Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Old Bridges

I'm sitting here this morning, curious about the prehistoric engineers who made the first bridge.  More than likely, they got the idea from Mother Nature.  She dropped a big old tree across some kind of a gap, and the bridge was born.

Our small town hosts a river and a creek.  We host three new bridges, one on the north side, one on the south side, and one on the east.  We cross one or more of them every day when we leave town and when we return home. 

A few old bridges remain in our area, and their stately styles stand tall and proud.  They know their antiquated charm and strength.  The burden they carry in their old age is nothing less than admirable.  This particular bridge was built in 1892, is located in a small village, and we've driven over it uncountable times over the years.  It wears its decorative iron cresting like a welcoming smile.

Sad to say, a time will come when a modern-day architect and engineer will knock their heads together and declare this bridge outdated and no longer useful.  It's beauty won't matter anymore.  A set of blueprints will determine what type of concrete plan will take its place.

Like it or not, we all must face the constant change and progression from one generation to the next.  As we do, let's at least pay due honor to the structures that let us peek into the past.  Perpetuate them by taking pictures, cross them with dignity, and stop to take a really good look at them.  They might be made of iron, but it sort of feels like beautiful souls were somehow spiritually built in them.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Choosing a New Doctor

This past year both our dentist and optometrist retired, leaving us stranded and abandoned.  If that wasn't bad enough, a newspaper article a couple weeks ago announced that our family physician is moving away. 

Yesterday we introduced ourselves to the guy who will step into his big shoes at the same clinic.  Our new doctor is 30, and, if I do my math correctly, he could be our grandson.  His smile lights up a room, and if I were on my death bed, I think there could be another biblical miracle.  How fortunate we are that young men like this are born with the desire to help others in such a profound way.

His philosophy had us smiling right off the bat.  He believes in giving his patients the best possible medical advice he can, and then hands over the final decision to the patient.  He views himself a medical advisor, as well as physician. 

I'm so afraid of doctors from growing up under the old medical philosophies, that it takes a real humdinger now to ease my anxieties.  I remember one time, a lot of years ago, the nurse had me take off my clothes, handed me a Kleenex to put on, told me to hop up on the torture table and the doctor would be right in.  Yah, right.  I'll bet I sat up there for a good forty-five minutes or more.  Finally, I heard the doctor's footsteps coming down the hall, stop outside my door, pause for about an hour to review my file, leaving me to stare at the door knob that finally and s-l-o-w-l-y turned.  He took one look at me and asked, "What on earth is wrong?"  I had broken out in blotches of red rash from my forehead to my toes.  I was dripping with sweat, and I couldn't remember why I was there in the first place!

Our new doctor reviewed our meds, answered our questions, relieved our concerns, and earned an A+ in all sections of our test.  I think our orphaned looks were obvious, cuz he jokingly assured us that he doesn't plan to retire for another 35 years.  If we can bear with him until then, he'd do his best to take care of us.

I liked him even more when he said, "And, I won't care what you weigh.  I'll just want you to walk, walk, walk, walk, walk."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Great Expectations in 1946

My parents brought home a baby girl in 1946, so naturally that year is mighty special to me.  It was right after World War II, and people expected a better life than before the war when the Great Depression brought poverty and hardship to the whole world. 

In 1946, the average cost of a new house was $5,600, average wages were $2,500, a gallon of gasoline 15 cents, and a new car $1,120.

One can't help wonder how my Daddy would react to seeing a vehicle costing over $75,000, $4 for gas at the gas pumps, and homes reaching for the million-dollar mark and more.  He'd shake his head in disbelief.  Daddy was a man of common sense, high integrity, and worked terribly hard to take care of us.  He was a young man of 32 when.....

The first step to realizing cancer could be treated with pharmacological agents was discovered in 1946.  Today we know it as chemotherapy.

The first step toward our modern Tupperware was taken in 1946, by an American chemist who came up with a way of purifying slag, a waste product of oil refinement, and making it into a molded flexible substance.

If you're a fisherman and use spoon plugs, it was in 1946 that they were invented by a math teacher in North Carolina.

An American logger out in Oregon invented the chipper teeth style chain saw.  The chipper teeth chain is still used today and remains one of the most important influences in the history of harvesting timber.

The strapping tape we use for reinforcing packages was invented in 1946.

DEET, the most common ingredient in repelling insects was invented by the U.S. Army in 1946, to help problems of jungle warfare during World War II.

The waterproof diaper came into being in 1946, when a lady used her shower curtain from her bathroom to make the first leak-proof, reusable diaper that contained plastic-lined cloth.  This same lady came up with the idea of replacing safety pins with plastic snaps on the sides of diapers.

We didn't have a U.S. Vice-President in 1946.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President, died in 1945 of a cerebral hemorrhage, and his Vice-President, Harry S. Truman, took over as President.  For the remainder of Roosevelt's term, Truman did not have a Vice-President.

That same year, the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Boston Red Sox, 4 games to 3, in the 43rd World Series.  Tide detergent was introduced, the first bikini bathing suit shown at a Paris fashion show, the first electric blanket manufactured, and the famous Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas opened.

No one snippet of history should be sugar-coated as being the best.  Our minds are cleverly wired in a way that enables us to remember the past better than it actually was.  My family was poor.  Daddy worked as a farm hand for his neighbor for $1 a day when he and mom first were married.  Never once do I remember my parents fitting and fuming about money or their lack of it.  Not once.  In fact, it wasn't until I got married that I realized just how poor we had been.

What I do remember, though, is that the four of us ate our daily three meals at the kitchen table, we had homemade bread and dessert every day, mom washed our clothes in an old wringer washing machine and hung them outside on the line to dry.  Our clothes were ironed on the ironing board, even the hankies.  She patched daddy's overalls when they were torn or worn through.  Eating out was almost unheard of, and trips to town were only made out of necessity.  Childhood, in 1946 was spent with family, and there were no team sports for kids.  We were expected to do our assigned chores, and I don't remember getting an allowance.  We were taught to recognize work that needed to be done, and to go ahead and do it without being asked.  We were taught manners and respect.  We knew when to say 'please' and when to say 'thank you' and were reminded if we didn't.  We were taught to look up to our grandparents and watch and listen to what they had to share with us.

We milked the cows by hand, separated the milk and the cream with a separator out in the milk house, drank unpasteurized whole milk, and didn't die from it.  We fell and got back up, nobody pampered us nor dressed us in protective armor.  We got cut and bruised, banged up and turned black and blue.  Time healed our wounds, and nobody ooohed and aaahed over us.

I'm finding the old saying to be true.....the older we get, the more attached to our childhoods we become.  It's a fun place to go, because only we can go there.  I think it's only fair, though, that we don't mistake our wishful thinking for the way things really were. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What It's Like Being Me......

All my life, I've felt like a Raggedy Ann
 living in a Barbie Doll world!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Church Steeples and Church Bells

There it was.  Out in the middle of nowhere, tucked in the hillside trees.......a white church humble and so sacred.

Once upon a time everything revolved around the church.  Church steeples were built to remind people how important the church was in their lives.  A lot of them were clock towers with bells that were rung for spiritual and non-spiritual functions.  The ringing of bells let clergy know when to perform ceremonies, when to pray, and when to fast.  They also alerted people to nearby danger, like a fire or an approaching army.

In the 1950s, my family out on the farm could hear the "death bell" ring a mile away in town.  When a member of our small Catholic parish passed away, the church bells let the rest of us know by ringing one clang, a pause, another clang, another pause, another clang, another pause, until the sad message was decoded.  We farmers didn't go to town on a whim back then, so we may not otherwise have gotten the news.  The main reasons for our Chevy Fleetline coming to town were Sunday Mass, needing groceries, selling eggs and buying hog feed from the elevator.    

Ahhhhhh, that seems like more than one lifetime ago.  Sometimes I'm blown away by how things have changed since I was that little farm girl. 

Wouldn't it have to be absolutely breathtaking to sit on a big puffy cloud and behold a panoramic view of all the church steeples pointing heavenward across the nation....each one trying ever so desperately to touch the Divine Place we hope and pray is there.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Let Us Not Waste Food

Tis the season of leftovers, and all of us are eager for ways to magically turn them into appealing new meals.........
  • Turn bread into bread sticks:  Cut bread into strips, brush with butter or olive oil, season with favorite seasonings, bake till crispy.
  • Turn bread into croutons for lettuce salads:  Dice bread into cubes, brush with olive oil, and season before baking.  
  • Turkey carcasses and vegetable scraps can be boiled down for stock and soups.  We did this at our house, added noodles homemade by the Amish, and had a wonderful meal of homemade turkey noodle soup.
  • With leftover rice, stir up a quick rice pudding.  Combine 1 cup cooked rice, 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1 cup applesauce, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Mix well, spoon into dishes and serve.
  • Leftover mashed potatoes can be turned into potato pancakes by taking 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes, 1 or 2 eggs, 1/4 cup four, salt, pepper, garlic, chopped onion or chives.  Preheat skillet and add a couple Tablespoons of shortening or oil.  Pour 1/4 cup batter into hot skillet, press with a spatula to flatten, brown on both sides.
  • Turn leftover cranberry sauce into a one-serving salad vinaigrette by mixing together 2 Tablespoons cranberry sauce, 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard, and 1 teaspoon olive oil. 
  • Replace cream of mushroom soup that's called for in a casserole recipe with leftover gravy.  The gravy is flavorful and will add a new spin to the dish.
  • Stuff a squash with leftover stuffing by piercing a whole acorn squash in a few places with a sharp knife, bake on high in the microwave for 4 minutes.  Turn over an bake for another 4 minutes.  Carefully cut the squash in half and remove seeds and strings.  Fill the squash cavity with a mixture of leftover stuffing, diced turkey, and top with 2-3 Tablespoons Parmesan (or other) cheese.  Brush squash flesh with melted butter, then bake on a cookie sheet for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • If you have pickle juice left in a jar, don't pour it out.  Use it to make a fresh batch of refrigerator pickles, or add it to salad dressings.
  • If there's a small amount of honey left in the bottom of a jar, add a squeeze or two of lemon juice and swish it around.  The juice from the lemon will loosen up the honey, and you have an ideal addition to a cup of tea.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, roughly one-third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted each year.  The food wasted in the United States each year is enough to satisfy the hunger of the approximately 1 billion malnourished people worldwide, according to State of the World 2011.

Each of us plays a part in these godawful statistics.  When we open our refrigerators, let's get creative and see how we can turn those leftovers into the next meal.  If your kids don't like leftovers, well, then it's time they go without a meal.  Let them know that some children in less fortunate countries go to bed hungry because they have no other choice.  

Christmas season is here, and all of us can get more watchful of the food we throw in the garbage.  Start a 2012 Food Challenge in your home.  The family member who gets most creative with reusing food leftovers will earn a hike in allowance or earn some other household privilege.  Let's teach our kids that there's more to a kitchen than fancy granite counter tops.  Let's teach them how to cook and how to be smart with our planet's food sources.  We have the responsibility to teach them so they can teach their children. Let's make it our 2012 Mission. 

All other creatures on planet Earth, living in trees, in the water, in the jungles, and the deserts, know enough to search for and save their food to stay alive. We have only to watch the squirrels to prove this true.  Only we humans, with our aggrandized sense of self, are irrational enough to throw our food away.

Please be thankful.....not wasteful.      

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Prayer -- A Talk With Mother Nature

"Well, you see when we smile and thank, we offer thanksgiving, is not it?" he says.

"Hey, I feel as if I am always talking with Mother Nature because I always smile and thank.  Is it not wonderful?  Does this kind of self-talk or imagination help us?" I ask.

"Yaw, you know my granny says that the proper imaginations and our prayers help us to interact with Mother Nature in mind, is not it?" he says.

"Does this communication help?"  I ask.

"It always helps.  You know, in our imaginations, we communicate with our body, mind, heart, soul, and Mother Nature and receive answers for whatever we want to know.  Is not it?" he says.

"How can we know by prayers?"  I ask.

"You know, the prayers help us to live in the present.  When we learn it, we think, feel and imagine properly.  This helps us to search the right answer.  Is not it?" he says.

"I cannot understand it, how can prayers help?" I ask.

"You see, when we search water to drink, we get it.  Similarly, when we want to get an answer or solve a problem, it is a work of our mind, is not it?" he replies.

"I do not understand, when our mind works, how can the prayers help?" I ask.

"You are asking a funny question.  When we pray, our mind comes into present.  You know, granny says that when our mind comes into the present, it works with great concentration and more effectively, so we get the answer and the art of problem solving, is not it?" he says.

"Yaw, it is true, now I understand that the prayer gives the magic touch to our mind and brings it back into the present to help us properly.  It is a great thing, is not it?" I say.

"I feel the same.  You know we usually hear from elders to live in the present and think about today, this is our daily need.  Is not it a wonderful help to our mind and body to work in a better way?" he says. 

"Yaw, we have many daily needs like we eat, sleep, and learn.  The prayers guide us to do everything on right time and at right place, is not it?" I say.

"You are right, my granny says that we should learn to always live in the present, though we can remember our past and think about the future.  Is not it?" he says.

"You see the prayers help a lot, as your granny says, is not it?" I say.

"I can give you a beautiful example of it which helps to keep us in the present," he says.

"What is it?" I ask.

"It is our smile, is not it," he says.

"We have smile, when we offer thanks, is not it?" I reply.

"No, not only this, we usually see the one who receives our thanks also smiles, is not it?" he says.

"Yes, it is so," I say.

"Thanks for your smile, you know granny says that the smile is also a magic touch for our body, mind, heart and the soul, is not it?" he says.

"Yaw, it is.  It is good imagination, we just forget everything, when we smile, is not it?" I say.

"Yaw, I always remember the smiling as a greeting card and never forget it.  Okay, see you tomorrow, thanks for the sharing.  Well, we should be leaving now, taking care that we smile before we speak," he says.

"Yaw, it is a nice thing that we enjoy sharing it, have Happy Peace Night!" I say.

"Thanks, have Happy Peace Night," he replied.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Remembering "Christmas Vacation"

When the holidays roll around every year, I start thinking about Chevy Chase and the movie "Christmas Vacation."  The part when the whole clan, including Cousin Eddie's family and their dog Snot, gather around the table, Aunt Bethany prays the Pledge of Allegiance, Clark poises himself to carve the turkey, inserts the knife into the beautifully browned bird, and it explodes from being in the oven too long!

Tomorrow the three of us will be together here, as our family celebration was last weekend.  We will grace the day with togetherness, reminiscing about Thanksgivings past, being grateful for the lives we've made for ourselves, and holding the fuzzy one who brings a whole other arena of love and silliness to our home.

And, we will be thankful that our parents are no longer suffering and that we are given this time for ourselves.  Our care taking assignments are fulfilled, our lifelong careers completed, and now there's a freedom for us that we never had before.  No matter what happens in the future, we will have had these blessed years.

I so appreciate every single person who has touched my life, has been good to me, made me laugh, and treated me with respect.  Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Celebrity Names

It's not by accident that celebrities have snazzier names than the rest of us.  It's because they change their names to more charming ones, like...

Stage Name         Birth Name
Alan Alda - Aphonso D'Abruzzo
Barry Manilow - Barry Alan Pincus
Bea Arthur - Bernice Frankel
Bo Derek - Mary Cathleen Collins
Bob Hope - Leslie Townes Hope
Charles Bronson - Charles Dennis Buchinski
Cher - Cherilyn Sarkisian
Cheryl Ladd - Cheryl Stoppelmoor
Chubby Checker - Ernest Evans
Chuck Norris - Carlos Ray
Conway Twitty - Harold Lloyd Jenkins
Danny Thomas - Muzyad Yakhoob
Demi Moore - Demetria Guynes
Doris Day - Doris von Kappelhoff
Elton John - Reginald Kenneth Dwight
Enya - Eithne Ni Bhraonian
George Burns - Nathan Birnbaum
Jack Benny - Benjamin Kubelsky
Jane Seymour - Joyce Frankenberg
Jerry Lewis - Joseph Levitch
Joey Bishop - Joseph Gottlieb
John Denver - Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.
John Wayne - Marion Morrison
Kathy Lee Gifford - Kathie Epstein
Kirk Douglas - Issur Danieovitch
Lady Gaga - Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta
Larry King - Larry Ziegler
Lee Majors - Harvey Lee Yeary II
Michael Landon - Eugene Maurice Orowitz
Morgan Fairchild - Patsy McClenny
Natalie Wood - Natasha Gurdin
Nicolas Cage - Nicholas Coppola
Omar Sharif - Michael Shalhoub
Queen Latifah - Dana Elaine Owens
Randy Travis - Randy Traywick
Richard Burton - Richard Jenkins
Ringo Starr - Richard Starky
Rock Hudson - Roy Scherer, Jr.
Rodney Dangerfield - Jacob Cohen
Roy Rogers - Leonard Franklin Sly
Sally Field - Sally Mahoney
Sandra Dee - Alexandria Zuck
Shania Twain - Eileen Regina Edwards
Stephanie Powers - Stefania Federkiewicz
Steve Lawrence - Sidney Liebowitz
Susan Surandon - Susan Tomaling
Tiger Woods - Eldrick Woods
Tina Turner - Annie Mae Bullock
Tom Cruise - Thomas Mapother IV
Tom Jones - Thomas Woodward
Tony Curtis - Bernard Schwartz
Walter Matthau - Walter Matuschanskayasky
Whoopie Goldberg - Caryn Johnson
Woody Allen - Allen Konigsberg
Wynonna Judd - Christina Ciminella

Kinda makes me wonder what name I'd choose for myself if I was a celebrity.  Would it be one name or two?  Hmmmmm.  Gonna think on that a bit.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Wine Vessels

Leave it to my sister-in-law on hubby's side.  She's a creative one, always making things and giving them to others.

Yesterday she gifted us with two Red Neck Wine Glasses.  She took a Kerr pint jar and, with a type of Super Glue, attached it to a glass candle holder.  Talk about conversation pieces!

Tonight I intend to initiate my new wine glass with one of the three bottles included in our gift basket.....Chardonnay, Cranberry, or St. Croix Grape.

Bottle of
After a bit of looking, I learned that the oldest known bottle of wine was found in Speyer, Germany, when excavation workers uncovered it in a vineyard back in 1867.  It was inside one of two Roman stone burial containers that were dug up.  The bottle dates back to around 325 A.D.  Its greenish-yellow glass has handles shaped like dolphins.  It was one of several bottles found, but is the only one with the contents still preserved.

The ancient wine has quite a bit of silty sediment, about 2/3rds a thick, hazy mixture.  This is most probably olive oil, which the Romans commonly used to 'float' on top of wine to keep it from deteriorating.  Although corks were known to exist at the time, they were uncommon.  This method of oil preservation was apparently effective enough to keep the wine from evaporation even up to modern day.

If you're ever in Speyer, Germany, the bottle is on display at the Historisches Museum der Pfaltz.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Color Yellow

  • Yellow has come to symbolize our support of the men and women of the armed forces.  Remember the song, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree."
  • On the Native American medicine wheel, East is represented by the color yellow, signifying the beginning.  The sun rises in the east, and with the sun comes a new day.
  • The color yellow is said to stimulate the memory.
  • Yellow dominates the Chinese culture like nowhere else in the world. 
  • In India, yellow is the color Hindus wear to celebrate Spring.
  • In the U.S., taxi cabs, school buses, and warning signs are painted yellow to grab our attention.
  • In the Aztec culture, yellow symbolized food because it was the color of corn, their primary food source.
  • In medical terms, a yellow flag indicates a quarantine.
  • 75% of the pencils sold in the U.S. are painted yellow.
  • In car racing, a yellow flag signals caution.  Cars must remain in their current position when the yellow flag is shown.
  • In football, when a referee throws a yellow flag onto the playing field, that indicates a penalty.
  • Yellow's complimentary color in the garden is purple.
  • Yellow is a primary color that is parent to other beautiful colors.
  • Ripe bananas are dressed in yellow.
  • Juicy yellow pineapple isn't sweet, it isn't tart, it's a taste of its very own.
  • The yellow lemon peel refreshes, lifts the spirits, and rejuvenates.
  • Smiley faces, butter, canaries, baby chicks, daffodils, slicker raincoats, yellow jacket wasps, and egg yolks are fine representatives of this endearing color.

Yellow Rose of Texas

Friday, November 18, 2011

Early Thanksgiving Dinner

Today we're getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner at our house tomorrow.  There will be nine of us on hubby's side, and we can't wait to see their cars pull up in front of the house.
One can't help but think about the days when our parents hosted these dinners.  It's not easy admitting that we're now the family patriarch and matriarch, but, hey, we love it.  For years I fretted about getting this age, only to find it to be my best yet. 

Our home has a living room, a den, kitchen, and bath downstairs, and two bedrooms and a walk-in attic upstairs.  Even though we don't have a dining room, we've adapted just fine over the years to an informal style of entertaining.  It's that business of being creative with what you have and not wishing for it to be otherwise.

No fancy china at our house, we preferring festive Thanksgiving paper plates with matching napkins and dessert plates.  A few years ago we remodeled our kitchen, and we put in a movable island.  It's just the ticket for serving buffet style, plus it provides storage space for the silverware and utensils, skillets, crock pots, cake and bread pans.

All groceries are bought.  Migod, but the cost of food is going up and up.  I overheard a few shoppers openly complaining, questioning where the price hikes will end.  A person has to be a vigilant shopper, like my husband was yesterday, when he noticed a generic brand soup was marked at a higher price than Campbell's.  Campbell's was 5 for $3.00 (or 60 cents a can) and the generic store brand was 79 cents a can.

It's overcast here today, the sort of weather one would expect for this time of year.  Both of us are, for the first time, feeling a titch of anxiety with the time change.  Makes me cringe when I say that, cuz I never understood why my mother used to fret about the long evenings after the time changed.  Well, in the last couple of years, I've learned not to criticize the generation before me.  I know now that I'll be fitting into that same mold myself, like it or not.  Humans are humans, we are all the same, no matter how hard we try to pretend otherwise.

I'd best head for the kitchen and get to making pies......

Ta-ta for today.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Corn Harvest

This is a typical sight now where we live.  Wagons and semis are hauling load after load of harvested corn to
local grain terminals, where it's put into these huge stockpiles.  Much of it will then be taken to the river terminals, loaded on barges, and exported around the world.
Just for fun, go to for a list of products that are made with corn.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Wayside Sacrament

"...people living close to nature tend to be noble.  It's seeing all those sunsets that does it.  You can't watch a sunset and then go off and set fire to your neighbor's tepee.  Living close to nature is wonderful for your mental health." ~Quinn

"The sky is that beautiful old parchment in which the sun and the moon keep their diary."  ~Alfred Kreymborg

"The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious.  And why shouldn't it be?  It is the same the angels breathe."  ~Mark Twain

"The sky, a perfect empty canvas, offers clouds nonetheless.  They shift and drift and beg interpretation.....such is the nature of art."  ~Jeb Dickerson

"God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars."  ~Author unknown

"When I do not walk in the clouds, I walk as though I were lost."  ~Antonio Porchia

"When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator."  ~Mahatma Gandhi

"Never lose an opportunity
 of seeing anything that is beautiful;
 for beauty is God's handwriting....
a wayside sacrament.
  Welcome it in every fair face,
 in every fair sky,
 in every fair flower,
 and thank God for it
 as a cup of blessing."
  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Beloved Pet

This is the fuzzy one's first "best fend."  Yesterday a pack of puppy angels came down, swooped her out of her mamma's arms, and took her with them up to Puppy Heaven.  She went from arms of love.....into arms of forever be cuddled close. 

It was I who nicknamed her 'No Nose,' cuz her Pekingese nose was nearly flat against her face.  I would tease her, "You ain't gotz no nose!" 

I remember one day this last year when we sat on the outdoor patio at her house.  No Nose was laying ever so sickly beside her mamma, barely able to move, or so we thought.  All of a sudden she heard the "clip clop clip clop" of an Amish buggy going by the front of the house.  Her head perked up, she took off lickety split, ran up the back porch, down the other side of the back porch, headed straight for the horse and buggy.  Her daddy got his foot caught on the leg of a patio chair and nearly killed himself trying to catch her.  Thank goodness he got to her just in time, grabbed her, and carried the feisty fluff ball back to the patio.  The four of us just stood there......did she really do what she just did?  Yup, that's how I choose to remember spunky No Nose.

I'm so sad.....
Sleep tight, little mouse.  Don't worry.  We'll take care of your mamma.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cranberry Hootycreek Cookies

I've searched and researched how this cookie got its name, but haven't been able to find anything about its history.   All I know is that the hootycreek is one of the yummiest cookies to have in the cookie jar, and they make perfectly sweet holiday gifts to give to special friends and co-workers. 

2-1/4 cups flour
1 cup old-fashioned (not quick-cooking) oatmeal
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, or pecans, chopped
  1. Set oven to 350.
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or spray with Pam or like spray.
  3. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir in oatmeal.
  4. In electric mixer, cream the butter for 1 minute.  Add white and brown sugars and vanilla and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  With beater running, add the eggs, one by one, and beat 2-3 minutes or until mixture is light lemon-colored and perfectly smooth.
  5. Add dry ingredients all at once and mix on lowest speed just until blended.
  6. Remove bowl from mixer and stir in cranberries, white chips and nuts by hand.
  7. Drop batter by tablespoonful onto prepared baking pans, spacing cookies 2" apart.  (You can get a dozen cookies on an average-size cookie sheet.)
  8. Transfer cookies to hot oven and bake about 10 minutes, or until firm and slightly brown around the edges.  (Depending on your oven, this may take from 8-15 minutes.)
  9. Transfer cookies to wire racks to completely cool, then store in an airtight container.
  10. Makes 36-50 cookies, depending on size.
Always remember:  A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Poor Man's Burial

An inexperienced preacher was to hold a graveside burial service at a pauper's cemetery for an indigent man with no family or friends.  Not knowing where the cemetery was, he made several wrong turns and got lost.  When he eventually arrived an hour late, the hearse was nowhere insight, the backhoe was next to the open hole, and the workmen were sitting under a tree eating lunch.

The diligent young pastor went to the open grave and found the vault lid already in place.  Feeling guilty about his tardiness, he preached an impassioned and lengthy service, sending the deceased to the Great Beyond in style.

As he returned to his car, he overheard one workman say to the other, "I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years, and I ain't never seen anything like that."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Whitetail Deer

11 people sitting at a table in the restaurant last evening, celebrating an 11th wedding anniversary, on, that's what i call a once-in-a-century celebration!

Hasn't the moon been magnificent the last few nights? This is when a moon roof is nice for a romantic drive under the light of the silvery moon. Or, something like that.

Drivers beware of deer on the roads. This time of year it takes more than two eyes to avoid hitting one, and most drivers appreciate watchful help from the passengers, even those in the backseat!

Most evenings at dusk we go for a deer run.  That's when the whitetail deer come out in the open fields to graze.  After dark, our headlights find deer for us by what's called 'eyeshine.'  Deer, as well as other creatures like rabbits, fox, cats, raccoon, bullfrogs, and owls, have a mirror-like membrane at the back of their eyes that gives them a superior night vision.  When bright lights go through the eye retina and are reflected back from this membrane, it sends back twice the light as normal.

When I was a young girl at home on the farm, there weren't nearly the number of deer there are today.  My Dad would find it hard to believe that sometimes as many as 200 deer are roaming around our farm yard.  Winter can be sadly harsh on deer, especially when there's a lot of snow cover and they can't find food.  A few caring farmers will put food out for them.  A sure sign that they've had to struggle through winter is when the arborvitae trees and shrubs have been eaten away.

Today's agenda is full.  Invitations and places to go.  Best find some clothes to wear and get myself dolled up.....if that's even possible at my age.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day in America!

Right side up.
Right side down.
Left to right.
Right to left.
No matter how you read it,
Today is 11-11-11.
1 standing beside 1.

Great Spirit,
Every day, not just today,
we honor our veterans,
heroes and she-roes
who gave their best
when called upon
to serve and protect
our beautiful America.
Please bless them
for their selfless service
to maintain our freedoms
and our safety.
Bless them...
for the hardships they faced,
for the sacrifices they made
for their individual contributions.
May they know how much
we respect them,
we thank them,
we honor them,
we pray for them, and
we love them.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Creative Spirit

Hubby thanks all of you who phoned or emailed your birthday wishes to him yesterday.  Each one brought a big smile to his face!

Our favorite Chinese restaurant offers a free birthday buffet, so that's where the birthday boy chose to go for lunch.  We ate so much, we weren't hungry when it came to suppertime.  That's the bad part about buffets....not knowing when to stop eating!

We didn't make plans, so we tended to errands, like picking up our meds at the pharmacy and stopping at Wal Mart for the usual walk-through.  The afternoon still had hours to fill, so we drove to the nursing home to visit hubby's first cousin on his mother's side.  She is 77 and has Alzheimer's.  She was so happy to see us.  First thing, she handed me her notebook so I would write down that we came to visit her.  Otherwise she wouldn't remember.
Look at what I can do....
not what I can't do.

Even though her mind doesn't remember one minute from the next, she still knows by heart how to crochet a  pattern of stitches and when to change colors of yarn to maintain the pattern.  She chooses yarns that go together nicely.  On the floor beside her recliner sits a stack of crocheted pieces.  When hubby told her it was his birthday, she told him, "Pick whichever one you want and take it with you."

Visits to nursing homes are something we all need to do more often.  They give us a glimpse of what our own situation may be someday.  Just between you, me, and the tree, I'm not sure I want to reach that ripe old age.  It ain't what it's cracked up to be.  Anyone who thinks it is, hasn't seen it up close and personal.

The birthday ended with a little party here at home.  Holy monkeys, does the fuzzy one ever love vanilla ice cream!!!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Birthday Message

Winter white is what I saw when I pulled the bedroom curtains apart this morning.  The raindrops at bedtime transitioned into snowflakes.  The streets are slush, our outdoor thermometer reads 40 degrees, the couple inches of snow won't last long. 

Many were the years that we dressed up in warm clothes and battled bad roads going to work.  When I think back to some of my solo drives in white-outs and ice, I know there were four hands on the steering wheel.  A person has to live through the harsh working years before being able to properly appreciate the cuddly indoor days like this.

I think of our home as an art gallery.  Every window is a picture frame.  Mother Nature is in charge of changing the animated pictures at Her whim. 

There's a birthday in our house today.  I'm thinking the new snowfall is a birthday card sent down from his relatives in Heaven.  That might be stretching the realm of possibility, but who's to say. 

Our little family of 3 celebrates our birthdays for at least a week before, and at least a week after the actual day.  We reminisce about birthdays past, especially like the one 26 years ago today.  I got gutsy and planned a walloping surprise party, invited around 150 friends and family to help celebrate, readied enough food to feed the army, only to watch the white stuff fall aggressively, hour after hour all day long, until roads were impassable with 12-15" by the time the party was to start.

I vowed to myself never ever as long as I live to plot another surprise party.  My good intentions flopped, my heart was broken, tears fell. My efforts were curtailed, the party failed.  Was there a message from heaven involved that time?  If there was, I never did figure out what it was.

From Your Girls

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Water Puddles

Old habits never go away. 

First thing this morning when I saw the water puddles, my mind started singing....."It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring.  He went to bed and bumped his head, and didn't get up till morning!"

Monday, November 07, 2011

An Afternoon Moon

Yesterday I was antsy.  Just couldn't settle myself down to do anything here at the house.  When I announced my antsiness, hubby chimed in, feeling the same way.  A half hour later our vehicle was taking us south out of town to check out a craft show and from then on we jig-jagged our way down gravel roads looking for the unfamiliar.

The bucks are in rut now, so our binoculars brought a few trophies close up so we could better see the size of their racks.  We stopped to watch them eating in the harvested corn fields, mingling together on a quiet afternoon.  It seems to me the bucks 'dumb down' when they're in rut.  They're so preoccupied with the ladies, that they forget their vulnerability to the hunter's aim.

It was about 3:30 in the afternoon, new time, when hubby said, "Look at the moon!"  How afternoon moon.

This was the moon an hour later.

Both of us get a kick out of sky watching.....we look for the first star to come out at night, the dippers, the sun getting up in the morning, the sun going to bed in the evening, silhouettes of buildings and tree lines, scary clouds, big puffy white clouds, airplane tracks, the moonrise and the moonset. Incredible intrigue is right above us if only we lift our heads to see.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

One Sunday morning.......

...... an old cowboy entered a church just before services were to begin.  Although the old man and his clothes were spotlessly clean, he wore jeans, a denim shirt and boots that were worn and ragged.  In his hand he carried a worn-out old hat and an equally worn, dog-eared Bible.

The church he entered was in a very upscale and exclusive part of the city.  It was the largest and most beautiful church the old cowboy had ever seen.  The people of the congregation were all dressed with expensive clothes and fine jewelry.  As the cowboy took a seat, the others moved away from him.  No one greeted, spoke to, or welcomed him.  They were all appalled by his appearance and did not attempt to hide it.

As the old cowboy was leaving the church, the preacher approached him and asked the cowboy to do him a favor.  "Before you come back in here again, have a talk with God and ask Him what He thinks would be appropriate attire for worship in church."  The old cowboy assured the preacher he would.

The next Sunday, he showed back up for the services wearing the same ragged jeans, shirt, boots, and hat.  Once again he was completely shunned and ignored.  The preacher approached the cowboy and said, "I thought I asked you to speak to God before you came back to our church."

"I did," replied the old cowboy.

"And what was His reply?" asked the preacher.

"Well, sir, God told  me that He didn't have a clue what I should wear.  He said He'd never been in this church."

Saturday, November 05, 2011

This is my wish for you:

Comfort on difficult days,
Smiles when sadness intrudes,
Rainbows to follow the clouds,
Laughter to kiss your lips,
Sunsets to warm your heart,
Hugs when spirits sag,
Beauty for your eyes to see,
Friendships to brighten your being,
Faith so that you can believe,
Confidence for when you doubt,
Courage to know yourself,
Patience to accept the truth,
Love to complete your life.

Friday, November 04, 2011

John, or Jack

In Hebrew, John means, "gracious" or "merciful."  Apostles, saints, popes, kings, celebrities, artists, sports stars, writers, and U.S. Presidents have worn the name.  John Adams was our 2nd U.S. President, John Quincy Adams the 6th, John Tyler the 10th, and John F. Kennedy the 35th.  Astronaut John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth.

John Deere, John Doe, Johnny Appleseed, Johnny Cash, John Boy of The Waltons, and the Dear John Letter all pay tribute to the name in different venues.  When we sign our name, it's said we sign our "John Hancock."  Three irreplaceable Johns were John Wayne, John Candy, and "Heeee're's Johnny!"

Jack is the easy-going nickname for John, which has been a popular name among the English speaking for centuries.  Scads of phrases and nursery rhymes include Jack, like......

  • Jack, Be Nimble
  • The House that Jack Built
  • Jack Sprat
  • Jack and Jill
  • Little Jack Horner
  • Jack Frost
  • Jack O'Lantern
  • Jack of All Trades
  • Jack-in-the-Box
  • Jack the Ripper
  • Jack the Giant
  • All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
  • Panama Jack
  • Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Crackerjack
  • Flap jack
  • Jack hammer
  • Jack knife
  • Jack rabbit
  • Jack-in-the-Pulpit
  • Jackpot
  • Jumping Jack
  • Phone Jack
  • Hijack
  • Black Jack
  • Boot Jack
  • Lumberjack........and the best one of all......
  • Jack Z.......(hope you're reading this!!!!!)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Church Suppers

Last evening we met our friends at a small country church, where the men, women, boys, and girls of the congregation passed bowls of food around our table and poured us bottomless cups of coffee. 

Living in rural America like we do, provides and blesses us with old-fashioned church suppers.  This particular one draws repeat customers because the food is delicious and is served family style.  They pass the bowls around the table, take all you want,  just like it used to be at home when we were kids.

It was comical when we recognized one of the young boys serving our table.  He carries a family resemblance that he can't hide.  His face lit up when we guessed what family he belonged to.  Is there anything sweeter than children who look just like their parents!

We consider ourselves blessed to be able to look ahead to events, like this annual church supper, with dear friends.  Special occasions are the bookmarks in the book of life.  No matter what our days in between bring, we still have these special days to look forward to.

All four of our plates were heaped after two generous helpings of real mashed potatoes, gobs of gravy served from pitchers, meatballs, corn, green beans, coleslaw, and biscuits with butter.  Young boys served our choice of homemade pumpkin or apple pie.  We visited with the strangers sitting next to us, but they really weren't strangers at all.  Life is the same for them as it is for us, and conversation came easy. 

The first snow of the season fell in our area yesterday.  About mid-day, hubby called me to the kitchen window, "Come in here, it's snowing!"  There's significance to personally witnessing the first snow fall.  Kinda like seeing the first robin to arrive in the spring.  Once we see it snow, well, then it's no longer a shock when snow falls after that.

Today's calendar is open, so hubby put on a warm jacket and went outside to winterize.  I just saw him buzz by the front window on his John Deere lawn tractor.  I'm pretty darned lucky, because I don't have to do any of the home maintenance.  He takes care of all that, and I'm just along for the ride.   

Supper is in the crock pot.  So far as I'm concerned, the slow cooker is the neatest invention, second to the Internet.  For the last how many years we have relied on the crock pot to have meals ready for us after work, and now we plug it in and let it prepare our meals in retirement.  Slowly cooked food is tastier, as my mother used to say.

"Joy is what happens to us
 when we allow ourselves
 to recognize
 how good things really are."
  ~Marianne Williamson

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


One has to live moment to moment, neither thinking of the past, nor thinking of the future, nor clinging to the present.  Enjoy the moment while it is here.  When the moment begins to disappear, as everything will, let it go. We have to stop clinging to our past.  The past has got to die.

Every day things are different, yet we cling to our fixed ideas.  If we live with fixed ideas of how we think our life ought to be, our life dies to the situation that really is.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Mallards and McDonald's

We took jackets along but didn't need them as we mosied our way along the lake, watching the Mallards  and listening to their continuing chorus of quacks.  Were they talking to us?  scolding us?  or warning us?

Hubby made a few casts off a jetty on the other side of the lake, but a fellow fisherman said the wind was in the wrong direction for the walleye to bite like they did the day before.  Fishing and catching are two separate sports.  Hubby filled his limit, even though he didn't catch any fish.

My trusty book of crosswords entertained me, while the fuzzy one sat on my lap and soaked up every second of her day away from home. Before heading back, we ate BLT Chicken Sandwiches at McDonald's and ordered a plain hamburger for the mutt.  She just loves 'em but spits out the pickle! 

Today's schedule has a couple out-of-town appointments, the first of which is in one hour.  I'd best finish my cup of coffee, shower, and be on my way.