while cleaning out a house in London, sold this week for $68 million.  And, how about Bernie Madoff's used boxers and sox selling for $6,000?

Oh, and Tiger seems to be rallying fairly well after his hitting a hazardous hydrant.  I see his new $50 million estate has recently been completed.  Not a bad place for a single man, with a sex addiction, to hang out (oops).  One can only speculate if women will be allowed on the premises.

What bugs me most about all of this is the fact that this morning when I came downstairs I decided to re-heat yesterday's left-over coffee.  Why?  Because the price of coffee is going up.

As I sit here, I try to imagine what life would be like for us Americans if we didn't have the news media spoon-feeding us all this kind of stupid news and giving us our daily mega-doses of human suffering.  We not only have our homes and families to take care of in a recession, but on top of that we have to cope with constant threats of terrorism, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, now a cholera outbreak in Haiti, fear of world hunger and food shortages, global warming, possible UFO sightings and the possibility of aliens descending upon us, and the ever-worsening Mideast wars.  Every disaster on this Earth sits with us in our livingrooms.  We are "on the scene" as the disaster is happening.  News reporters stand in the middle of a hurricane telling us that the wind is picking up with threatening force while their scalp practically blows off their heads.  My memory of the Indonesian tsunami as it came out of the ocean and destroyed a quiet village sticks in my mind and actually haunts me.  How much does all of this horrible stuff really affect the human body and mind?  Could this overload of bad news be the reason we're all taking anti-anxiety pills, or probably should be, so we don't just mentally explode?

Guess I'm just venting my personal angst this morning.  I'm simply one little soul, sitting in my quaint little cottage, thinking thoughts that are way too big for me.  Maybe I oughta work the Sunday crossword and be done with it.

.....as I sip yesterday's warmed-up coffee!

Thought for the Day:  If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can't buy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Saturday at Home

Wintry weather.  Nice weekend to cocoon.  Am sipping a bloody mary that my hubby mixed for me.  My fuzzy one is cuddled beside me in the snuggler.  Yesterday we went grocery shopping, bought sausage for brunch today, but we must've forgotten to take it out of the shopping cart.  Drat.  Far too many senior moments.

Yesterday I added a new element to my blog.  A poll vote.  I didn't know what my first poll question should be, so I chose something fairly generic.  This is simply for fun, and I welcome participation.  As I've said before, the philosopher in me never sleeps, and I really value the opinions of others.  So, if you like opinion polls, please join in.  It's a way for my followers to become an active part of my blog.

We refilled our cupboards yesterday at the grocery stores with the usual necessities, like paper towels, puppy pads for our little fur girl, canned stuff, a couple loaves of bread, and other odds and ends.  We visited more than one store, simply because we take advantage of their sales.  The merchandising industry would call us, "cherry pickers." 

It's the season to bake chicken, so I bought poultry seasoning for dressing.  At our house, we just love dressing made from dried bread.  I remember back in the 1970s we were in Upstate New York and we stopped at a quaint inn for lunch.  The special of the day was "turkey and filling."  The waitress was taken aback when we asked her what filling was.  Well, we came to find out that their filling was like our dressing, or stuffing. 

This time of year certain foods become more appealing.  Like cranberries.  They add a special zing to a baked chicken or turkey dinner.  Both of our families like to add saurkraut to 'bird' meals, as well.  I foresee quite a bit of chowing down the next couple of months.  I've already started an online search for holiday appetizers.  I try to come up with something different each year.  Last year I made a cheese and fruit appetizer in the shape of a turkey. 

This afternoon the public television channel features home-improvement shows.  My hubby loves watching them, and I've grown to accept Saturday afternoon as a time when I can sharpen my carpentry skills.  There's one thing that bugs me a whole lot about these programs, and that's when women pretend to be house builders.  They're decked out with their carpenter's belt and tools, lots of times they wear shorts and high work shoes, and they're telling us how to insulate a basement or tile a bathroom floor.  Come on, people, this is done only to stroke the feathers of the women who are fighting for equality.  Be assured, I want my equality, but I sure don't want to be expected to work like a man.  Till my dying day, I love it when a man opens a door for me and treats me like a lady.  Sometimes when we're out shopping a stranger will open a door for me.  I always make it a point to thank him and maybe add a few words, like, "what a gentleman you are."  Without fail, their eyes light up, and they are pleased.  I've had responses like, "I try."  We women can treat men pretty crappy lots of times, and maybe they don't open a door for us cuz they know we don't appreciate it anyway.

My philosophy is that guys will treat us like ladies... if we treat them like gentlemen.

Today's Humor:  We women should marry men our own age.  That way, as our beauty fades, so will their eyesight.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Word Artillery


We are living in a fast-paced society that's gaining momentum every day, so it seems to me.  I must say that I kinda get a kick out of the new words being used by our younger generations, like...... 

chillax (verb) :  chill and relax

porching (verb) : to spend time on a porch

stinkeye (noun) : a dirty look

befuzzel (verb) : to confuse and bewilder

squozen (verb) : nonstandard past participle of 'squeeze'

vollie (noun) :  one who volunteers

frocs (noun) :  shoes that look similar to Crocs, immitation Crocs

frood (noun) : an organized and attractive person

scrumdiddlyumptious (adjective) : very delicious

hunkalicious (adjective) : attractive and muscular  (oooh, I like that one)

boomeritis (noun) : injury or pain resulting from exercise among baby boomers.

Oh, there are gobs more, but these I think I can quite easily incorporate in my daily conversation.  I want to stay hip, for heaven's sake.  And, that's another thing........when we were teenagers, we were "hip" if we were way cool and up on things.  Then the term "hippy" came to identify a group of young people who ventured away from the norm and took a carefree-and-don't-tell-me-what-to-do lifestyle.  Now, when I look in the mirror, the word "hippy" presents me with yet another completely different meaning.

So, next time we see each other, please don't get befuzzeled, or give me a stinkeye, if you see me wearing my frocs.  My toes are tired of being squozen in regular shoes!  Due to my boomeritis, today I'm simply going to chillax and fantasize about a hunkalicious frood.  I think it's too cold outside for porching, so will stay indoors.  Maybe we'll start the oven and bake something scrumpdiddlyumptious.  It's okay for me to do all this, cuz I did my vollie work earlier in the week.

Ta-ta!

A Bit of Humor:   The bride said she wanted three children, while the young husband said two would be enough for him.  They discussed this discrepancy for a few minutes until the husband thought he'd put an end to things by saying boldly, "After our second child, I'll just have a vasectomy."  Without a moment's hesitation, the bride retorted, "Well, I hope you'll love the third one just as if it's your own."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

No Soldier is Unwounded in War

It is the Soldier
by Fr. Dennis Edward O'Brien
"It is the Soldier,
not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of press.

"It is the Soldier,
not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

"It is the Soldier,
not the campus organizer,
who gives us freedom to demonstrate.

"It is the Soldier,
who salutes the flag,
who serves beneath the flag,
and whose coffin is  draped by the flag,
who allows the protester to burn the flag."

*****************

Today we honor the veterans who were called to protect us and did. 

During the Viet Nam War, my office was in the same building as the local draft board.  When boys were drafted into the service, they would gather at our building awaiting the bus that would pick them up to take them away to boot camp.  Guys that I knew stopped by my office to say good-bye.  I cried lots of tears over them leaving.  I said many prayers thanking my Creator for making me a girl.

*****************
It didn't take any coaxing yesterday for us to gather our fishing poles and head toward a lake.  For November 10th, the weather was just gorgeous.  Who can resist being out and about on a day with sweatshirt temperatures, warming sunshine and a cooling breeze.  We stopped to buy some night crawlers, and the store owner took his merry old time in the back room boxing up one dozen.  When we got to the lake and opened the box, the crawlers couldn't crawl.  Oh, well, we situated ourselves, put our lines in the water, visited about the pretty scenery surrounding us, and after an hour flew by neither of us had a nibble.  The fuzzy one was stretched out in the sunshine beside us, so we exercised our patience awhile longer.  Then finally decided the fish weren't hungry and left.

We dilly-dallied our way through a forest along a trout stream, and took some cool pictures of trees.  Both of us are enamored by trees.  Just like humans, every tree has its unique size and shape and flaws.  But, put all the trees together, and they create a covered canvas of exquisite outdoor grandeur.


Tree Trinity

I'm old, but notice I can still
provide a cozy home
for Nature's wee ones!



Looking Upstream









  









Rock Wall

Today's Trivia:  Legend tells us a long time ago women were allowed to live on Navy ships to keep company for sailor husbands and friends who had to stay for several months at sea without being in battle.  On occasion, a woman delivered a baby whose paternity could not be established with certainty.  On the birth certificate, authorities just noted "Son of a Gun," referring to the artillery found on the ships.  This has evolved into the common expression we use today.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Guilt: Punishing Yourself Before God Doesn't

My Conscience
If you are one of my regular treasured blog followers, today you will notice that yesterday's blog disappeared into cyberspace.  The reason for that is...me.  There's a Catholic gene  mixed into my blood, and it nourishes a place in my brain that triggers GUILT.  That horrid emotion that eats us alive if we either did something or didn't do something. Those who read yesterday's blog while it existed, know that I talked about a personal experience I had about fifteen years ago while attending a women's weekend retreat.  For whatever reason, my Catholic conscience haunted me all day....until I deleted it.

Today my husband isn't very pleased with me for deleting the blog, because he didn't get to read it.  He says I shouldn't do that.  He strongly feels that my blogs are my honest feelings, they belong to me, and that guilt shouldn't have such power over me.  So, this morning I'm sitting here regretting the deletion.  Oh, well, it's a good lesson for me.  Seems no matter how old I get, experience still has me sitting in the front row of its classroom.

Onto a happier note, we celebrated my hubby's birthday yesterday in fine fashion.  We left home about 8 o'clock in the morning and returned home about that time in the evening.  The main event was a Christmas tour of a famous mansion dolled up in its holiday finery.  We packed our day with one fun thing after another, until we parked our car in the driveway.  We couldn't help but laugh cuz both of us were groaning as we got out of the car, every muscle in our bodies protesting their overuse.  We laughed at our physical exhaustion, wondering what we'll feel like five years from now!

Buck In Front of Us
Outside a Store
Today's Trivia:  Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them used to burn their houses down......thus, the expression to "get fired."

Monday, November 08, 2010

A One-of-a-Kind Christmas!

This morning's newspaper has an article that mentions a new term...'surgical shopping.'  The Mall of America reports that their customers are coming to the stores and buying only items that are on their list...the things they need.  According to the article, the days of leisure shopping, buying this or that on a whim, are over. 

Our morning newspaper also tells about the free dental clinics that are being set up in various places.  The lines of people seeking dental advice and care are so long, many have to be turned away.  A sad state of affairs when we Americans are standing in line for our health care, when our money is being filtered to the wealthiest part of the world, the Mideast. 

With Christmas right around the corner, shopping most likely will present financial problems for many households.  This just doesn't have to be.  Simply find fun ways to redesign the gift-giving.  I can give this advice, because I've done this on both sides of our family with fantastic results.

We, first of all, have a pot-luck finger-food buffet.  Each family brings its signature foods that we all wait for.  Everybody is happy with this, rather than putting the burden of preparing a big meal on one household.  Sometimes I hear the girls talking in July about what they're going to bring to eat for Christmas!

Secondly, we have a $1 gift exchange.  The item cannot cost one penny more than $1.  I set the rules for this exchange.  Last year the gift had to be something blue, one year it had to be something starting with the letter "y."  You get the picture.  Of any of the exchanges, this one is by far the most fun.

Thirdly, our main $5 gift exchange is something different each year.  One year it had to be something to do with birds, and, let me say, that the creativity in our family blew the windows out!  One year we exchanged "something we already owned."  One of the gals got a tie, and my hubby got the cutest purse.  We literally fall on the floor laughing at what we get.  Last year we exchanged "hats" and, boy, did the fun start there!  Imagine a big strappin' guy sitting on my couch wearing an old-lady's hat with flowers and a veil.  Omigod, it was to die for. 

I'm the leader of these shenanigans, so I make each person open their present, one at a time.  Last year when they opened their hat, they had to wear it until all presents were opened.  It was an absolute gas seeing us all wearing the goofiest things on our heads.

I also come up with silly ways to exchange the presents.  The wildest was the year I read a story with the words "left" and "right" mentioned in it many times.  Everybody starts out holding a present, and each time I'd say "left" they'd pass their gift to the left.  Each time I'd say "right," they'd pass it to the right.  The presents go in all directions until the story is over and everybody keeps the present they're holding.

Now that it's November, I'll be putting on my thinking cap to come up with the silly gift-giving ideas for this year's celebrations.  When I decide, then I'll type out a memo setting out all the details and email it to family members.  That way they all know what the plan is and have plenty of time to start their scheming.  When the day arrives, the atmosphere starts out relaxed and stays that way, nobody has to out-do the other, nobody goes home hungry, and the best part is nobody has to fiddle around returning gifts that they don't want, they don't like, or they don't need. 

Also, I buy a "guess what" gift.  I find something in a thrift store that's kinda weird and cute.  Last year I found a little elf.  I wrap the "guess what" and then it is passed around to each person to lift, shake, and guess what it is.  The one who comes closest, gets it. 

The fun we have is so incredible, yet it costs practically nothing.  The basic reason we gather is to enjoy each other's company.  We serve champagne, mixed drinks, beer, soda, coffee, what anybody wants.  The funniest exchange we ever had was the year my mother received a pair of edible underwear from my husband's brother.  To watch an 80+ lady open up a pair of banana-flavored underwear was priceless.  She was, naturally, a good sport and perhaps partly the reason I'm so geared toward all this craziness in the first place. 

It's so simple to turn Christmas around, spend very little, and yet actually bring family members closer.  Sharing good-natured humor, pigging out on each other's kitchen creations, and putting our creative juices to work.......well, as far as we're concerned, it just doesn't get any better!  I buy Christmas paper plates, napkins, and plastic forks.  The only clean-up is getting out the garbage bag. 

Well, I've nicely succeeded to get myself all stirred up here.  I'd better start plotting this year's plan of attack!

Today's Trivia:  Why does the Christmas shopping season start so early?  During World War II, it was necessary for Americans to mail Christmas gifts early for the troops in Europe to receive them in time.  Merchants joined in the effort to remind the public to shop and mail early.  Thus, the drawn-out shopping season was born.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Bless Us, Oh Lord, and These thy Gifts.......

The first thing I do each and every morning after I get out of bed is open the curtain just enough to see what kind of a day it is, weather-wise.  Today is another beauty!  As of right now, we don't have plans, but I have a feeling we're going to be calling a family meeting here pretty soon to decide in which direction to point the car. 

My hubby is busy changing batteries in our smoke alarms.  He is devoted about doing that when the time changes, and I'm so grateful.  He tends to all things that keep us safe around here.   

We had unexpected company drop by last evening about 6 o'clock.  They insisted on taking us out for dinner, so we turned off the burner that was keeping the kettle of chili warm, and we quickly changed into more presentable duds and away we went.  Sometimes the unexpected and unplanned times are the most fun. 

We love Sunday mornings.  Regrettably, we don't attend public worship services, but that doesn't mean that our spirituality doesn't get proper attention.  Oh, don't worry, we know there are those who secretly shake their fingers at us for our non-traditional approach to worship, but that's okay.  "May those who love us, love us;  and those who don't love us, may God turn their hearts; and if He doesn't turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles so we'll know them by their limping."  (Irish blessing)

Hay Stacks
When we were younger, and our parents were living, an invitation for Sunday dinner was the best of times.  Both of our mothers were excellent cooks, and they'd fix big meals with meat, potatoes, gravy, homemade rolls or bread, and would have a pie or some other favorite dessert waiting for their big finale.  They encouraged second helpings, and we, the good children we were, obeyed our mothers.  Oh, those were the days.  We miss our mothers' cooking, but we have fun trying to replicate some of their holiday specialties.  Come Christmas, we'll be making my mother-in-law's favorite Haystacks where you coat a marshmallow in a melted caramel sauce and then roll it in rice krispies.  If anyone would like her recipe, just let me know and I'll share it. She was always more than happy to write down her recipes for others.  


With the holidays approaching, we'll all be thinking about food more than any other time of year.  My husband's family is in the process of setting a date for Thanksgiving.  Our schedule is incredibly flexible, cuz it's just the two of us.  We are happy to host, and we are happy to attend.  Makes no difference to us, just so long we we keep the strings of family tied.

I like trying new recipes.  When we put in our new kitchen cupboards, I wanted the cupboards above the stove to be reserved for Cook Books and nothing else.  It's packed tight and I see we've started piling a second layer.  We could get rid of all of them now that the Internet offers us recipes along with pictures of the finished dish.  But, there's still something heart-warming about the favorite pages of Mom's recipe book that have splotches of batter dried on or the remains of a kitchen spill.  Cook books are things we like to pass from generation to generation.  They're special possessions, and they're a way of clinging to the precious past.....like those Sunday dinners that once were.


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Time Is Free, Yet Priceless!

Tonight we "fall back."  That's how I remember which way we turn our clocks when DST changes in the fall.  We "spring ahead" in the spring.

Speaking of clocks, I wish I could see the Clocktower in London.  I just think it would have to be a goose-bump experience New Year's Eve to listen to the midnight chimes of Big Ben echo throughout the United Kingdom. 

Sitting here with my laptop, thinking about clocks and calendars, my mind just made a back flip to the significance of our time on Earth.  The philosopher in me never sleeps.  Never.

Let me share a haunting snippet from my childhood.  I was probably four or five years old when an old spinster neighbor lady died.   This was back in the 1950s when it was still common to have the wake in the home.  In my little-girl mind, this old lady scared the hell out of me when she was alive, so you can imagine how petrified I was standing in her kitchen being shuffled into the livingroom to look at her laying there deader than a duck in a box.  This was the very first dead person I'd ever seen, and it scarred me for life.  To this very day I'm not in favor of the traditional public viewing, and if anybody ever lays me out for people to gawk at after I croak, well, I shall come back and haunt with a vengeance.  I promise.  Parents of this new century shield their children from the harsh realities such as this, but that's not the way it was when I was a kid.  We were treated as adults and forced to face life (and death) as it happened with not even a sprinkle of sugar-coating.  Looking back, I honestly feel that someone should have given me a coloring book and colors, sat me at the kitchen table, and let it go at that. 

Who among us doesn't ponder our own 'disappearance act.'  We wonder what its going to be like, when it will happen, whether we'll go 'somewhere else' when our heart stops beating, where that 'somewhere else' will be, or if we simply close our eyes and go to sleep forever and ever.  One thing I know for sure is that when my mother was dying, I sat beside her bed holding her hand.  I asked her, "Momma, what's it like to die?"  She barely whispered, "It's okay."

During my web surfing, I happened upon a list of 77 reasons to love your life written by a fellow blogger on www.dragosroua.com/77-reasons-to-love-your-life/.  It's a list of sweet reminders of ordinary things that oughta spark a grateful prayer within us every day we are alive.

Since we retired, both of us purposely do not wind that godawful alarm clock that rocked our house with earthquake force every morning at 5 a.m. for over 40 years.  Now we sleep late, we stay up late, we eat when we're hungry, and on the whole we refuse to obey the rules imposed by the circular device hanging on the kitchen wall with its two hands pointing in all directions.

When we sold our camper, we kept the atomic clock that came with it.  The gadget is radio controlled to keep the most accurate time on earth.  It never needs setting, because it receives a low-frequency radio signal nightly to keep it in perfect synchronization with the U.S. Atomic Clock in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Tonight we won't have to turn this clock back, because it will automatically adjust itself for DST, and it will even adjust itself to leap years and leap seconds.  The Fort Collins transmitter has a radius of 1,864 miles, so it's available to most of the United States, except Hawaii and Alaska.  Ours is only a 5" square little thing, has amazing capabilities, but in our home it's totally disregarded as it sits all by itself on the mantle of our fireplace. 

Don't you just bet that Our Creator gets a real yuck out of us earthlings thinking we can monitor the pulse of the Universe with our wowing inventions?  He/She probably has a timepiece out there in the Great Beyond that would make Clocktower and Big Ben look like a pocket watch and our Atomic Clock look like a toy.  Whatcha think? 

Regardless, don't forget to turn clocks back tonight, and it's a perfect time to also check the smoke alarms in the house.

Ta-ta till next time!