Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Electric Energy

I'm sitting here with our electricity bill on my lap.  One can't help but wonder how the same house, same appliances, same everything can cost $132.84 a month when once it cost $15 a month. 

Our service company gives a breakdown of their charges, of course.  There's the Summer 1st Step charge, the Summer 2nd Step charge, the Energy Cost, the Regional Transmission Service, the Basic Service Charge, the State Tax charge, and the Local Tax charge.  Plus, I have to be careful to pay the bill by September 15th or they'll whack on the Late Payment charge, which would be an additional $1.99.

There is an electrical gadget, called a meter, attached to the south side of our house that counts the numbers of kWh's we use.  It's one of those services that we hope is on the straight and narrow, but that's putting faith in something we can't be sure about.

Our electricity provider does offer some good perks to their customers.  They will send a recycling contractor to pick up and dispose of old, working refrigerators and give up to $50 for them.  Keeping an old refrigerator in the garage, and running, can add up to as much as $100 a year.  They also recommend that before we dig up our yards for any kind of project, that we dial 811, their One-Call Center.  They will notify the utility companies, who will come and mark the locations of underground lines with flags or spray paint, for free.  Any yard project, like putting in a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree, or laying a patio are all projects that would need to check first before digging.  Hitting a utility line could be nasty business, one that a person does want to prevent.

If a storm comes through and knocks out the power, we all go berserk.  I have one easily-accessible drawer here in the hallway devoted only to candles for this specific scenario.  I buy these power-back-up candles at garage sales.  You'd be surprised how one candle lights up a dark room.  Always keep matches or a cigarette lighter close by, or you'll find yourself rummaging through drawers in the dark, wailing like a banshee.  Been there, done that.

Paying this electricity bill will be a breeze compared to the old-fashioned way of writing out a check, recording the amount in the checkbook, detaching the check from the checkbook, finding an envelope, addressing the envelope, putting the check and invoice in the envelope, finding and licking the stamp, and getting it to the post office.  Now all I do is open my online account, scoot over to the bill-paying screen, type in the amount, push a couple of computer keys and the bill is paid.

Guess I've got to be mindful of the latest luxuries, like online bill paying and blog writing, that are made available to me with these higher prices.  If I choose to use these services, then the cost of electricity is worth every penny. 

Bottom line is this, "If it weren't for electricity, we'd all be watching television by candlelight."  -George Global        

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday...Full of Grace

At 6 a.m. every Tuesday, a big truck stops in front of our house and picks up our weekly household disposals.  That's the only significance Tuesday plays in my life right now, but there's a whole lot more to Tuesday than that.....
  • Tuesday is a fairly popular first name for girls.  The one that comes to mind is Tuesday Weld.  She was one of our teen idols back in the 50s and  60s.  She played Thalia Menninger, the gold digging girl that Dobie Gillis couldn't get in the Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
  • Tuesday represents the planet Mars, primarily red in color.  Ancient holistic health practices encouraged wearing red and being around red flowers on Tuesday, as a way to improve general well-being through the subtle force of color.
  • If you were born on a Tuesday, the Mother Goose nursery rhyme tells that you would be 'full of grace.'
  • Before the religious Reformation, the day before Ash Wednesday was known as 'Fat Tuesday.'  That was because of the tradition of eating especially rich and fatty foods before the fasting started for Lent.
  • In the United  Kingdom and Ireland, 'Shrove Tuesday' is often known as 'Pancake Day' or 'Pancake Tuesday.'  The name Shrove originates from the old word shrive, which means to confess.  Back in the Middle Ages, Shrove Tuesday was traditionally a day of confession prior to Lent.  All eggs and butter not allowed during Lent would need to be eaten up on Shrove Tuesday, so they made pancakes.  Their basic batter was made by sifting 4 oz of plain flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl.  They made a well in the center of the flour, dropped in an egg and 1/2 pint of milk.  The mixture was beaten by gradually drawing the flour into the liquid until smooth. 
  • Australia's most famous Tuesday is the first Tuesday of every November, the day of the Melbourne Cup horse race.
  • Our federal elections here in the U.S. are held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.  Tuesday was practical for polling in the 1800s because citizens would have to travel for a whole day to cast their vote, and they didn't want to leave on Sunday, their day of worship.
When I think of Tuesday, the 1997 non-fiction novel "Tuesdays With Morrie," written by Mitch Albom comes to mind.  It's the story about a professor who suffers with Lou Gehrig's Disease.  He and his former student meet on Tuesdays to talk, and their talks become powerfully emotional as both of them watch Morrie's frail body parts surrender to death, one by one.

"No matter how hard we try,
 words cannot express the horror, the shock,
 and the revulsion
 we all feel over what took place
 in this nation on Tuesday morning.
September 11 will go down in our history
 as a day to remember." 
 -Billy Graham, American Evangelist

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Art of Simplifying Life

Simplicity, as Leonardo da Vinci wrote, is the ultimate sophistication.  Simplicity frees us from the artificial burdens, leaving us with energy to re-infuse into the world. 

It seems that when I take time to throw away material things, a simultaneous liberation goes on inside all of me.  The more stuff that I have to deal with, the more unrest there is inside of me. 

We don't have to look very far to see a growing number of unmet needs these days, ranging from caring for our elderly to helping educate our young people who are being left behind in the crowded classrooms.  When we're so smothered by our own decaying infrastructure, there's no time for us to contribute ourselves to the purposeful needs waiting to be met. 

Volumes have been written on how we can simplify.  They boil down to two things.....identifying what means the most to us......and getting rid of everything else.

Well, that's easier said than done, for me anyway.  In order for me to buckle down and get rid of stuff, I need a plan.  I'm one who needs a map to get where I'm going.  The more I see on paper, the easier it is.  Here again I go with this business of making lists.

1.  What 5 things do you want to do in your life?  Take a good look at what's going on in your life, what is giving your life value and what isn't. 
2.  It may be necessary to redesign your day.  It's senseless to devote precious time to work that just doesn't get us anywhere.  Identify the essential work and eliminate the rest.
3.  Anytime we can eliminate or delegate, let's do it.
4.  One major key to simplifying is learning how to say no when someone else wants our time.  Taking on too much is a problem we place on ourselves, and, therefore, have no right to complain or fret about it.  Since I retired, my goal is to "stay under the radar" and involve myself minimally in organizations that place me in the line of fire.  At this stage of the ballgame, I don't need that in my life, and I won't bring it on myself anymore.
5.  Do the one-room-at-a time evaluation.  Get rid of everything taking up space and making you crazy.  Even a piece of furniture can bug a person.  The last living room set we had was patterned, and the color literally drove me nuts every single day.  Then I snapped.  Either we replace it, or I would have to set it on fire.  Needless to say, the problem was eliminated, my nerves calmed, and life is good again.
6. Closets and drawers are awful places to visit.  The way I decide if I should get rid of a piece of clothing is by asking myself if I would wear it today.  It's obvious that if it's not good enough for me to wear it today, it isn't ever going to be worn.  In the bag it goes.
7.  Some people aren't comfortable spending time in solitude, but it has been proven that quiet time gives us time to hear our inner voice.  When we spend time alone, a channel opens for the Great Spirit to hand over helpful hints to get us through our journey.  He knows our path, and He knows what we need to walk it.
8.  Create systems.  One system that I've managed to simplify is the paperwork that trickles onto the kitchen counter every time we get the mail.  If paperwork isn't managed properly, it piles up and it's easy for us to be late in paying bills or being lax with routine matters, like insurance, investments, things like that.
9.  If we could program ourselves to want less, we would buy less.  Impulse buying brings more junk into our homes than anything else. 
10.  How much is enough?  If there isn't room for it, let's not buy it.  When I buy something and drag it home, I see to it that I discard something else.  Migod, if we don't do that, the pile takes on a life of its own and controls us.
11.  Getting rid of and simplifying the "busy-work" that we make for ourselves, will give us time to find a creative outlet.  We all need some form of self-expression, whether it be writing, drawing, or making strawberry jam.  There lives a cavity in each one of us that needs to be filled with our individual creative talents.  Creativity is critical to contentment.

Since I retired in 2006, I've taught myself how to live differently.  I've intentionally detached myself from situations and people that may cause me anxiety.  There's no way our heart and soul can be quiet and content if we're running in fifty directions dealing with this, that, and the other unnecessary thing. I've successfully reprogrammed myself to make and take time for me.  Even the Lord took a day of rest after working six.  His example should be a stern lesson from which we learn.  Why should we avoid enjoying simple pleasures because of silly man-made guilt?  Pleasure is as critical to our well-being as water is to flowers.  Give yourself space.  Enough space so you can spin and twirl freely if you wish.   Why make life harder than it needs to be.  

"We have grown literally afraid to be poor.  We despise anyone who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life.  If he does not join the general scramble and pant with the money-making street, we deem him spirtless and lacking in ambition."  -William James

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wild Morning Glory

The hedge bindweed, more affectionately called the wild morning glory, is growing in our roadside ditches.  When I zoomed in on these two white trumpet-like blossoms, a small white butterfly flit into my view and sat down on a leaf just in time to get in on the picture.  The little bugger blends in so well, it looks like a blossom itself.

The vines of this plant are known for binding and entwining.  A good share of the time they invade gardens where their heart-shaped leaves and pretty flowers twist and crawl until they become unwanted weeds.  For me, though, they are like the dandelions....sweet little souls that have a right to be here like the rest of us.

Looks to be another gorgeous pre-autumn day.  This past week whizzed by, and now we're into Sunday.  The crossword that's in our Sunday Paper is larger and more difficult than the puzzles in the daily.  It sounds silly, but I wait for Sunday simply to work the crossword!  When I don't know the answer, I either cheat or search the Internet.  It's a good test to tackle things that stretch our brains a bit.

We've been away from home a lot this week, so I promised the fuzzy one that this is 'her' day.  By that I mean that we won't go anywhere and leave her behind.  Her idea of a perfect day matches ours.  She's the first one to the front door when either of us suggests going for a late afternoon drive and stopping for Mickey-Dee's ice cream. 

Somewhere on the Internet I read that today is National Cherry Turnover Day.  It wouldn't be right if we didn't somehow honor this sweet holiday, so I will leave you with an easy way to make cherry turnovers.

1.  Take store-bought pie pastry dough, thaw and let come to room temperature.
2.  Dust working surface and rolling pin slightly with flour.
3.  Place pie pastry onto working surface, roll out a bit more if you can.
4.  With knife, cut pie pastry into four equal sections.
5.  Spoon only 2 Tablespoons of store-bought cherry pie filling into each section of pie pastry.
6.  Fold over.  With fork, seal edges by pressing down and crimping the dough.
7.  Put parchment paper on cookie sheet, to help release your baked turnovers.
8.  With a spatula, slide folded pie pastries over to the cookie sheet, leaving a couple inches between each turnover.
9.  With a knife, cut a few slashes across the turnovers to allow the steam to escape during baking.
10.  Place on middle rack of a 425-degree pre-heated oven, and bake for 15 minutes.
11.  Let cool before locking yourself in a closet and eating 'em all.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Tree and Tassels or Tassels and a Tree?

"I like trees because they seem
 more resigned to the way
they have to live
than other things do."

-Willa Cather, 1913

Friday, August 26, 2011

Easy and Smart Cupcakes

Nothing reminds me more of mom than chocolate cake baking in the oven!  Usually I don't bake cakes or desserts for just the three of us, but today's cupcakes are different.  Here's why.....

They are waist-friendly.  I took a box of chocolate Betty Crocker Super Moist cake mix, added a can of diet Sierra Mist soda, stirred it up like a regular cake, put it in paper cupcake cups, and baked them for 20 minutes. 

We couldn't wait to taste a warm cupcake, and it was over-the-top good.  Not only did I save 3 eggs and 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, but our arteries won't suffer with clogging cholesterol.  The reason I made cupcakes instead of a 9 x 13 cake is to limit the portion size.  My eyesight can get pretty skewed when it comes to cutting a piece of cake!

There's room here for lots of experimenting with different cake mixes and flavors of soda.  Strawberry and orange soda comes to mind with a white cake mix.  Top that with sugar-free pudding and fruit, and wouldn't that be a healthy dessert.  I wonder what diet root beer would taste like with a yellow cake mix?  Lots of combinations to play around with.

When I  see a place to save......whether it be money, time, or calories......I'm johnny on the spot.  It's the wise thing to do these days when prices are going higher and obesity is getting to be a national worry.

If anyone comes up with a really yummy cake-soda combo, please feel free to leave a comment for the rest of us!

On a totally unrelated subject, I'm adding a very special post-script to today's blog.  On July 12th I asked my readers to pray for our dear friend who suffered complications during surgery that left him in critical condition.  Thank you all for praying, because our prayers worked a miracle.  We are going to visit this guy and his wife at their home and even go for a special outing that we had planned prior to his surgery.  The doctors call him their "miracle patient," and maybe it was your prayer that turned the tide for him.  All I say is, thank you from my heart, because this friend is ever so special to us.  Life without him would be unthinkable.  God bless you all. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Northern Pike Y Bones

The guys had a good day out on the Mississippi yesterday.  Besides these three Northern, they had a lot of fun reeling in other pan fish, like bluegill, crappies, bass, and one of them even caught a dog fish.  Of course, they threw the dog fish back into the river, because it's a rough, inedible species. 

There are those who won't and don't eat Northerns because of their pesky bone structure.  Between their rib cage and the top of the back, there's an unusual series of bones, called the Y Bones.  These bones run from the gill area about 3/4ths the length of the fish to the tail.  My hubby, and other fishermen, have a slick way of removing these Y-bones.  To see how this is done, go to  When a Northern is properly de-boned and fried to a golden brown, it is one of the best tasting fresh-water fish in North America.

I came from a family of fishermen.  Grampa took me and my best buddy cousin to nearby rivers when we were little kids.  He'd tie long cane poles to the side of his car, and away we'd go!  Gramma would ride along and, because of her arthritic knees, would patiently wait in the car while we fished.  There was no room for sissies when we were around my maternal grampa.  He had us playing in the dirt, fishing, swinging from trees, hunting for frogs that gramma would fry for us, and he always told us we had to eat "this much" dirt if we wanted to be healthy.

That was what fishing was like in the 1950s, but today it's grown into a sophisticated sport.  When we go to a Cabela's Store, there are aisles of colorful bait, jigs and rigs, and lord only knows what all to tantalize the fish to the hook.  I'm so old-fashioned, it's embarrassing.  I just think fish want a worm or a wiggly night-crawler.....something with a little meat to it! 

It's been so darned hot this summer, we've not had our little boat out.  As soon as cooler weather gets here, I know we'll be hooking up and heading out.  A day on the river, or a lake, is enough to tucker the three of us out.  Even if the fish don't bite, a day on the water gives us fresh air.....the only natural energy booster.

I used to like fishing with a bobber, but I don't anymore.  It's more fun to hold my pole and feel the nibbles and bites, and that way I know just the right time to give my pole a jerk and reel in my catch. 

This time of year I get mighty itchy to head up north to the lakes.  Not a big lake, but one you can see across to the other side.  The big lakes are too choppy for our Misty Harbor. Yesterday while the guys were fishing, I spent time online looking for an affordable pet-friendly resort.  I'll be darned if I didn't find one. Now, all I have to do is coax the other two here to go.....and, just between you, me and the tree......that'll be an easy-peasy job for me!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Girls Day

A heaven-sent rain blessed us yesterday, and the crops are especially thankful.  The beans and corn fields were getting mighty thirsty.  Along with the rain came thunder and lightning.  Nothing feels as cozy as a dreary dark rainy morning when we can hunker down with a cup of coffee and stay indoors.  Cozy is one of my favorite words.

We delivered ten of my crocheted comfort crosses to the rest home.  It's so sad to see the quivering chins and watery eyes of the dear souls who reside there.  Both of our mothers spent their last few years at this facility, so we're acquainted with a few of the nurses.  You gotta love these angels, who still greet us with open arms and tight squeezes.  I warn 'em right upfront that when it comes my turn to move in there.....well, I intend to purposely pee in bed!  They laugh now, but.......

Other errands took us from one end of town to the other until finally we decided to eat supper out.  A popular pizza joint won the flip of the coin.  It was either pizza or Chinese.  Back in the '60s when we were dating, we could polish off one of their large pizzas, and I'm pleased to say nothing has changed.  Our waitress told us that during President Obama's stay in town last week, the Secret Service picked up one of their well-known pizzas to take to the President's hotel room down the street. 

Today the fuzzy one and I are having a girls day cuz the man of the house has gone fishing with one of his buddies.  Maybe I've mentioned this before, but when I was a little girl and the men of our family went fishing, mom would declare it girls day and that's when she and I would clean out the left-overs in the fridge.  We'd scoop them all together in a skillet, brown em up a bit, and then add scrambled eggs. Both of us smothered our Girls Day Hash with chopped raw onion and ketchup. To this day, that's probably my favorite thing in the world to to about 312 other things!

Memory baffles me.  Where and how are we able to carry our whole lifetimes around with us like we do? The older I get, I see myself thinking more and more about my childhood and all the fun stuff our little family of four did.  Most everything centered around farm work and going fishing, but still I have a silo full of warm fuzzy stuff that my head churns up for me to think about.  My brother and I had an old Model-A car that we tooled around our farm with, up and down the hills.  We took the back seat out so we could haul 10-gallon cans of water to the pigs in the pasture. By the time we got to the pigs, half the water spilled out from the bumps we bounced over.  My brother drove like a maniac, and I sat next to him proud as any little girl could be.  Ahhhhhh, my heart actually aches a dull ache when I think of how life built barriers between us.

Humidity has returned.  When it gets really humid outside, our windows get steamy and fogged over.  That's how they are this morning.  A good place for us girls will be in the air-conditioning, on the couch and next to the t.v.  And, for lunch, I just might go scrounge around in the refrigerator and see what needs to be recycled.  Who knows, history may just repeat itself!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Men Say the Darndest Things!

Two guys, one old and one young, are pushing their carts around Walmart when they collide.  The old guy says to the young guy, 'Sorry about that.  I'm looking for my wife, and I guess I wasn't paying attention to where I was going.' 

The young guy says, 'That's okay, it's a coincidence.  I'm looking for my wife, too.  I can't find her and I'm getting a little desperate.'

The old guy says, 'Well, maybe I can help you find her.  What does she look like?'

The young guy says 'Well, she's 27 years old, tall, with red hair, blue eyes, is buxom wearing no bra, long legs, and is wearing short shorts.  What does your wife look like?'

To which the old guy says, 'Doesn't matter......let's look for yours.'

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bejeweled Butterfly

This Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly landed as softly as a whisper on my Spirit Sister's host butterfly bush.  This nice nature moment was one I had to have, so I barefooted my way to the car for the camera.  Wouldn't you know it, by the time I returned to the outdoor patio, he was gone.  A minute didn't pass before he flitted back, I was camera-quick, and 'tah-dah' I captured his open wing span.  Isn't he precious?

Whenever I see a butterfly, I wonder if it isn't our answer to the big question of what happens to us when we die and leave our bodies behind.  Guess that's as good an answer as I've found so far.  I always wonder why that thought comes to me......and who's sending it!

On our drive home after dark last evening, we saw a deer standing along the road and an opossum scurrying across the highway.  What must it be like for creatures to run as fast as they can across a highway in the dark and see headlights coming closer and closer toward them.  Their little hearts must pound like jungle drums. 

My hubby left early this morning without me even knowing it, cuz there was a note on the kitchen island that read, "Good morning, girls!  Gone fishing."  Now that the weather has cooled down a bit, trout fishing has lifted itself higher on his to-do list.  He mentioned that he'd like to smoke a batch of trout one of these days. It usually doesn't take him long to bring home his limit of 5, so I expect to hear the back door open any second.

Before I go, I want to share this Butterfly Prayer ........

Bless me with the ability of a butterfly to endure the changes that will happen to me in my lifetime.  Help me to accept these changes with a positive and loving attitude.
Bless me with the beauty of a butterfly to allow me to reflect the colors of my soul, being and individuality, and to look for these things in others.
Bless me with the ability of a butterfly to create and instill the feeling of wonder, passion, and excitement toward all of your living creatures.
Bless me with the butterfly's ability to pollinate your flowers, so that I may cultivate your human garden with love and compassion.
Last, but not least, Lord,
Bless me with the grace of ascension, so that I may ascend into your glorious heaven like a rising butterfly, when my journey here on earth is complete.  Amen.
-Author M. Dilts

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Woolly Bear Caterpillars

Leaves are starting to fall off the trees, and the daylight hours are about two hours shorter.  Maple trees are showing tints of red, and the tops of the tall poplar trees are showing shades of yellow.

A Woolly
Has anyone seen the woolly bear caterpillars yet?  (I call them woollies.)  We usually see them crawling across the paved roads this time of year. Typically the furry bands at the ends of this caterpillar are black, and the band in the middle is brown or orange, giving it a distinctive striped appearance. 

Do woolly bear caterpillars really forecast winter weather?   According to the old-timers, the wider the middle brown or orange section of the woolly bear caterpillar, the milder the coming winter will be.  A narrow middle brown or orange section is said to predict a harsh winter.  In other words, more black than brown or orange, means a very harsh winter. Most scientists don't buy into this and discount it as only folklore, but I'd put my dollar on its reliability. 

Long before we had meteorologists and all of their sophisticated technology, people depended on the sky, animals and nature to forecast the weather.  My generation heard the old-timers repeatedly talking about their weather predictions.......

The higher the clouds,
the finer the weather.

Clear Moon,
frost soon.

When clouds appear like towers,
the Earth is refreshed by frequent showers.
(When white clouds look like cauliflower or castles in the sky,
there's probably lots of motion going on inside.)

Rainbow in the morning
gives you fair warning.
(A rainbow in the morning says that a shower is west of us
and we will probably get it.)

Ring around the moon?
Rain real soon.

Rain foretold, long last.
Short notice, soon will pass.
(If you are toting an umbrella cuz it looks like rain,
the rain will stick around for several hours when it finally comes.
If you get caught in a surprise shower, it more than likely will be short-lived.)

Red sky at night, sailors' delight.
Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.

If it hasn't rained in a long time
and it rains before seven a.m.,
it will be over by eleven a.m..

If three nights dewless there be,
'twill rain, you're sure to see.

The bushier the squirrel's tail,
the harsher the winter will be.

The first twelve days after Christmas will indicate what each month in the next year will be like.  A mild day the day after Christmas means that January will be mild.  A stormy day on the fourth day after Christmas means that April be stormy, and so on.

If it rains on Easter Sunday, it will rain on the next seven Sundays.

If it starts raining on the first day of the full moon,
it will keep raining until the moon quarters.

There will be nice weather
if you hear a screech owl.

There will be nice weather if smoke rises.

When crickets sing,
the temperature will get warmer.

If the first snow stays on the ground for three days,
another snow will come along to add to it.

A late frost indicates a rough winter is ahead.

When the dew is on the grass,
Rain will never come to pass.
When grass is dry at morning light,
Look for rain before the night.

The faster the crickets chirp,
the warmer the temperature.

Thick husks on corn in the late fall
are signs of a very cold and bitter winter.

In winter, the loud, clear sound of a train whistle to the south foretells a thaw.
The reason is that a shift in wind direction from north to south is thought to
bring warmer temperatures.

Turtles crossing roadways means a dry spell is on the way.
The turtles are seeking a place where water is plentiful to tide them over.

Cows huddled together in the corner of a field
means a storm is brewing.

The higher the muskrat's den,
the warmer and wetter the winter.

Flies clustered on windows and screens
means a cold front is on its way.

Signs of an early and rough winter ahead......
Big spider webs
Thick hickory nut shells
Squirrels suddenly quit eating nuts and start storing them
Thick bark on trees

Whether these be folklore or fact, at least they coax us to observe what's going on around us and give us ways to challenge the high-tech skills of today's meteorologists.  I don't know how others feel, but I've never been overly impressed with a forecast that tells me there's a 50% chance of rain tomorrow.

Ta-ta and keep your eye on the sky!  It just might be trying to tell us something. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Happy National Radio Day

I'm not aware of any festival or tradition that celebrates the radio.  Hmmmmm.  So, what are we supposed to do with the day?

Growing up, I remember the coral-colored rectangular plastic box that sat on the kitchen counter top.  It had a dial with gold numbers and two knobs with knob was to dial the station and the other was to turn up the volume or turn it off.  The radio was on a good share of the time, as my mom enjoyed listening to the radio while she worked in the kitchen.  That was back in the 1950s. 

Now in 2011, we don't have a radio in the house.  But, we do have Sirius Satellite Radio in the car.  We pay $165 a year for this.  It maybe sounds nuts to pay for radio, but Sirius is a neat feature on a vehicle and is no different than paying to watch television in our home with cable.  If you spend alot of time on the road, then it makes sense.

Most of the time we're tuned in to the '50s Rock and Roll Hits on Channel 05. We sing along and jive to the oldies, reliving the days in the 1957 Chevy listening to the same songs by the same artists, like Roy Orbison, Peggy March, Dion, Everly Brothers, and the rest of our teenage idols. When I'm in the car and behind the wheel alone, I'm apt to tune in to Family Comedy on Channel 105. Sometimes I find myself giggling at the silliness.  Humor governs my life, so anytime I can laugh.....well, I do.

What's nice about Sirius Radio is that it's 100% commercial-free listening.  None of that advertising or promoting of this, that, and the other ridiculous thing that only serves to annoy a person.  I'll gladly pay for cutting the crapola!

Satellite Sirius Radio offers about every genre of entertainment a person can wish to listen to while toddling down the roadways.  There's pop, there's rock, dance and electronic, hip-hop, country, Christian, jazz and blues, classical, sports, entertainment, family and health, religion, talk and news channels, and traffic and weather.

Why is it named Sirius?  Well, ...
  • Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky.  The name 'Sirius' is derived from the ancient Greek words for 'glowing' or 'scorcher.'
  • Sirius is known as the 'Dog Star' in the sky because of its prominence in its constellation Canis Major (Greater Dog).
  • The Romans believed that the added heat of Sirius, the Dog Star, caused the hottest days in summer....the dog days.
  • Sirius marked the flooding of the Nile in ancient Egypt.  For the Polynesians, Sirius marked winter and was an important star for navigating their way around the Pacific Ocean.  In Hawaii at the beginning of winter, the Hawaiians called the star of Sirius the 'Queen of Heaven.'
  •  In November of 1999, the name of North America's satellite radio company, Satellite CD Radio, Inc., was changed to Sirius Satellite Radio, and was named after 'the brightest star in the night sky.'
To show our respect for the radio on its special day, turn it on and choose a channel that entertains and informs.  That's what the radio is for!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mother Nature Speaks So We Can See

by Jessica S. Audet

Mother Nature
 spoke today.
I sat and listened to
 what she had to say.

Her words of wisdom were so strong.
Made me realize
I should do what's right,
never wrong.

The Earth's deep voice spoke aloud to me
Do not weep, young child, leave that to me.
For that, little one, is the job
of my weeping willow tree.

The wind's soft cry,
rang in my ears,
your love and beauty
 will go on for years.

Where you will go
others will follow,
Your thoughts are deep,
 never hollow.

The bird's sweet song
I needed to hear
Always go on,
live without fear.

For, one day
 you'll get to know
the wisdom and wonder
of the owl and crow.

The gentle smell of the flowers
gave me inspiration.
Made me see I need to go full out,
total dedication.

I need to show others
how I choose to be.
and by doing so,
I'll bring out the flower in me.

The mysterious waters
 of the ocean, so deep.
To believe is to feel,
To hold is to keep.

Little girl, one of many others.
Pass on your wisdom
to your sisters
and brothers.

The sun's powerful ways,
so fierce and strong
Brings everything together
in Mother Nature's beautiful song.

Everyone and everything in this world
plays its own part.
May my laughter and brightness of many years
find its special path to your wonderful heart.

Always go forth;
there is plenty to see
And if you need a light in your darkness,
Well, just leave that to me.

 Mother Nature

Thursday, August 18, 2011


There are two kinds of happenings in life......the ones that just happen without human intervention, and the others that we ourselves make happen. 

Last evening we three took a drive, with a couple of things in mind.  First one was trout fishing, and the second was to replace my jewelry pliers.  My husband fished, while I sat in the vehicle working on bracelets to sell at a craft show coming up in October. 

By the time hubby got skunked by the fishies, I had come up with a scheme to make something happen....our annual trek to a lonely apple tree that grows on public ground, to see if the apples were ripe enough to pick.  My paternal genes crave tart apples (the kind that make you pucker), and the branches of this tree usually hang to the ground with tart apples that no one picks.  These round gems simply fall to the ground and mulch themselves back into the earth.  We don't pick enough to actually use in pies or for freezing, but enough to satisfy my tart taste buds.

It's funny how a person has to modify our habits as we age.  Man, I used to be able to chomp down on an apple with no thought of breaking a tooth.  Well, I can call that history.  I asked my hubby if I could use his pocket knife to slice small pieces from the four apples that I ate right off the bat.  It doesn't bother me to use a knife, it only makes sense when I must find ways of coping with one of Mother Nature's happenings.

I'm of the belief that we ourselves are responsible for making things happen.  It's so wrong to wait for someone else to fulfill our desires.  The best way to get what we want is to go out there and get it.  I think there's a misconception that we're here to be catered to by others, as though life is one big dining experience.  If our desires are within reason, hey, make them happen.  There is not one of us who needs the burden of tippy-toeing around someone else's neediness.

There was a day when I thought that everything nice and fluffy would simply fall upon me, and sweep me off into the sky where I could flit and flounce at my whim.  Well, then I grew up and at some point it dawned on me that, hey, this is my life and if I want something, I'd better stop whimpering like a puppy, kick myself in the caboose, and make it happen myself.  I absolutely, positively, wholeheartedly refuse to die with a regret in my back pocket.

Some things take great effort on our part to make happen.  If we want to travel somewhere, well, that takes planning and preparation.  Plus, it takes money that needs to be saved up in order to go.  But, it's immensely satisfying to accomplish things on our own, without causing hardship for anyone else. 

Retirement is gifting us with a cherished companionship to make simple things happen together.  If we want to pick apples from a tree, then we'll go and pick them.  If we want to go trout fishing, we'll go.  Sometimes when we're on one of day-long jaunts, we mosey to a park and take a car-nap.  Car-naps are great fun.  We lay the seats back and snooze.  We make these sorts of little things happen, because they bring us good old-fashioned peace and joy.  We've paid our dues, we've done our time, and now we're on what we call playful parole. 

I used to be a little skittish about trying new things, because I was afraid of failure.  Looking back, I see now just how ungodly silly that was.  Who cares if we screw something up, it's the fun of trying to make something happen that counts.  There's more moxy in us than we realize, and the best thing we can do is dig deep in our well of talents and make some really good things happen. 

"It's not what's happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you become.  Rather, it's your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you're going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny."  -Anthony Robbins

May this day be just as beautiful as you.............ta-ta.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Versatile Zucchini

Here are a few fun tid-bits about those long green goddesses that are now gracing our gardens......

  • The word 'zucchini' comes from 'zucca' the Italian word for squash.
  • The culinary world treats the zucchini as a vegetable, but Botany treats it as an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower.  (still like em?????)
  • The female flower is a golden blossom on the end of each growing zucchini.  The male flower grows directly on the stem of the plant and is slightly smaller than the female.  These flowers are edible.
  • In Mexico, the zucchini flower is used for a soup and also in the traditional quesadillas.
  • Zucchini is eaten in a variety of ways.....raw, steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed, baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated into recipes, such as the souffle, soups and stews.  It is baked into bread or cakes.  The flowers can be stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura.
  • It is low in calories and has useful amounts of folate (or Vitamin B9), potassium, Vitamin A, and manganese.  The darker the zucchini, the greater the nutrients and minerals.
  • Zucchini is fat free, saturated fat free, cholesterol free and low in sodium.
  • One way to control over-abundance is to harvest the flowers. 
  • They require bees for pollination.  In places of pollinator decline or the high use of pesticides, the zucchini will start to grow and then dries or rots.
This Zucchini Casserole recipe made its way into my Favorite Recipe Book, cuz it's one that I can always depend on for being delish!

3/4 c. diced carrots        )
1/2 c. onion                   )  Saute
6 T. butter or margarine )
Add to 1 medium-sized zucchini, diced.
Add :  1/2 c. sour cream, 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup, and 2-1/2 cups seasoned croutons.  Bake 350 degrees for 40 min.

Mmmm Mmmm good!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Day at the State Fair

The first thing I did this morning was put 3 gel-cap Advils in my mouth and turn on the cold-water faucet.  Gel-caps get into the blood stream and start working in 15 minutes, while it takes 45 minutes for a regular hard pill to get to work.  After I walked what seemed like 5,000 miles yesterday at the state fair, my muscles and joints today are having some kind of protest.  Holy Martha, that's alot of walking...going from one attraction and building to the other, on a 285-acre area. 

We went down on a state fair bus line that transports people from all parts of the state to the state fair.  Taking the bus eliminated the driving, finding a place to park the car, and wear and tear on our vehicle.  We were early birds, so we chose the front seat on the right side of the bus, which gave us a wide open view of the countryside.  Plus, sitting shotgun like that made it easier for my husband to chat with the driver!

Our bus driver was a sociable 47-year-old guy, and he made sure we all had a safe and carefree drive. He brought his teenage daughter along with him. There's something reassuring about anything that hints of a close family. The two of them teased, and obviously she was her daddy's little girl. Of course, that's something that's super easy for me to recognize when I see it!

When we got to the fairgrounds at 10 a.m., the two of us oriented ourselves and chose a place to meet by the grandstand at 5 o'clock. We had our cell-phones along to touch base in between time.  We like going our separate ways at such events, simply because our interests don't necessarily match.  Where one of us would like to spend more time, well, maybe the other one doesn't.  It just makes more sense to toddle along solo.

Food on a stick is a popular state fair treat, and we each had a pork chop on a stick.  It was good, but all day I had meat stuck in my teeth and no toothpick.  Maybe I should have been more adventurous with my other food choices, but I simply had to satisfy my passion for real-squeezed lemonade and a root beer float.

So many strollers and so many miserable little kids at the fair.  Their faces beet red from the hot sun and their hair matted and sweaty wet.  One young mother carried a baby in her hands that couldn't have been more than two weeks old.  When and how did our maternal instincts change so much!

About 4 o'clock I began feeling drop-dead weary and called it quits.  The park bench in the shade felt mighty fine, and that's where I stayed until we rejoined forces at 5 o'clock.  I took off my crocks to be barefoot and did nothing else but watch the people.  We humans are a real bunch of bananas, you know that?  So many tattoos....covering entire upper arms.  I couldn't help but laugh at the gulf between me and them.........there I sat trying to hide the old-age spots on my skin, and there they were showing off their tats proud as peacocks.  But, heck, we go around this race track only once, so why not each do what we want.  If I was younger, I actually think I'd have a ring tattooed on my hand.  Oh, I could still have it done, but nah, not anymore. 

The best part of going to the state fair able to do absolutely nothing but rest my tuckered-out body.  The fuzzy one spent a long day alone here yesterday, but she welcomed us home in her bouncy happy way.  Such a dear.  My husband is still snoozing upstairs, so I'm thinking his body feels like mine.  There's a sweet solace in growing old together.  We know how the other feels, and we keep our medication in the same drawer!

What was my favorite thing at the fair?  I'd have to say the tiny horses and the miniature farmers who proudly paraded them before the judges. One little guy was all decked out in black, wearing a black cowboy hat, and his head came to the top of the little horse's head.  That was one of those unforgettable awwwwwwwwww moments!

Life is the darndest thing.  We take ourselves so seriously, yet when we get among huge crowds, we see that we're no more important than lint.  I've always thought it would be fun to sit on a cloud in the sky and look down at the people scurrying around like a bunch of ants on heroine.  Maybe the one thing I brought home with me from the fair is the awareness that I wouldn't change places with anyone.  If we're comfortable in our own skin and with the way we live our life, then that's as good as it's ever going to get.  And, when I get to feel like life isn't being fair to me, well, I'm simply going to make myself a root beer float, sit under a shade tree, and be content.  It's so simple. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

State Fair Humor

Freedom Flight
Charlie and his wife, Ruth, went to the state fair every year.  Every year Charlie would  say, "Ruth, I'd like to ride in that airplane."

Ruth would always  reply, "I know Charlie, but that airplane ride costs fifty dollars, and fifty dollars is fifty dollars."

One particular year Charlie and Ruth went to the fair, and Charlie said, "Ruth, I'm 85 years old.  If I don't ride that airplane I might never get another chance."

Ruth replied, "Charlie, that airplane ride costs fifty dollars, and fifty dollars is fifty dollars."

The airplane pilot overheard them and said, "Folks, I'll make you a deal.  I'll take you both up for a ride.  If you can stay quiet for the entire ride and not say one word, I won't charge you; but, if you say one word, it's fifty dollars."

Charlie and Ruth agreed and off they went. The pilot did all kinds of twists and turns and rolls and dives to try and earn his fifty dollars, but not a word was heard.  He did all his tricks over again, but still not a word.

When they landed, the pilot turned to Charlie and said, "That's amazing, I did everything I could think of to get you to yell out, but you didn't."

Charlie replied, "Well, I was gonna say something when Ruth fell out, but fifty dollars is fifty dollars."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Family That Stole My Heart

I couldn't stop the tears from running down my face as the cars drove off, one by one. 

Earlier in the week, we prayed for a beautiful day for my husband's family reunion.  But, what the Great Spirit calls a beautiful day and what we call a beautiful day are two totally different things.  Yes, it rained, but heaven sent us a very beautiful day.

As I sit here, on the morning after, I feel another swell of tears in back of my eyes.  The droplets of wonderful memories that are here to stay.  The tight hugs and the love.  The laughter and the sharing.  The commonalities.  The kitchen filled with food that each one put on the table....the foundation of the family that celebrates and suffers together.

Where we gathered for family pictures
We shared phone numbers and email addresses....the links that will keep us connected.  By mid-afternoon, the rain was replaced by blue skies and sunshine, just in time for each family to pose beside my special birch tree.  We did all we could to perpetuate the moments we were together, because it's inevitable that the day will come when giant craters will remain where each one stood.

So it is that I am blessed to belong to my husband's family.  I also learned a powerful lessson from this reunion.........what I pray for and what HE sends me might be two different things.   I must always expect to receive something far better than what I ask for!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What invention would you like to see in your lifetime?

Well, let's think about this a bit.  Hmmmmmm.  I'd have to say that I'd like to see a National Think Tank Website available to all of us legal American citizens where we could submit our suggestions for ways to fix the critical issues facing our free nation. 

Heaven knows we are inundated with economic and social dilemmas that Congress is struggling to solve.  We are all in this together, so I would think that we should all have a way to have our say.  Just maybe, bits and pieces of our collective ideas could be pieced together with amazing results.

Most of the time it's the little guy who's more grounded than the guy at the top, so it only makes sense that the little guy should have access to a National Think Tank Website.  Yup, that's the invention I'd like to see!

Friday, August 12, 2011


Man alive, we're swimming in vegetables right now.  Our kitchen cupboard has tomatoes lined up like soldiers, alongside the platoons of zucchini, cucumbers, and peppers......all patiently waiting to be eaten.  It's hard to imagine that already it's mid-August and our schools will be starting in another week.  Labor Day is around the corner, and autumn will be taking hold of the reins before we know it.

The time between two seasons, when the weather can't decide which season it wants to be, is a comforting hug of Hope.  I'm one who waits for the seasons to change.  I tire of the heat, and I tire of the cold.  I tire of wearing winter clothes, and I tire of wearing summer clothes.  I tire of the long days, and I tire of the short days.  Living where we do, I'm always looking forward to the seasonal switch-over next in line. 

Just as we have to adapt to the many changes that are always happening, this time of year we have to come up with new ways of using the vegetables waiting in line on our kitchen counters.  It's all about dealing with what we have before us at the moment.

Today we're making my Mom's Refrigerator Pickle recipe.  All you do is soak the sliced cucumbers in salt water for awhile.  Bring to a boil and let cool:  1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup vinegar.  Pour over sliced cucumbers and onions.  Refrigerate.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Making Lists

Did you ever stop to think how many to-do lists you've written?

Before the Christmas holidays especially, my lists of things to do could stretch from one side of town to the other.  From experience, I know that if I don't write it down, it won't get done.  And, this problem is getting to be the norm.  My comfort comes from knowing that my friends are experiencing the same thing.

About an hour ago I wrote out a grocery list for my husband, as he volunteered to drive to a town 13 miles away to pick up groceries.  Lord only knows how many grocery lists I've written out in my life. If I roughly figure one grocery list per week, since we've been married that would figure to be about 2,288 lists.  That's not counting the lists we made out on days in between when one of us needed to stop at the store for only a few items. 

We should not be embarrassed by having to make lists.  It's a sign of organized thinking.  Life in 2011 keeps distracting us with things like cell phones ringing or vibrating with text messages and phone calls.  Our brains can't stay on track when they're derailed by these interruptions.  There was a day when we did one thing at a time.  But, now we multi-task.  Right there we see a reason for reminders.

When we get together with our friends, we laugh when one of us is in the middle of telling a story when all of a sudden the story line vanishes.  There comes a pause......a long puzzling pause..........followed by...., "And, I have no idea what I was going to say......."  This brings laughter, because the rest of us know exactly what this feels like.

One of these days perhaps that unwanted dementia bug will stick his stinger into me, but I won't know it.  Others around me will.  The ball will be in my court, because the problem will be theirs.....not mine.  When this happens, I will start a new life of my own, filled with fantasies and visions that will belong only to me.  In a way, it becomes a whole new world, where the real-life hassles go away and we walk a few steps closer to heaven.

I'd write more, but I have no frickin' idea what I was going to write about.............

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Touch of the Master's Hand

It was battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it hardly worth his while
to waste much time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.

"What am I bid, good people," he cried.
"Who starts the bidding for me?"
"One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?"
"Two dollars, who makes it three?"

"Three dollars once, three dollars twice,
going for three."  But, No.
From the room far back a gray bearded man
came forward and picked up the bow.

Then wiping the dust from the
old violin and tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer
with a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, "What now am I bid for this old violin?"
As he held it aloft with its bow.

"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?"
"Two thousand once,
 three thousand twice,
Going and gone," said he.

The audience cheered, But some of them cried,
"We just don't understand."
"What changed its worth?"  Swift came the reply.
"The Touch of the Master's Hand."

And many a man with life out of tune
all battered and scarred with sin
Is auctioned cheap to a thankless world
Much like that old violin.

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.

But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Master's Hand.

        - by Myra Brooks Welch

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Gift Giving

Americans have a flair for gift giving.  Because of this so-called generosity, over time we accumulate so much stuff that we run out of places to put it.  Then we have little choice but to try selling some of it at garage sales, renting storage space, adding onto the house, or building outdoor storage sheds in the backyard. 

Now that we're coming up against another wobbly economy, maybe we ought to take a look at the kinds of gifts we are giving one another and what we are paying for them.  Especially if a family's household budget is tight, it's senseless to keep buying gifts that cause additional hardship on the checkbook balance.

Some practical gift ideas we might consider......
  • Home baked bread, with the recipe
  • Basket with cheese and fruit
  • Decorative napkins
  • Gardening gloves along with a packet of flower seeds
  • Pancake mix and a bottle of real maple syrup or blueberry syrup
  • Movie theater gift certificates
  • Note cards and book of stamps
  • Personal drawing or photograph in a frame
  • Muffin mix with muffin pan
  • Handwritten copies of your favorite recipes
  • Jig-saw puzzle
  • Homemade cookies
  • Package of pistachios
  • Magazine the recipient would enjoy.  Roll it up and tie it with a pretty ribbon.
It's all about maintaining smart style on one hand and being practical on the other.   

Monday, August 08, 2011

Backyard Tour

Tomatoes out of control
Our acre-lot has three tiers, with a shallow creek curlicuing its way through the bottom tier on toward the river only a few blocks away.  We live in town, but it feels like the country in our back yard. 

BLT time
Butternut squash hidden under the leaves

Peter Piper positively pondered the predicament
of precisely how many pickled peppers
Peter Piper could pick!

Smokehouse for homemade baloney in winter
Trellis for cucumbers in summer

Helping mine Daddy with yard work

The bird buffet

Home is where the heart is

Patio sparklies and danglies

Thanks for coming to our house!

So much splendor surrounds us.  Living in the Midwest has satisfying appeal for those of us who are prone to appreciate Mother Nature.  When we were younger, we were tied to our job responsibilities and the other survival responsibilities that go hand in hand with the rights we Americans are blessed to have within reach.  Now that we are older, our harvest from life doesn't only come from the ground.  It comes to us through our eyes and our hearts.  All that we worked so hard to achieve is now our final hurrah.  There have to be a lot of years of sweat and tears before any of us get to sit in the easy chair. 

Our home is our trophy.  It has only one bathroom, a front door and a back door.  The rooms are small compared to most.  But, they provide all we need, and they're paid for.  We make sure that these later years are punctuated with fun stuff, but before all else, we stop to appreciate.  That's a significant element missing from our society today.  There's a tendency for us to always want more, but at this time of financial hardship for so many in our country.....maybe it's time we tend to be grateful with what we have, get it all paid for, and then look to the future.  

It's my feeling that we all have to reach a certain age before life comes full circle and we understand these things.  I don't know, but it seems to me that's how it is.  All the warning signals that my mother gave me....well, I'm now watching them unfold.  It's not that generations are at odds with one another.  It's that the generations must co-exist, each owning their own accumulation of experiences.  Let's all try to honor one another, and maybe this country will regain its global prominence.  Every one of us Americans has a job to do now, so let's quit running around like we're on a race track.  Please pause and appreciate. 

Sunday, August 07, 2011

It is a sunny Sunday where I live, and I'm surrounded by shadows and splashes of various shades of green.  It's an ideal morning to ponder the things that I BELIEVE......
  • ...we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.
  • matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.
  • ...true friendship continues to grow even over the longest distances.  The same goes for true love.
  • can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.
  •'s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.
  • should always leave loved ones with loving words.  It may be the last time you see them.
  • ...we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.
  • ...either you control your attitude or it controls you.
  • ...regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place.
  • ...heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.
  • is a lousy way of keeping score.
  • best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.
  • ...sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down, will be the ones to help you get back up.
  • ...sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.
  • ...just because someone doesn't love you the way you want him or her to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all he or she has.
  • ...maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.
  • isn't always enough to be forgiven by others.  Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.
  • matter how bad your heart is broken, the world doesn't stop for your grief.
  • ...just because two people  argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other.  And, just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do.
  • shouldn't be eager to find out a secret.  It could change your life forever.
  • ...two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.
  • ...your life can be changed, in a matter of hours, by people who don't even know you.
  • ...even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.
  • ...credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.
  • ...the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.
(Author Anonymous)