Friday, September 30, 2011

What To Do With Used Coffee Grounds

  • Repair scratched furniture - mix 1 Tablespoon of coffee grounds with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Apply with a cotton ball and wipe dry. 
  • Double your harvest of carrot and radish - mix carrot and radish seeds liberally with coffee grounds, plant as usual.
  • Fertilizer - Coffee grounds are highly acidic.  Spread them generously over flower beds of acid-loving plants for amazing blooms.  Acid-loving plants include azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, lily of the valley, roses, and creeping phlox.
  • Ant repellent - sprinkle old grounds around the outside of your home to deter ants.
  • Garden cat repellent - mix used grounds with chopped orange peels and sprinkle liberally around your garden and flowerbeds to keep the kitties from using your garden as their restroom.
  • Treasure stones - Mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup used coffee grounds, 1/2 cup salt, and 1/4 cup sand together.  Slowly add water to make a stiff dough.  Knead on a floured surface till smooth.  Break dough into desired rock sizes.  Hide a small toy (plastic jewelry, erasers, balloons, wrapped candy, coins, or charms) in the center of a ball of dough.  Dry for 3 to 4 days.  When dry, the dough will look and feel like a rock.  Kids will get a real kick out of opening the rock with a hammer to find the hidden treasure inside.  Hide these treasure stones in your backyard and have the kids hunt for them at your child's birthday party.  
  • Homemade fossils - Stir together 1 cup of used coffee grounds, 1/2 cup of cold coffee, 1 cup of flour, and 1/2 cup of salt until well mixed.  Flatten dough onto waxed paper and use a can to cut circles out of the dough.  Press objects from Nature firmly into the dough and remove.  When you take the object out of the dough, you have a fossil.  Let the fossil dry overnight.  This is a neat way for children of any age to get familiar with Mother Nature. Kids come up with amazing ideas, and this is a perfect venue for experimentation.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Dream and A Wedding

I had the craziest dream last night. Someone asked me to babysit their baby.  There were obvious signs of a filled diaper, so I tackled the task.  I carefully cleaned the soft little butt and then reached for the baby powder.  After a couple shakes, I realized that I sprinkled the kid with paprika!

Earlier in the evening I'd watched a contestant on the Food Channel rub a Cornish game hen with paprika, and that's the only thing I can figure would cause such a goofy dream.

Strong northwest winds are starting to blow where I live, and gusts of 45-50 mph are expected between now and tonight.  The boulevard ash trees are losing their leaves in droves, and our lawn and front porch are mottled with yellows and browns. 

My Wedding Flower
Tomorrow will be our 44th Wedding Anniversary.  Neither of us can remember being scared or nervous before our wedding day, just incredibly excited. Our traditional hour-long Catholic ceremony started at 10:30 in the morning.  The Best Man, who wasn't used to the business of kneeling, fainted at the altar.  When the ushers saw him go down, they dutifully marched up the two steps, lifted and propped his body up, and helped him into the sacristy just as if it had been rehearsed.  My Maid-of-Honor leaned over and whispered in my left ear, "Thank God that wasn't me!"

At the reception, a personalized silk ribbon wrapped around a cigar was pinned on each guest's suit jacket or dress for a souvenir.  Two of my girlfriends opened all the wedding gifts for the guests to see, which was the custom back then.  I praise the newlyweds today who choose to open gifts themselves on a separate day and have the surprise and fun of seeing what's in those elegantly wrapped presents.  That was one part of our wedding that we wished had been different.

Brides these days are paying outrageous amounts of money for their wedding-day dresses.  In the thousands.  The price tag on mine was $125, and that was on the high side.  Personally, I feel that weddings have outgrown the middle-class wallet.

Back in the 1960's, couples didn't dare live together without being married, so the honeymoon was the trip of a lifetime.  We drove our red and black '62 Chevy Super Sport up into Canada, back down into Montana, through the Bad Lands, and visited the famous and impressive Mt. Rushmore.  When we came back home ten days later, there wasn't a leaf left on a tree.  We felt that the trees were starting a whole new stage of life right along with us.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

From My Observation Tower

Normal is getting dressed in clothes that we buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that we financed in order to get to the job we need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house we leave vacant all day so we can afford to live in it.

Don't listen to what people say.  Watch what they do.

Appreciate life even if it's not perfect. Happiness is not fulfillment of what we wish for, but an appreciation of what we have.

There comes a point in life when we get tired of chasing everyone and trying to fix everything, but it's not giving up.  It's realizing we don't need certain people and the drama they bring.

Saying someone is ugly doesn't make us any prettier.

Stop trying to fit in.  There is nothing worse than being ordinary.

We don't drown by falling in the water.  We drown by staying there.

Our life's story is the sum of our choices.

A laugh changes everything, at least for the moment.  That's because we can't feel two emotions at once.  One will always trump the other.  So we must do something that makes us laugh, or that makes others laugh.  Focus on and force the laughs.  It's a priceless gift.

I would rather be disliked for who I am than liked for what I'm not.

There are parts of a ship which, taken by themselves, would sink. The engine would sink.  The propeller would sink.  But, when the parts of the ship are built together, they float.  So, with the events of my life, some have been tragic, some have been happy, but when they are built together, they form a craft that floats and is going some place, and I am comforted.  ~Ralph Sockman

Sad?  Later we will be happy.  Crying?  Later we will smile.  Because for every action in life there's an opposite reaction.  So, hold on, things will be better soon.

Let's quit defining ourselves with who we once were.  BE WHO WE ARE TODAY!  Fully.  In this moment.  Independent of what others may or may not expect from us.

Relationships are never 50/50.  We can't always feel 50%, life is too unpredictable for that.  So, on the days we can only give 20%, the other must give 80%.  It's never been about balancing in the middle, it's about balancing where we need it most, and being willing to give more when the one we love can't help but give a little less.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wooden Boxes

Are you attracted to wooden boxes like I am?
They make perfect treasure chests for our keepsakes.  Should I happen to take the next taxi to Heaven, I can't help but be concerned what will happen to my endless collection of little things. 

Who will take care of my Sweet Pea kitchen fairy?  or the gray plastic mouse that the kids move from brick to brick on our fireplace?  Years back, hubby went to a job-related convention in Chicago, and he brought the mouse home for me.  (Not everything worth keeping has to be useful, you know! )

Every room in the house has a hand-carved wooden box on a shelf or in a drawer.  Each one is caretaker of stuff I would never dream of parting with...peculiar rocks and stones, feathers and fallen plumage, broken jewelry, coral and shells from the oceans, lucky pennies, and even two pine cone scales that I picked up from the Vatican lawn.  None of these things have monetary value, but not even Bill Gates could afford what they mean to me.

The small things we choose to keep along our way tell a story about who we are and where we've been.  They are souvenirs of times that are no more.  I think it's emotionally healthy for us to lift the lids on the boxes once in awhile and wake up the memories that are sleeping within. 

My search for, and love of, wooden boxes will hopefully never end.  Nor my search for souvenirs to inspire and please my soul.  And, it will be more than okay with me if my gravestone reads, "Little Things Meant A Lot."   

Gosh, I just wonder if our attorney would think I'm nuts if I'd ask to include Mr. Mouse in my will.  Hmmm......

Monday, September 26, 2011

Doggy Dental Day

When I was a little girl, my family's pet dogs lived outside and got little care.  It wasn't an option for them to live in the house with us.  Our long driveway made a perfect race track for the milk hauler, so it wasn't a matter of "if" our pet would get run over, it was a matter of "when" it would get run over.

Thinking back to those days, it's obvious that we weren't very kind to our most loyal comrades.  Now, the fuzzy one lives here with us. She is one of us.  Her feelings are our responsibility.  We buy special dietary food that comes at a high price, simply because her breed tends to suffer from allergies.  She is groomed on a regular basis, and her temperment is such that her veterinarian soundly sedates her during the grooming.  The short and sweet of it is that the two of us do nothing that doesn't involve her welfare first. 

Today she is going in to have her teeth cleaned.  We have to remember that our pets don't brush daily, so their plaque and tartar buildup is worse than ours.  Without good dental care, they can lose teeth, get abscesses, have bone loss, and get nasty infections that can enter their bloodstream and damage heart valves, liver, and kidneys.

Off and on we hear of a story where a dog saves a life or brokenheartedly lies beside his deceased master.  It almost breaks a person's heart to watch the extent of their loving loyalty.  One thing we can always be sure of.....if our last friend on earth turns their back on us, our fuzzy ones will still love us and loyally protect us.  We never have to worry. 

Great Spirit, please hold our canine companions in the palm of Your Hand, and please help us humans keep their teeth nice and clean.  Amen

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fate or Coincidence?

Last night my husband had a dream that spurred me to do some research about myself.

Saturday, October 20, 1945, was my first day alive.  On that day I was a one-cell creature already programmed with all the fixin's to be who I am today.  My gender, personality, physical features, and vulnerability to certain diseases were magically placed inside that one cell.

And, a little less than one month later, on November 10, 1945, my little heart pumped for the first time.  Is it fate or coincidence that my heart beat for the first time one day after my husband was born?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Another State Park Adventure

Aren't the apple trees bountiful this year?  So many apples will go to waste, and that troubles me. When growing up on the farm, we had a small apple orchard behind the hog house. I remember picking apples off the ground when my arms couldn't reach up high enough to get them off the tree. Mom filled her apron with apples and carried them back to the house to make us an apple pie for supper. My Daddy liked desserts, so our meals ended with sweetness. One of Daddy's pet names for me was Sweetness.  It was no secret that I was the apple of his eye!

Yesterday we dawdled our way down this State Park road. All four of our eyes were on vigilant, but unsuccessful, black bear watch.  Hubby caught glimpse of a deer crossing the road through his rear-view mirror, but it scampered back in the forest by the time my head spun around. 

Most every one of the last 44 years we have visited the Cathedrals of the North Country.  They say the tall pines whisper, but I say they breathe.  Helen Keller's lack of eyesight may have been what heightened her connection with Mother Nature and urged her to say,"To me, a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug."

Our drive turned into one of those 'end of the road' sandy trails.  The only reason we have a 4-wheel drive vehicle is for times exactly like this when we get ourselves into places and then don't know if we'll get back out.  Somehow I managed to get the car aerial in the photo, but it personalizes the moment and makes it our own. 

The sky's emotions are showing here, and the leaves have magically turned into a quilt of color  A poetic interpretation of splendor in the grass!

Hmmmm.....looks like our camera is one day off cuz these were taken yesterday, the 23rd, but show they were taken on the 22nd.  Better re-program the little bugger.

Speaking of the 23rd of September, Happy Anniversary to our dear Arkie friends (a day late).  We started dating at the same time in high school, we got married a week apart, and now the four of us can look back full circle.  Happiness always, you two. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Chinese Cookie

We're up real early, cuz we're off for a special day trip.  It's what we're calling one of our pre-anniversary celebrations.  Some people fly away to islands and other charming destinations or throw big parties to celebrate, but we rather go explore new places.

One of hubby's relatives passed away, so yesterday we attended the wake.  This gentleman was at our home for a family reunion only a few weeks ago.  Cancer was the cunning culprit that stole him away from his family.  Cancer, the beast that wears and ravages a body, devours and steals it, and then leaves jars and jars of tear drops in its tracks. 

On our way home, we suppered at a Chinese buffet.  Hubby's auntie went with us to the wake, and she had never eaten at one.  I'm like a little kid when the fortune cookies are brought to the table.  Hubby's fortune was the coolest of the three....."No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible."

Gotta go.  I'm hearing the conductor calling.....aaaaaaaaaaalllllll aboard!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Earth Angels

I feel the presence of angels
As I walk among my friends,
For each one serves a purpose
And on them I do depend.
They console and encourage me
When troubles seem to unfold.
their strength helps to carry me
When I need to be strong and bold.

You might not see their wings;
Yet they're always near to share
My happiness and my sorrows,
And I know how much they care.
I call them my Earth Angels
That are sent from God above
To share my earthly journey
And to fill me with their love.

~ Shirley Hile Powell

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Acrostic Poetry

Writing poems started for me in grade school when we wrote in autograph books.  They were simple poems, like, "Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you."  Some were silly, some were serious, but all of them were the beginnings of our choosing our own words to write with.

Acrostic poems may appear elementary, but they can be taken to any level.  1)  Pick a subject, any subject.  2)  Think of things that relate to that subject.  3)  Write the subject vertically on a piece of paper, one letter at a time.  4)  Write each line of the poem relating to your chosen subject.  An example .....



_________________________ T________________________

_________________________ U________________________




Our brains have fun playing around with words if we give them the chance.  Writing poems, for me, is simply a way to think deeper, and it's a great way to explore subjects that interest me.  Acrostics can be written using the name of a person and then writing a description of him/her.  Put the letters anywhere in the sentence, at the beginning or end, or in between like I did with this one of Autumn. 

Take a spiral notebook and write a poem each day, simple as it may be.  You'll impress yourself in one month when you go back and re-read them.  I'll betcha you'll say to yourself, "Did I really write that?"

"Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry."   ~ Muriel Rukeyser 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Nursing Home Eyes" by Todd-Michael St. Pierre

Look into my window,

Observe synthetic flowers

Swaying to a ceiling fan breeze,

And a wallflower, wheelchair-bound at that.

For hours I look out

I see concrete, undernourished shrubs,

Cars and bikes rush by

And they keep me company.

Faded draperies

Speak for years that have fallen behind me.

Suddenly a slave to nostalgia

and withered memories.

Do you see the photographs on my vanity?

Notice how they stare back at me

With abstract smiles for the elderly.

I know they are too busy.

Everyone has his own life to live.

I understand!

Hey . . . would you look into my world?

Share a thought?

I know you have no time to visit.

Yes, I am still here,

Alone, but alive.

That will be me someday.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dealing With Disappointment

Heaven only knows how many times disappointment slaps all of us in the face at some time or other.  I don't think it's possible to finish our earthly voyage without being disappointed.  When our expectations aren't met, we feel let down.  The mind has a self-sustaining way of feeling sorry for itself, easily distorts the whole scenario, puts more behind it than there actually is, the proverbial see-saw falls down on the side we are sitting, and the pity party begins.

When we feel let down, we have to discern whether we're disappointed in someone else or if we're disappointed in ourselves.  If it's the other person who has disappointed us, well, then that's easier to deal with. If, however, we disappoint ourselves, then there's work to be done.

The ancient philosopher Epictetus is trying to explain this to us when he said, "Man is not bothered by things that happen, but rather by his 'opinion' of things that happen." 

I've had a few recent people disappointments, and they ouched me.  But, if I take a good hard look at 'em, they are merely unmet echoes of my expectations.  This tells me only one level of standards is higher than theirs. 

So, how am I going to deal with my disappointments?

I say to myself over and over again,  "I FEEL disappointed by what ______ did or said, but I am completely 100% okay with myself."  This allows me to acknowledge my feelings, but it stops them from eating away at me. It's not easy to shift how we feel and think about something, but the hurt gets bigger and ouchier if we hang on to the things that hurt and ouch us. 

When stinging situations leave us feeling down and disappointed, we've got to always remember who it is that has the higher set of moral standards.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cyberspace Romance

A few years back, a young gal and her 8-year-old son moved into our neighborhood.  They joined a young man who was living solo.  I remember it was in the fall, because the little guy was rolling around in the leaves that had fallen on our lawn.  Hubby asked him one day where he was from.  "Alaska," he spouted.  Hubby asked him why he and his mother decided to move to our town. The look on the little guy's face was comically quizzical.  "Well, my mom went to '' and found us a boyfriend! 

The Internet has opened the dating scene up for us to find our soul mate anywhere on the planet.  Of course, I'm one who would be skeptical to believe and trust, but that's because my faith in humanity has been challenged throughout the years.  For the younger crowd, online dating is where it's at and how it's done. 

I'm not going to knock online romance, anymore than I would knock a face-to-face romance.  It's a whole lot easier to express ourselves to someone from the keyboard than actually being together.  There's a natural tendency to open up more, and to type things that we may not otherwise share about ourselves.  Maybe it's that very openness that is lacking in our old way of searching for the person who completes us.  Like everything else, though, we have to be smart and careful we don't get duped by deceptions that can mislead and misrepresent. 

Just is possible for us to reach across the ocean and touch some one's heart and for that person to reach back and touch ours.  How inconceivable is that.  My generation's way of dating obligated the frightened boy to ask the frightened girl out for a date.  After he asked her and she accepted, she got rattled and broke out in pimples worrying about what to wear, and both of them suffered their individual gender hangups.  Nervous and giddy would pretty much describe how I acted on a date back in the '60s. 

Cyberspace romance is the new way of finding love. And, very successfully sometimes.  In many ways it beats hanging around in a bar waiting for that hot dude to push himself through the swinging doors like Clint Eastwood did in the movies. 

While growing up, my life margins were tiny, but I gradually pushed them outward as I tried new things and went to new places.  When I think of my gramma, her margins really never got any bigger than the family farm.  It's where she had her babies, where she raised them, where she tended to her garden and her chickens and ducks and geese, and only once in awhile she went along with grampa to town. She wrote letters with pencil and paper to communicate with friends and relatives and waited weeks for an answer. That was only 50 years ago. 

No one will ever know how much I'd like to have my gramma's email address in Heaven.  I'd tell her about all the neat things going on down here now.  She'd love to know what my home is like, who I married, and all about me. Most of all, she'd be amazed by the modern way her great grand-children stay in touch with their friends and can meet new ones. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

National Apple Dumpling Day!

We have the Pennsylvania Amish to thank for the Apple Dumpling. 

The recipe is simple.  Take an unbaked pie shell, cut it into two sections.  Roll each section into a circle large enough to cover an apple.  Peel and core the apples and put an apple in the middle of each pie crust dough circle.  Mix 4 tsp cinnamon and 4 T sugar (according to your taste preferences).  Fill the core area of each apple with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Carefully wrap the dough around and over each apple. Brush the tops with an egg-water mixture, and sprinkle with a little more sugar and cinnamon, if you want.  Bake at 350 for one hour.  Serve warm, and if you want to kick it over the fence, just add a scoop of ice cream!

There are tons more recipes for the apple dumpling online, many are baked in oozy-goozy brown sugar and butter sauces.  This recipe is the basic, no-frills, less-calories version, especially when made with a sugar substitute.  The sky's the limit for fancying up this old-fashioned comfort dessert!

"Surely the apple is the noblest of fruits."  ~ Henry David Thoreau 


Friday, September 16, 2011

Aliens Stole My Blog

Oh, dear.  Trouble in cyberspace.  The sneaky aliens that govern the World of Blog reached in, grabbed, and ran away with the blog I just spent two hours writing.  Another fine example of how crap happens.  Nothing I can do about it, except trek on and hope for a better tomorrow.

The least I can do is share the pictures we took yesterday on a late-afternoon drive......

Me, Thee and the Tree

Thursday, September 15, 2011

First Frost

Meteorologists put our area under a frost advisory last night, and they were right.  The frost fairies left proof that they were dancing on the rooftops while we were sound asleep.  According to the morning paper, ours wasn't a killing frost.  In order for it to be a killing frost, there has to be a 23- or 24- degree freeze that lasts 4 to 6 hours and ends the growing season.  Ragweeds and other pollens usually disappear with a light frost, but the outdoor mold that brings on most allergic reactions will require a hard freeze before they go away.

Hubby gathered what's left of our garden produce.  Our neighbors were doing the same and shared their over-abundance of tomatoes with us.  Hubby is cooking up salsa now to put in the freezer.  I am hearing his knife chopping up the peppers, and the house smells like the good old days.

We couldn't resist BLT's for supper last evening.  Thick slices of juicy red tomatoes, salty bacon fried to a crisp, and a swoosh of mayo on multi-grain bread toasted to a light crunchy brown. For me, a sandwich isn't a sandwich without a generous slice of sweet onion!
Hubby's family grew up putting sugar on their tomatoes, and my family passed the salt and pepper shakers around the table to sprinkle on ours.  Funny how we all tend to forever favor the tastes and foods that we grew up eating.  Simple preferences like that reflect the unbreakable family bond.

So it is that another season is anxiously waiting behind the curtain to step on stage and present us with pumpkins for our doorsteps and gourds for our tables. Oranges and rusts and golds and browns take over where the reds and pinks and lavenders left off.  Summer has grown weary, and fall is wide awake and ready to take its place.  Another of Nature's orderly and silently sophisticated relay races.

"In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there.  To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe.  I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels."  ~Dodinsky

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


All of us get upset and fret with every-day botherations, for instance........
  • When saran wrap tears on the roll
  • Stubbing a toe
  • Buzzing mosquitoes and bees
  • Paper cuts
  • Burnt toast
  • Breaking a fingernail
  • No cable service
  • Magazine subscription ads that fall out . These 3x5 cards are called "blow-ins" because in the magazine manufacturing process these cards are typically blown into the magazine, between the pages, one at a time. 
  • The "bind-in" cards that are bound into a magazine.  These have perforated edges for easy tearing.  The first thing I do before reading any magazine is yank em out and delicately ram em into the waste basket. 
  • Kinks in the water hose
  • Christmas tree lights that work before they're put on the tree, but fail to work after
  • Modern packaging that's nearly impossible to open without a buzz saw 
  • Inefficient customer service.  Once upon a time we were able to call a company and talk to a human being.  Well, an automated voice has taken the place of the human voice.  It gives us instructions to press 1 for this, press 2 for that, press 3 if we didn't understand the menu, or press 4 if we'd like to talk to a company rep.  We, the customer, have no chance to question this phantom voice.  We either do as we're told, or hang up.  Is our new-age society actually evolving or are we de-volving? 
  • Customer service people who say they can't help us, and they transfer us to someone who can.  This second support person either never answers, takes a long time to answer, or it ends up they can't help us which case they transfer us to a third person or refer us back to the person we spoke to in the first place.  And, let's not forget about the times we get disconnected and have to start from square one.
Egads, I'm getting bothered just thinking about the things that bother me.  I could go on and on and on, but as Robert Service so wisely tells us, "Be master of your petty annoyances and conserve your energies for the big, worthwhile things.  It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out - it's the grain of sand in your shoe."  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Harvest Moon

Hasn't the Harvest Moon been magnificent the last few nights?

We spent yesterday running a long list of errands.  Had lunch at a Chinese buffet, and that's probably the last place we should have eaten.  But, what the heck, doing something naughty once in awhile just plain feels good.  My fortune cookie read, "All of the water in the world can't sink a ship, unless it gets in."  It never ceases to baffle me how fortune cookies give us the advice we need to hear at the right time.  We then mosied our way back home, put our purchases away, and took a power nap to re-energize ourselves for a venture to the trout stream. 
The fuzzy one and I stayed in the car while hubby caught two rainbow and one brown.  I took along with me the book, "Room" written by the Irish author, Emma Donoghue.  It's the story of a boy born and raised with his captive mother in a 12-foot square room.  "Room" is uniquely narrated by this five-year-old boy, Jack.  Room is the only place he has ever known.  For his mother, it's been her prison since she was abducted by Old Nick seven years prior. 

The month of September is slipping away, and October is right around the corner.   The pansies in my pansy wagon are starting to look out of place.  Times chugs right along, and change chugs with it.  Nothing too exciting going on in our world.  Ordinary days are good days.  They come and they go, but each one leaves a bit of its magic and a bit of its mystery behind.

Have you noticed how the blackbirds are forming what looks like long kite tails in the sky?  The mighty marvel of migration is once again about to begin.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Confucius Say.....

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Billy Graham Prays for America

"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance.  We know your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done.  We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.  We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.  We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.  We have killed our unborn and called it choice.  We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem.  We have abused power and called it politics.  We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.  We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.  We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.  Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.  Amen."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Challenge to Use What We Have

Getting ready for the craft show has been work, naturally, but we made a shake-hands deal to use only stuff  we have around here at home to make up our displays.  There were times we had to scratch our heads and times we had to put our heads together, but I'll be darned if we didn't do what we set out to do.   We rummaged the forgotten corners of the garage and closets to complete our ideas.  Nary a penny did we spend!

It's amazing how we have a mindset to always go out and buy, buy, buy.  This was a good challenge for us to use what's here instead of adding more stuff to the proverbial pile.  Feels good.  Every item taken out of a home only serves to lessen the burden, anyway that's how it is for us.

Hubby has an artistic eye that serves me very well.  Actually, we complement each other.  One is better at this, and the other is better at that.  Put "this and that" together, and it works.  Sometimes we humans tend to get snarly when someone offers us a different opinion or a fresh idea, but we're not that way.  We figure everyone benefits if everyone taps their resources. 

I'm getting the "hurry up" signals.  Best get myself launched and see what the day brings.  All we're looking for is good fun, meeting new people, and maybe selling a thing or two.  If we don't, that's okay.  We get so attached to the things we make, it's kinda hard for us to part with 'em.  There I go again, being that sentimental sally.

Be happy, walk straight and stay between the lines.  Here's a bouquet of cyber-daisies just for you........

Friday, September 09, 2011

Craft Show Season

Both of us need to push our minutes today if we're going to get our craft displays and craft items packed before we go to bed tonight.  It's craft show season, and tomorrow morning we're hopping on board the craft show wagon.

Hubby will be selling his carved Wood Spirit walking sticks, wooden personalized key chains, and personalized hammers. He scroll-saws names in wooden hammer handles. They are way cool and make neat gifts for both men and women.   I'll be selling one style of the pop-tab bracelets that I weave together with metallic cord.  My bracelets are fun, funky, and eco-friendly, and I have an absolute blast making them.

This is exactly what I mean when I try to explain to people what we do with our retirement.  For some reason, my generation feels it must work until the coffin is nailed shut.  My generation forgets that retirement is the time to 'let go' and 'get going.'  For over 40 years, I sat behind a desk, wishing for the day when I would be at home, able to do any one of a thousand things. Thank you, Great Spirit, for giving me this time to find the talents you put inside me when I was still in mommy's tummy. 

The fact that we are given a life in the first place is an astonishing miracle.  Scientists estimate the probability of our being born at about one in 400 trillion.  A Buddhist version of this probability is this:  Imagine there was one life preserver thrown somewhere in some ocean, with exactly one turtle in all of these oceans, swimming underwater somewhere.  The probability that we were born is the same as that turtle sticking its head out of the water--into the middle of that life preserver....on one try.

Scientists take it another step.  The total area of oceans in the world is 131.6 million square miles.  The area inside the life preserver is about 0.5 square meter.  Then the probability of Mr. Turtle sticking his head out of that life preserver is simply the area inside the life preserver divided by the total area of all oceans, or about 1 in 700 trillion.

Migod, people, if we are THAT fortunate to be here, just think how lucky we are to reach retirement age.  We came full circle, we're back in kindergarten, and it's time to play and make things!

We both need to have business cards available on our craft table with our names and phone numbers, so today that's my project.  Instead of having them made professionally, I'll make my own.  They won't be fancy, but then again, I'm not fancy.  The weather is forecast to be autumn gorgeous this weekend, so this will be a perfect chance for us to clean out our lungs with crisp clean air and watch the people walking the festival grounds.

People-watching can be inspirational.  It reminds us how unique each of us is.  From making my bracelets, I've learned that there is no valid formula to the sizes of our wrists and hands.  What will fit my hand, may not fit the next gal's.  Some small women have big hands, and some sturdy women have small hands.  Hands are hands.

In earlier times, Grecian soldiers wore bands of leather, decorated with gold, silver, and other gemstones, on their forearms.  They were called Bracels, from the Latin word for arm, 'Brachium.'  The Grecian women thought that these accessories would look nice on them, so they started wearing smaller versions of these bands, called 'Bracel-ets.' 

Bracelets can be made out of just about any material, and mine are a perfect example of that.  The gypsy in me loves jewelry, so it comes as no surprise that my craft show table will feature baskets of them.

Since I retired in 2006, I have gotten to know my gypsy self like never before.  My secret?  It's the quiet time spent away from the commotion......the only time our petals unfold and our blossom opens up so the whole world can see who we really are.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Certified Nurses Assistants

Today I take my hat off to a forgotten, yet critical, sector of our society.....our Certified Nurses Assistants who are working in hospitals and nursing homes.  These gals and guys rank high on the ladder of human compassion, and they dedicate their days to helping others.  Honestly, how can any one of us not honor them for standing on alert like an army, ready to care for us when we get sick or when we grow old.

This poem was written by a gal who had just gotten home after working a long shift at a nursing/rehab facility.....


Who are you to refer to us
As "only" a CNA?

We're the ones who wash and dress
our patients for the day.

We're the ones who take the time
to listen to them speak.

We listen about their lifetime,
In a forty-hour week.

We also give our hands to hold
When someone's feeling scared.

It's not easy being a patient,
You're never quite prepared.

We take the time to listen,
By lending both our ears.

We listen to their worries,
Or how they've spent their years.

Our arms were made to reach,
And even wrap around.

To give our patients hugs,
When they're feeling a little down.

We help our patients do the things
they used to do on their own.

Everybody needs some help,
Even when we're grown.

So, who are you to refer to us,
As "only" a CNA?

We do our best to meet their needs,
Within our working day.

We chose to do this job,
The job did not choose us.

We sympathize and empathize,
Compassion is a must.

We try to keep them comfortable,
And free of any fear.

We sit along beside them,
When their time is near.

We hold their hand, stroke their hair,
Just making sure they know.

They are not alone, an aide is there,
It's okay for them to go.

To all the CNA's,
Keep your head held high.

We're not "only" CNA's.

~by Dawn Mazzola

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

An Unforgettable Day

Our front porch thinks it's pretty spiffy this morning, as it struts this gorgeous  flowering plant.  I am blowing a loving kiss to the special gal who sat it there!

Yesterday will always remain woven in my heart.......

Rags and looms
Warp and weft
Left over right
Right over left.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

My Autumn

If life be compared to the four seasons, then I'm in my Autumn, unless a meteorite unexpectedly falls on my head.  If I were asked which season has been my favorite, it would be this, my Autumn.  Having reached this season has freed my spirit from the ball-and-chain devotion to occupational bondage, and now I'm able to spend my days doing what I want, instead of what I must.  The days of having to prove myself are over.  Having said that, the Spring and Summer seasons of my life were more than I wished for as a little girl.  My life has been anointed with countless graces.

These quotations about Autumn give reverence to, and reflect, my deeply-rooted spiritual respect for Nature......
"Youth is like spring, an over-praised season more remarkable for biting winds than genial breezes.  Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits."  ~Samuel Butler

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."  ~George Eliot

"Falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly"  ~John Bailey

"Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance.  Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence.  Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance."  ~Yoko Ono

"If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection.  It's a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year, and it's time to reflect on what's come before."  ~Mitchell Burgess

"A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made.  The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air."~Eric Sloane

"Fiery colors begin their yearly conquest of the hills, propelled by the autumn winds.  Fall is the artist." ~Takayuki Ikkaku

"Clouds of insects danced and buzzed in the golden autumn light, and the air was full of the piping of the song-birds.  Long, glinting dragonflies shot across the path, or hung tremulous with gauzy wings and gleaming bodies."  ~Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"I've never known anyone yet who doesn't suffer a certain restlessness when autumn rolls around.  We're all eight years old again and anything is possible."  ~Sue Grafton

"The lands are lit with all the autumn blaze of golden-rod, and everywhere the purple asters nod and bend and wave and flit." ~Helen Hunt

"God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying, "Ahhhh!"  ~Joseph Campbell

Monday, September 05, 2011

Ketchup or Catsup?

The convenience store kitty-korner from our house has "free tomatoes" on their counter.  A farmer with an over-abundance brought 'em to town to give away to the locals.  There's an avalanche of tomatoes this year, and everybody we talk to is either busy canning spicy salsas, spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, or homemade ketchup.

Mom used to make the best homemade ketchup in the world, and it's the one recipe she didn't leave behind for me.  That's cuz she never would have imagined me getting that domestic. Others in my family have it, so I've asked that they share it with me.  There are certain tastes, flavors, and aromas from Mom's kitchen that stay with us always.   Mom's ketchup is one.

My family is crazy about ketchup, homemade or store bought.  When we gather for meals, the first thing we set on the table is a big bottle of ketchup. 

Speaking of garden stuff, Mother Nature has cleverly placed a yellow flower and hung a pear-shaped decoration on our smokehouse in the backyard.  Yup, a butternut squash dangles from its vine, adding a simple and sweet charm to an otherwise ever-so-humble-looking structure.

Small-town life has its occasional petty annoyances, but there's nothing like free tomatoes and one smokehouse squash to keep us grounded and thankful for what we have.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

"Think Not I Am What I Appear" by Lord Byron

Our calm household quickly turned into chaos last night.

Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Baby Bear were in our usual evening cuddle-down spots when Papa Bear yelled, "There's a blankety-blank-blank bat in here!!!!!"  Right then, this vulture-looking thing flew toward my head, veered over to Papa's, out of the den and into the living room, and kept repeating this flight pattern.

Lucky thing our one-man rescue squad was on hand, or the chaos might have mushroomed into a terror situation.  His choice weapon was a terry cloth towel that he started switching and swatting and missing his moving target.  The faster the swat, the faster the bat flew.  From where I sat, the comedy element was wild.  A grown man, in his boxers, fighting to save his ladies from a killer bat, and Baby Bear absolutely frozen with fright.  I couldn't have paid for better entertainment.

A couple of hours later when my head hit the pillow, a silly thought kept me do bats mate?  Do they lay eggs like birds? I'd never heard of bat eggs.

Well, first thing this morning I browsed the web to see what I could find.  What I came up with was a whole bunch of bat facts........

  • Bats are warm blooded, they nurse their babies with milk, and have fur.  
  • Bats have a thumb and four fingers, just like people.
  • They use their wings for more than flying.  They can wrap their wings around insects or fruit to hold it while eating.
  • There are about 1,000 different species of bats. 
  • Scientists have found evidence that bats have been around for 50 million years, if not longer.  Fossils from back then look very much like the skeletons of bats today.
  • Bats eat at night and spend their days sleeping in caves or in tree tops.  They are very social and usually sleep together in large groups.
  • Baby bats are called 'pups.'
  • Bats spend a lot of time hanging upside down, and this is called roosting. Hanging like that puts them in a good position for takeoff, because bats can't launch themselves into the air from the ground.  Their wings don't produce enough lift to take off from a dead stop, and their hind legs are so small and underdeveloped they can't run to build up enough speed to take off.
  • Bats smell, hear, taste, feel, and see just like people do.
  • Bats can live for 20-30 years.
  • They mate and give birth once a year, usually to a single young.  Twins and triplets have been known, but are pretty rare. 
  • Bat births take place in their usual hanging position, but the female is able to create a pouch with her tail membrane to catch her baby as it emerges. The umbilical cord can also act as a sort of maternal bungee cord to prevent the tiny newborn bat from falling to the ground.  (This answers my question!)
  • Each night bats consume huge numbers of insects, many that otherwise would attack farm crops.
  • Bats eat mosquitoes, carriers of malaria.
  • If it were not for bats, the harvest of tropical fruit, such as bananas and pineapples, would decrease by 60%.
  • A single small brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in an hour.
  • Only three species of bats, all living in Latin America, are vampires.  They do feed on blood, but they lap it like kittens rather than sucking it up as the horror movies suggest.  Even the vampire bat is useful to us enzyme in their saliva is among the most potent blood-clot dissolvers known and is used to treat human stroke victims.
  • Bats are vital pollinators for our plant kingdom.  
  • Except for the extreme desert and polar regions, bats have lived in almost every habitat on Earth since the dinosaurs were here.
  • Bats have long played an essential role in Mother Nature's system of checks and balances.  Their loss today could adversely affect the health and stability of our environment and life as we know it.
  • Cold winters force bats to migrate or hibernate to caves or abandoned mines where they stay for up to six months, surviving only on stored fat reserves.  How they find their way over the long distances remains largely a mystery.  It appears that visual things like mountain ranges and other landmarks guide them.  Their valued information about how to find small cave entrances and other obscure sights appears to be passed on from generation to generation.
  • Bats are more closely related to humans than they are to mice and rats.  The structure of a bat's wing resembles the structure of the human arm.
  • Researchers have seen cases where a bat is ill and isn't able to hunt for its own food.  Other bats from the colony will bring food back for it.  Scientists really don't understand the dynamics of bat colonies yet, but they are definitely complex, tight-knit social communities.
  • Bat poop, called guano, is the highest quality natural fertilizer. It contains more nitrogen and phosphate than any other natural or artificial fertilizers. 
  • Bats flying over your head are not trying to attack you, and they don't really want to get tangled up in your hair.  When they feel trapped, like the one in our house last night, they are frightened and are only trying to free themselves. 
  • The use of chemicals in pesticides has depleted the number of insects for bats to feed on, and these chemicals also harm the bats themselves.
  • Places that the bats like to roost in are being destroyed to make way for human structures and roadways.
  • Bats need our help.  We are scared of them because of the way they've been represented to us in movies and on t.v.  This is making it hard for bats to get the help they need to survive.   
Like everything else......we fear that which we don't understand.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Let's Pretend.....

This is it, kids, the last 3-day weekend of summer! 

When the fuzzy one and I got up this morning, I filled my coffee cup and we walked outside to see the hubby in his shop.  The water puddles felt ooooooh sooooooo good as I squished my bare feet down in them.  The fuzzy one is just like me and follow me through the puddles she did.

Today is Saturday, the day we pick up the sticks around the house.  Nothing in the world interests me less than housework.  There are those women who actually enjoy cleaning their homes, but I'm not one of them and won't pretend that I am.  If we had oodles of money, there's nothing I wouldn't hire done for me. 

I always say that I have more hobbies than good sense.  Maybe that's why I only want to putz with crochet projects, weaving projects, jewelry-making projects, acrylic-painting projects, stone-painting projects, writing projects, reading projects, and computer projects.  Sometimes I get so bogged down with projects, that I freeze up and don't do anything.  It reminds me of flooding a car and then it doesn't start.

 Do little kids these days still pretend?  Pretending was spectacular fun when we were little.  We pretended to be cowboys, priests, nuns, cops, robbers, kings, queens, doctors, patients, anything we could think of.  When my boy cousin and I played doctor, we would take an old china cup of water and a teaspoon.  The one of us that was the patient would go to bed, cover up with blankets, and the other would spoon-feed the water as we pretended it was medicine.  We made sticks into weapons and chased each other around the yard, we put bandanas over our faces and pretended to be stagecoach robbers.  Our horses were invisible, but we trotted around with our hands holding invisible reins, galloping after each other.  We'd chase each other through pretend canyons, drive our pretend horses through groves of trees, set up camp, build a pretend fire, cook kettles of pretend beans, eat them with pretend forks, and then sprawl ourselves on the ground, lay our heads on our pretend saddles, and take our afternoon nap.  Most of these pretend scenarios took place at gramma and grampa's house.  They let us go off by ourselves, and they encouraged our adventures so long as we didn't get hurt.

My head spins with stories of pretend.  Guess maybe pretending is part of life.  When we're out and about in public, we pretend to be at our best.  Then when we get back home, we shed our threads (the first thing I do is take off my bra and fling it across the room) and resume being our plain old selves.  We relax the politeness, we scratch when it itches, we dance with the broom and sing in the soup ladle.   

If I could be one thing in the whole wide world, I'd like to be a mouse.  I'd hide in houses where the hoity toidies live so I could see what they do when no one else is around.  Isn't that just awful of me?

Friday, September 02, 2011

Delight in Yourself

Do you sometimes feel that you're too hard on yourself?  I do. 

We get frustrated with our humanness.  But......we are human.  Why is it so easy for us to embrace negative judgment of ourselves the way we do?  We act as though there is something wrong with being human. 

There is nothing wrong with us, except our perceptions of ourselves.  How can we take a more accurate look at our amazing selves and be grateful for every blemish that we can call our own?  How can we once and for all stop looking for someone else in the mirror to look back at us? How do we surrender to being human and quit being dissatisfied with how we look, what we do, and how we stand up to what is expected of us?

Now that I'm older, I find that I no longer am fighting to change myself, but rather am getting to know myself.  My mind has spent many a warring hour questioning my appearance, my education and location in life.  Then, one day out of nowhere I decided that, hey, I am me.  I quit the drama of trying to make myself into something that I was not.   

When we make our first scream at birth, life starts to happen. We grow to think that life happens "to" us, but it doesn't.  Life just happens.  It's our perception that makes it difficult to take what comes to us and accept what doesn't.

Psychologists say we should enhance our good physical attributes. Choose one thing and have fun with it.  If you have cute feet, then get your toenails painted, wear toe rings and sandals.  If you have sweet hands, doll up your wrists and fingers.  If your hair is thick and gorgeous, then play with all sorts of styles that will boost your self-esteem.  Learn to love yourself a little bit at a time.

I think we're all a little ornery about taking advice, but I do know that my life would have been a whole lot more carefree if I would have had the good sense to take myself as I was and not struggled to be more.

"People are like stained-glass windows. 
They sparkle and shine when the sun is out,
but when the darkness sets in
their true beauty is revealed
only if there is light from within." 
 ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross 

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Is Global Warming for Real?

Holy hell, it's the 1st day of September and the forecast is for temperatures up to 100 degrees today where I live.

Like Ronald Reagan said, "When you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat."