Monday, October 31, 2011

The Cab Driver And the Nun

A cab driver picks up a nun.  She gets into the cab, and the cab driver won't stop staring at her.

She asks him why he is staring and he replies, "I have a question to ask you, but I don't want to offend you."

She answers, "My dear son, you cannot offend me.  When you're as old as I am and have been a nun as long as I have, you get a chance to see and hear just about everything.  I'm sure that there's nothing you could say or ask that I would find offensive."

"Well, I've always had a fantasy to have a nun kiss me."

She responds, "Well, let's see what we can do about that.  First, you have to be single, and second, you must be a Catholic."

The cab driver is very excited and says, "Yes, I am single and I'm Catholic too!"

The nun says, "Okay, pull into the next alley."  He does, and the nun fulfills his fantasy.

But, when they get back on the road, the cab driver starts crying.

"My dear child," said the nun, "why are you crying?"

"Forgive me, sister, but I have sinned.  I lied, I must confess, I'm married and I'm a Baptist."

The nun says, "That's okay, I'm on my way to a Halloween party, and my name is Kevin."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Eve

This morning I received an email from a special someone in Upstate New York enlightening me to the modern way of trick or treating. 

Her daughter, who lives in one of the Carolinas, says that some of their church congregations do "trunk treating."  People open their car trunks, decorate them, and place containers of candy inside.  Kids then go from car to car, gathering their treats, instead of from house to house.  That way trickers get their treats, no one learns where you live, and the treaters are spared from jumping up and down to answer the door.

I'm pretty sure that I've seen goblins lurking in our neighborhood.  Those little guys that skip from house to house checking to see if we're behaving well enough to merit Halloween treats........Yup, there goes one right now.....shaking his head in a negative way.  Hmmm.  Wonder what that's all about. 

Soon Santa's elves will be peeking in our windows.  If it isn't one bunch of little peepers, it's another.  The best way to deal with elves is to behave from now until Christmas and then re-assess the situation when the new year starts.  That's the route I usually take, and it seems to work pretty well. 

I'm sitting here watching drops of water, one by one, drip from the naked branches of our boulevard ash tree.  The rooftops and streets are wet.  Mother Nature, as always, stayed up all night readying the world for the creepy crawlies that will come out when the clock strikes midnight.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Food for the Angels

My career counterpart and her husband came over to visit us yesterday.  We successfully kept our "work days" back stage the whole time they were here.  Instead, we reminisced and laughed about the silly stuff we did when we were kids.

Each year her mother started baking Christmas sugar cookies the first of November.  She'd bake one batch at a time, pack 'em up, and put them in the freezer.  The kids knew what she was doing, so when she wasn't around, they'd open the freezer, help themselves and re-seal the container.  She remembers being thankful her Dad was in the house the day her Mom first discovered she had no cookies for Christmas!

We laughed about how she and her siblings dared put their hands up inside a freshly baked angel food cake that was cooling upside down on a pop bottle.  By the time their mother came back to turn the cake pan right side up, she found her prized angel food cake had been torn apart and already eaten by the gang of imps she herself brought into the world.

My friend distinctly remembers her Dad repeatedly telling his wife, "Let the kids have it.  Why bake the really good stuff only when company comes!"   

That's how it was when we were growing up.  Our Moms prepared their best recipes and used their good dishes, silverware, and tablecloths only when someone would come over for a meal.   We girls learned from our Moms to "save the good stuff," and here we are now the joyless keepers of unused heirlooms that mean absolutely nothing to our kids. 

Our visit yesterday convinced me to start using the embalmed pieces of the past that are buried in the attic.  It can't ever be too late to breathe new life into that which has grown old, can it?   

Friday, October 28, 2011

Reading Through the Recession

Heads up, book enthusiasts! offers free e-reading.  Listed by Title and Author.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Finding A Hula Popper

My bobber is the one on the left, and hubby's is on the right.  I'm praying my bobber goes down...hubby prays his does.  A fierce, yet friendly, competition is underway.  Whoever catches the first fish gets an ice cream cone!

 One day this week we decided it was warm enough to hitch up the boat, maybe for the last time this year.  With a couple of phone calls, we re-arranged our errands to free up a few hours to spend at the lake.  We're to the point where we don't put things off anymore, and we try very hard to respect one another's wishes to do stuff. 
The trouble with us when we go fishing is that we fiddle around as much as we fish.  There's always a movie playing in nature, and we take time to watch and listen to the dramatic scenes as they unfold.  Like this string of geese making their way along the water's edge.
While anchored, hubby noticed a lure dangling from some weeds.  He maneuvered our boat close to the bank until he was able to reach up and retrieve it. Obviously, some unlucky bass fisherman put too much muscle into his cast.  Bad for him......good for hubby.

We did, however, encounter one "snag" at the very end of our outing.  The trolling motor got tangled up in a wad of fish line under the water.  Picture this:  a light wind pushing us backward and sideways, trolling motor doesn't work, regular motors not allowed, we're a distance from the dock, with darkness setting, that's live entertainment!!!

P.S.  No ice cream cones on the way home.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Medicare, Medigap, and Mental Mania

At 1 o'clock this afternoon we'll be sitting across the desk from an insurance agent.  A couple questions need answers, and we're ready to apply for Medigap Plans.

My brain is twisted from all the fussing, fretting, fuming, and flailing over Medigap and prescription drug plans. To show just how buried my brain has been, this past Saturday I sent an email, and a cell phone text message, to my niece wishing her a happy birthday.  I felt mighty stupid when I got a text back saying, "Auntie, my birthday isn't until next weekend!"

"Forget" and "mess up" are new household words.  So much hoopla is made over us seniors forgetting stuff, it's no wonder we're so defensive.  Hubby and I are staying ahead of the game by officially amending our House Rules to read, "Both parties will share humor and show compassion when/if the other forgets or does something out of sync."

Medicare is a complex formula, designed to confuse the confusable, and to frighten the fearful.  All we seniors can do is find a reliable agent, pick out the plans that protect us the most, sign up, and let that be the end of it.  Hopefully that will get done this afternoon.

Despite all that, if you see one of us losing marbles, you'll see the other winding up the wits.  That's the plan.....unless we forget!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Members of a Noble Kingdom

 Mother Nature's marvels are everywhere...wisps of miracles...silent, mysterious, and temporary.

Youtan Poluo
It is said that a farmer in China's northeastern Liaoning province was cleaning the steel pipes in his garden when he discovered this itty-bitty flower, measuring only 1 mm in diameter.  (A good formula to compare inches to millimeters is to take the number of mm and divide it by 25.4, because 1 inch = 25.4 mm.)   It is the Youtan Poluo.
Kadapul Flower

The Kadapul Flower (native to Sri Lanka) is a night owl that begins to unfold its petals around 10:30 p.m.  When all its petals have opened, an intense fragrance fills the air for a few minutes.  Then the petals begin to wilt, and by dawn the flower has withered.  The Kadapul Flower has been described as "the midnight miracle" and has been compared to "someone who has an impressive, but very brief moment of glory, since it takes a year to bloom for one single night."  
Cape Sundew
Isn't this one interesting?  It's the Cape Sundew that grows on the Cape of South Africa.  The Sundew acts like a fly-paper trap, using her sticky fingers to trap insects, wrap them up, and move them toward her center for digestion.

"Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words.  They are the hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all men for the beauty of their character, though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning.  ~Lydia M. Child

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Do You Speak French?

Sure you do.....because more than 33% of all English words are French influenced. Even though we may have not studied the French language, we are routinely speaking scads of French words, like......
Adieu - goodbye
A` la carte - each item sold separately
A` la mode - with ice cream
Ape`rtif - before-meal drink
Applique` - attached decoration
Attache` - a person with an embassy, or briefcase
Au gratin - with the grating, prepared with grated cheese, au gratin potatoes
Au revoir - see you again
Avant-garde - cutting-edge
Ballet - type of dance
Belle - beautiful female
Blase` - nonchalant
Blond - light-haired male
Blonde - light-haired female
Bon appe`tit - enjoy your meal
Bonjour - Good day
Bon voyage - have a good trip
Brunette - brown-haired girl
Buffet - meal set out on table for choosing
Bureau - office
Cafe` - coffee shop
Caramel - burnt cream
Carte blanche - unlimited authority
C`est la vie (say la vee) - that's life
Chaise longue, or lounge - chair for reclining
Cliche` - an adage, saying
Clique (click) - small exclusive group of friends
Concierge - hotel desk manager
Connoisseur - person of refined taste
Cordon Bleu - means 'blue ribbon'
Corduroy - a material used in clothing
Coup de gra`ce - the final blow
Coup d`e`tat - sudden, forced change in government
Coquette - flirtatious girl
Creche (kresh) - a nativity display
Creme brulee - dessert of custard and toasted sugar
Creme de la creme - best of the best, cream of the cream
Croissant - buttery, flaky pastry named for its crescent shape, symbol of the often-worshipped Moon
Cul-de-sac - dead end
Culottes - knee-length pants
De`ja` vu - already seen
Derrie`re - the behind, or butt
Entree` - main dish
Entrepreneur - one who undertakes a new enterprise
Escargots - snails
Expose` - published exposure of scandal
Forte` - a strength
Faux pas - social error
Genre (zhan rah) - type or class
Grand Prix - Grand Prize, type of motor racing
Hors D`oeuvres - finger food
Layette - clothing and accessories for a baby
Macrame` - lace work with knotted cords
Mai`tre d - headwaiter
Malaise - general state of depression
Mardi gras - Fat Tuesday, the last day of eating meat before lent
Marquee - sign hanging in front of a theater advertising featured movie
Mayonnaise - 'invented in 1756 by a French chef of the Duc de Richelieu.  After the Duc beat the British at Port Mahon, his chef prepared a victory feast that was to include a sauce made of cream and eggs.  Realizing there was no cream in the kitchen, the chef substituted olive oil for the cream, and a new culinary creation was born.  The chef named the new sauce "Mahonnaise" in honor of the Duc's victory.'
Merci beaucoup - thank you very much
Mirepoix (meer a pwah) - cooking mixture 2 parts onion and 1 part each celery and carrots
Moi (mwah) - me
Mousse - whipped dessert, or hairstyling foam
Naive - lacking experience
Nee - born, often referring to maiden name
Non - no
Oui (wee) - yes
Papier-ma`che` - a craft medium using paper and paste, 'chewed paper'
Par excellence - by excellence
Potpourri - a medley
Prote`ge` - one receiving support from an influential patron
Rapport - to be in one's good graces
RSVP (Re`pondez s`il vous plait) - please reply
Rendezvous - meeting
Resume` - list of qualifications
Roux (roo) - a cooked mixture of flour and fat used in soups and gravies
Sabotage - originates from the practice of industrial workers destroying machines by tossing their sabots (wooden shoes) into machinery.
Sans - without
Savant - a wise person, exceptionally gifted
Soupe du jour - soup of the day
Vignette - a short scene
Vinaigrette- oil and vinegar salad dressing
Vive la diffe`erence - long live the difference

Voila (vwah-lah) - there you go!!!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Aging Gives Us A New View

Eleanor Roosevelt said it best, "Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art."

Why is that?  Because, as we age, we develop......

  • A keener perception of reality
  • Less interest in material stuff
  • More interest in having new experiences
  • Increased acceptance of self
  • Increased wisdom
  • Sharper capacity for humor and wit
  • Increased spontaneity
  • Increased appreciation for friendships
  • Increased desire to do for others
  • Increased sense of fairness
  • Increased creativity
  • A refined value system.

Living a long life asks for a mighty steep climb, but it's absolutely true that the "new view" up here is worth every minute of the exhausting struggle.

 "The years teach much which the days never know."  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, October 21, 2011

Brain Freeze and World Series

Bless me, Father.............

That's how we Catholics begin our confessions.  So, I guess that's a good way for me to start out today's blog.

Three phone calls (each lasting between 15 and 30 minutes) have derailed my brain and its path to this morning's musings.  I beg forgiveness from my faithful followers.

At least the Texas Rangers tied the St. Louis Cardinals in game two of the World Series last night, so I remain hopeful that I can scam $20 from my betting buddy!

It's all about staying in the game.......

May the sun shine
in your heart!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gadhafi Gone -- Seize the Day

This morning's CNN headlines:  Moammar Gadhafi Killed in Hometown."  A cruel dictator, with a warped mind, eliminated from the Earth.  My heart goes out to the people of Libya.  In my night prayers you will be.

The sun is hidden behind clouds where I live.  The days of capris pants and short-sleeved shirts are now days of long pants and long sleeves.  Cuddly socks and fleecy blankets are coming out of summer storage.  After summer's stifling heat, this seasonal switchover is most welcome.  We follow the way of the bear.....we go in our den and cozy till spring.

The tomatoes are still producing, can you imagine that.  A whole bunch are on the kitchen island facing the south window.  None of us in the neighborhood wants to see them go to waste, so there's a tomato blitz going on among us.

One day this week we took a soup bone out of the freezer and added everything that resembled a vegetable.  Zucchini gives soup a wonderful sweet flavor.  We had some in the freezer from last year, so that freed some space for the tomatoes. The crock pot might just as well stay on the counter top until spring.

Oh, I see the sun decided to peek through the clouds.  Hmmmmm.  Ideas are starting to fly around in my brain like a room full of bats, scheming a day-cation.  These lingering autumn days may be few, so it makes good sense to embrace them best we can.  Oh, sure, there are kits and kaboodles of "should dos" around the house, garage, and attic, but I'd rather take a rain check on work than on fun.

"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature
 is that all of us tend to put off living.
  We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden
 over the horizon...
instead of enjoying the roses
 that are blooming outside our windows today."
  ~Dale Carnegie  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


There's an art show going on right now, with some incredibly ingenious pumpkin and scarecrow displays on porches and in front yards. 

Those silly structures with broomstick backbones have been around for thousands of years.  The ancestor to our modern-day scarecrow was first found along the Nile River in Egypt.  The Egyptian farmers put wooden frames in their fields and covered them with nets.  The farmers hid in the fields and scared the quail into the nets, and then they took them home as part of their food source.

In Greece, the vineyard keepers carved wooden scarecrows resembling one of their gods.  They found that by putting them in their vineyards, the birds stayed away from the grapes. 

In Mexico and Guatemala, and Aztec and Mayan descendants placed crudely carved hawks with outspread wings and glassy eyes on top of posts to guard their fields of maize, beans, and squash.

Japanese farmers used kakashis, which means 'something that smells badly.'  They hung old rags, meat, or fish bones from bamboo poles in their fields.  Then they lit the sticks on fire, and the smell was so bad that birds and other animals stayed away from the rice.

Centuries ago European farmers used young boys, 9 years old and older, as bird scarers or bird shooers.  The boys patrolled wheat fields carrying bags of stones.  If crows or starlings landed in the field, they'd chase them off by waving their arms and throwing the stones.  After the Great Plague killed almost half of Europe's population in 1348, landowners couldn't find enough bird scarers to protect their crops, so they stuffed sacks with straw, carved faces in turnips or gourds, and made scarecrows.

The boys, and the girls, who survived the plague and still worked as bird scarers had to patrol 2 or 3 acres by themselves.  So, instead of stones, they carried clappers made of 2 or 3 pieces of wood joined at one end.  The noise made by these clappers scared off whole flocks of birds.  Bird scarers patrolled the fields until the early 1800s when factories and mines opened and offered children better paying jobs.

Native American men sat on raised platforms and shouted if crows or woodchucks came near their corn.  Some tribes moved into huts in their fields during growing season to protect their crops. 

So, there we have it.  A glimpse into the life of the little fellow who has become our symbol for the fall harvest season.  His usefulness is no more.  Farming technology has found new ways of protecting the crops.  Yet, we keep on bringing him to life and putting him on display.  Maybe it's his humble appearance, dressed in shabby clothes stuffed with straw, that makes him a friend to all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Insurance, Insurance, and More Insurance

Life insurance, house/contents insurance, renter's insurance, auto insurance (car, pickup, RV, boat, motorcycle), dental insurance, flood insurance, pet insurance, identity theft insurance (who'd want to be me?), rest home insurance, disability insurance (movie stars insure body parts), cancer insurance, jewelry/art insurance and insurance.

Weddings, these days, are spendy events, so it only stands to reason that insurance companies would want to get a piece of the pie. 

Possible scenarios where wedding insurance might be helpful....

Let's say that the weather (snow storm, high winds, heavy rains, or other natural disaster) makes it impossible for the bridal party and guests to attend.  The band, food, cake, flowers, and photographer have to be canceled.  This is where Event Cancellation Plus is worth having.

What if the bride or groom is suddenly diagnosed with a serious illness and forces the postponement of the wedding? 

What if construction of the reception hall isn't finished on time, and the wedding has to be rescheduled?

What if the photographer's camera bag is stolen during the reception?  Video coverage helps this situation.

What if a guest accidentally spills red wine on the bride's $10,000 dress?  Wedding attire coverage will take care of this. 

What if an airline lost the luggage containing wedding gifts and wedding attire?  or the wedding gifts are stolen from the trunk of a car? Wedding gifts coverage here.

What if the wedding guests get rowdy and damage the carpet at the reception?  or the wedding couple is held responsible for other damages?  Wedding liability not a bad idea. 

What if a wedding guest falls on a slippery floor and is injured? 

A person could conjure up every possible thing that could go wrong, so where will the need for insurance stop?  The only thing I can figure is to buy a bubble and live in it.

The next problem.....

Who sells bubbles? ..........and, are they insurable?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Apple Cake and Warm Sauce

I'm pretty sure there's a squirrel inside of me.....

Got a call Saturday from a friend asking if I'd like a box of homegrown apples.  YES!  I'll stash them away in the freezer.

We aren't prone to eating ooey-gooey desserts when it's just the two of us here, but once in awhile rules should be broken.   

Not only did I bake this moist apple cake (with caramel sauce), but I peeled, cut up, and froze 16 cups of sliced apples for winter, putting 4 cups in a zip-lock bag. 

The cake is so-o-o-o moist, and the caramel sauce kicks it over the top like a field goal.  It's the down-home kind of comfort dessert that, if I was here all by myself, I could stick my face right in the pan.  Skip the fork and skip the etiquette. 

Apple Cake With Sauce

4 c. peeled, chopped apples
2 c. sugar (I used 1-1/2)
2 c. flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3/4 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In bowl, stir together apples and sugar.  Add dry ingredients and stir well.  In separate bowl, beat eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Stir egg mixture into apple mixture until thoroughly mixed and moistened.  Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan.  Bake 50 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly pressed.  Serve and drizzle the warm caramel sauce over each piece.


1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
1/2 c. evaporated milk (I used skim milk)
1 tsp. vanilla

Place all ingredients together in saucepan.  Stir.  Bring to boil over medium high heat and cook for 3 minutes.  Serve warm over apple cake.

Warning:  Serve large pieces to avoid Second-Piece Syndrome.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Haiku Poetry (5-7-5 Syllables)

One tiny flower
From one kind-hearted husband
Says it all to me.

~A haiku poem by Nature Weaver

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Quilt (author unknown)

As I faced my Maker at the last Judgment,
I knelt before the Lord along with the other souls.
Before each of us laid our lives,
like the squares of a quilt, in many piles.

An angel sat before each of us setting quilt squares together
into tapestries that represented our lives.
But, as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile,
I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was.
They were filled with giant holes.  Each square was labeled
with a part of my life that had been
difficult, the challenges and temptations
I was faced with in everyday life.
I saw hardships that I had endured,
which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me.  No one else had such squares.
Other than a tiny hole here and there,
the other tapestries were filled with rich color
and bright hues of worldly fortune.

I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened.
My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together,
threadbare and empty.
Finally, the time came when each life was to be displayed,
held up to the light.....the scrutiny of truth.
The others arose, each in turn,
holding up their tapestries.
So filled their lives had been.

My angel looked upon me,
and nodded for me to arise.
My gaze dropped to the ground in shame.
I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes.
I had had love in my life, and laughter.

I had to start over many times.
I often struggled with the temptation to quit,
only to somehow muster the strength
to pick up and begin again.
I had spent many nights on my knees in prayer,
asking for help and guidance in my life.

I had often been held up to ridicule,
which I endured painfully
each time offering it up to the Father
in hopes that I would not melt within my skin
beneath the critical gaze of those
who unfairly judged me.

And now, I had to face the truth.
My life was what it was,
and I had to accept it
for what it had been.

I arose and slowly lifted the combined squares
of my life to the light.
An awe-filled gasp filled the air.
I gazed around at the others
who stared at me with eyes wide.
Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me.
Light flooded the many holes,
creating an image.....
The Face of Christ.

Our Lord then stood before me,
with warmth and love in His eyes.
He said, "Every time you gave over your life to Me,
it became My life,
My hardships,
and My struggles.
Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside
and let Me shine through
until there was more of Me
than there was of you.

May all our quilts be threadbare and worn,
allowing Christ to shine through.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Do you Have These Personal Assets?

  • A toothbrush and toothpaste?
  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses if you need them?
  • Washer and dryer to clean your clothes?  or access to a laundry facility?
  • A flushable toilet in your home?
  • Air-conditioning to keep you safe in the blistering hot days of summer?
  • Heating to keep you safe in the bitterly cold days of winter?
  • Pain relievers (Tylenol, Advil, Aspirin, etc.) for headaches and aches and pains?
  • A cell phone that lets you communicate with others?
  • A stove or microwave oven to prepare your food?
  • Remote control for your t.v.?
  • Access to affordable education?
  • Shoes with good support for comfortable walking?
  • Access to the Internet?
  • Clothing to keep you warm and covered?
  • Food in your refrigerator?
  • Access to a doctor/hospital?
  • A source of income?
  • A comfy place to sleep?
  • A safe living space?
  • Electricity?
  • Blankets and pillows?
  • Pure water to drink?
  • A vehicle or access to public transportation?
  • Good physical and mental health, or under a doctor's care to keep you as well as you can be?
  • At least one loyal friend?
  • A shower stall or bathtub?
  • Personal items, comb, soap, shampoo?
  • A personal spiritual faith?
  • Can you walk, talk, see, hear, feel, and taste?
  • Can you read and write?
  • Do you have money in your billfold or purse?
  • Peace of mind?
  • A hobby that allows you to create something?
  • No addictions?
  • Access to affordable food?
  • A functioning mind so you can make your own choices and decisions?  
  • Do you allow yourself to love, and to be loved?
  • Friendly, caring neighbors?
  • A plate, cup, spoon, fork, and knife?
  • Do you own and allow a pet to love you unconditionally?
  • Are you able to go out and look at the sky, the trees, grass, flowers, hills, valleys, streams, lakes, and all of the physical setting in which we are privileged to live our lives?
  • A life partner to share the easy days, difficult days, and all those days in between?
  • Are you able to get up early enough to see a sunrise? 
  • Are you able to see a sunset?
Tally up the number of these personal assets you have.  The total number is the weight of your real wealth.  These are the biggies that we take for granted.  We look above and beyond them when we look at what others have and compare ourselves to them.  When others seemingly have more than we do, well, then we start doubting ourselves and wonder what we're doing wrong.

Well, the retailers want us to feel that what we already have is outdated and inadequate, and they work very hard at doing that.  They show us prettier homes and newer appliances.  We are constantly being encouraged to discard and buy new.  In this skittish time of inflated prices and stalled wages, we have got to take a step back and concentrate on what we do have, be grateful, and be satisfied.

 It sleeps so good
now that I'm out of debt!
There are millions of people just like you and me, starving, homeless, and suffering depths of despair, on other continents who consider us to be the swanky rich ones.  No matter where we are defined on the Distribution of Wealth Scale, there will be those with more and those with less.

Life has thoroughly convinced me that it can be, and is, less overwhelming when we weigh our own wealth, and not let others weigh it for us.  Being satisfied with what we have and not going in debt for more, is a simple formula for less stress.  We maybe won't 'look' rich, but we sure will 'feel' rich.  And, isn't that what it's all about?

"Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need."  ~Sarah Ban Breathnach  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Save, Save, Save!

Man alive, I can't believe how grocery prices are going up and up.  We use the flyer ads, especially for meat, and stock our freezer.  High-priced cuts and roasts come home with us only when they're at a good price.  Why pay more than is necessary?

A week ago, I watched an ordinary down-home guy (without a shopping cart), walk up and down the aisles, back and forth, and back again.  He had to be studying the prices.  He wasn't smiling.

Lucky for me that I attended a School of Finance with a financial analyst I affectionately called Mom.  Even when she was in her 80s, she could tell you within cents what her cart of groceries should cost.  She could add in her head like nobody else.  And, boy, if the checker would give her a way-higher price, the transaction came to a screeching halt and there was a price check.  Never was my analyst wrong. 

A metal coin bank, given to its bank customers, was my first banking institution.  Only the bank personnel could open it and transfer my pennies, nickels, and dimes into the savings account my parents had opened for me when I was born.  Save, save, save.  That was the mantra of my childhood.  My grampa was a regular patron of our town tavern, and he'd always offer to buy me a candy bar when I'd go to say hi to him. Candy?  Are you kidding?  I'd ask him for the money instead.  He'd shake his head wondering what was wrong with me, dig in his overall's pocket, and hand me a nickel.  When I got home, "kerplunk" the coin went in my bank.  I was 5 cents richer! 

Financial Analyst Mom knew what she was doing.  She could fix our family of four a meal using refrigerator left-overs that had us all smacking our lips.  Nothing went to waste.  Nothing.  She was Creative and Careful...the two Big C's to financial security.

As we get older, we turn into our parents.  Lord only knows how it happens, but it does.  I will always stop to pick up a penny, because in the back of my mind I can hear my analyst whispering, "Remember, honey, one penny is the first step to a hundred." 

The generation following mine didn't go to the School of Finance that I did.  They were fortunate to always have plenty, plus plenty more waiting in the background.  They had no reason to save or learn to do so.  The sky was blue, stayed blue, and only until now are the threatening dark clouds moving in.  Only the "lack" of something teaches us to be smart.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Baby Boomer Alphabet

A - is for arthritis and acid reflux
B - is for back aches and bunions
C - is for cataracts and colonoscopies
D - is for dental work and dementia
E - is for the economy that scares us half to death 
F - is for sore feet and fluid retention
G - is for gastrointestinal glitches we won't mention
H - is for high blood pressure and hip replacement
I - is for itchy skin and immunizations
J - is for painful joints and jigsaw puzzles
K - is for keister woes and knee replacement  
L - is for loss of hearing and loss of hair
M - is for memory and magnifying glasses 
N is for stiff neck and newspapers
O - is for over-the-counter pain relievers and obituaries
P - is for peeing properly and prescription drugs
Q - is for Medicare questions and quiet time
R - is for retirement and remembering 'back when'
S - is for sleep disturbances
T - is for tracking our numbers and taking our pills
U - is for using aids/devices and unwanted hair
V - is for vitamins and vodka  
W - is for weight and walking 
X - is for x-ray and x-lax
Y - is for staying young at heart
Z - is for zero zip

Ahhhhhhh, this is the best yet!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bein' Silly

Today I'm being silly, thinking about stuff we all think and wonder about.  None of it makes any sense or difference, yet it's just fun to once in awhile sit down and wonder about things. 
  • If we Americans feed our babies with tiny spoons and forks, do Chinese mothers feed their babies with toothpicks?
  • Shouldn't we be concerned that the person who invests all of our money is called a 'broker?'
  • Why don't they put parachutes under plane seats instead of flotation devices?
  • Why is it that when you transport something by car, it's called a shipment, but when you transport something by ship, it's called cargo?
  • Why do the words 'loosen' and 'unloosen' mean the same thing?
  • If you have 50 odds and ends on a shelf, and you break 49 of them, are you left with an odd or an end?
  • Why didn't Tarzan have a beard?
  • Why are boxing rings square?
  • Why do 'fat chance' and 'slim chance' mean the same thing?
  • Why is it that when lights are out, they are invisible.  But, when the stars are out, they are visible?
  • If 'poli' means 'many'.....and 'tics' are 'blood-sucking creatures,'.......then what does 'poli-tics' really mean?
  • Why do we recite at a play, and play at a recital?
  • Why, at sporting events, do we sit in stands?
  • Why is it that, when two planes almost collide, we call it a near miss?  Shouldn't it be a near hit?
  • If our country promises free speech, why do we have phone bills?
  • If you mixed vodka, orange juice and milk of magnesia, would you end up with a Phillips Screwdriver?
  • When it's dark out, why do we say it's 'after dark?'  Isn't it 'after light?'
  • Doesn't 'expecting the unexpected' make the unexpected expected?
  • Why is it good to be 'under par' in golf, but is bad to be 'under par' in anything else?
  • If every thing's possible, then is it possible that nothing is possible?
  • What's the opposite of "out of whack?"  In whack?  What is whack?
  • Do Australians call the rest of the world "up over?"
  • Why does Hawaiian pizza also contain Canadian Bacon?
  • Why are there no grapes and no nuts in Grape Nuts?
And, just for the heck of it, next time you hear someone say, "Now I've seen everything!".......ask them if they've ever seen a UPS truck parked in a parking space.............

Ta-ta for today.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Indian Summer

As long as I can remember, Indian Summer is what the old-timers called these hot days after a sharp frost.  Indian Summer is a temporary revival.  I like to think of it as Mother Nature giving us a second chance to enjoy the season.
Geography defines this time of year.  We who live in the the eastern and central United States have a lot of hardwood forests that put on a spectacular color exhibit.  Mother Nature opens her watercolor tray and mixes colors that blend into brilliant reds, oranges, rusts, yellows, browns, and golds.  It is a breathtaking time of year.  If you get a high from Nature like we do, well, this is the time of year to overdose.

And, that's exactly what we three gallivanters did yesterday.  We headed east to the secluded logging roads of a of our favorite placeS ever!  When this solitary gold leaf latched itself onto the windshield right in front of me, I figured it wanted its picture taken.

Whenever I see ferns, my mind flips back to childhood and remembers my mom's pet fern.  It stood like a leafy octopus on its special fern stand in the living room.  All households back then had fern stands for these big floppy green things that really never did anything except droop.

Midway through our drive, the hungries got to us, so hubby stopped at a tiny-town convenience store and bought us three plastic spoons and a quart of Blue Bunny I Do I Do Wedding Cake Ice Cream.  Omigod, it had strawberries, cake, and vanilla ice cream mixed together.  We sat on a picnic table along the Mighty M and had an Indian Summer picnic that rated right up there as one of our favorite picnicS ever!  The fuzzy one lapped up her portion from a margarine container that we keep in the glove compartment for just such times.

If you look close, you'll see one of the trail riders who, too, were taking advantage of this weather revival.  Outdoorsy ones were sightseeing, tenting, fishing, hiking, biking, riding horses, boating.....all with the thought that this just might be the last nice weekend of the season.

 It's refreshing to watch the pace slow down.  The horses leisurely walking through the trout stream, teaching their riders to take it slow.  When we're out on our day trips, we happen upon the friendliest people.  A group of 14 motorcycle riders stopped in one place we were, and one of the guys was taking a picture of the group.  Hubby right away offered to take the photo so the whole group could be on the picture.  They lined up their Harleys and lifted their ladies up on rocks in what had be an absolutely gorgeous photographic memory.

My bare feet had to be careful here not to slip on the mat of moss beneath them.  There was no way on this green earth that I would give up a chance to walk through these gentle Indian Summer waters. 

Ta-ta for today!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux (1863-1950)

You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle,
and that is because the Power of the World
 always works in circles,
and everything and everything tries to be round.

In the old days all our power came to us from
 the sacred hoop of the nation
 and so long as the hoop was unbroken
 the people flourished.
  The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop,
Native American Wheel
and the circle of the four quarters nourished it.
 The east gave peace and light,
 the south gave warmth,
the west gave rain,
and the north with its cold and mighty wind
 gave strength and endurance.
  This knowledge came to us from the
outer world with our religion.

Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle.
the sky is round
 and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball
and so are all the stars.
  The wind, in its greatest power, whirls.
Birds make their nests in circles,
 for theirs is the same religion as ours.
The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle.
The moon does the same and both are round.
Even the seasons form a great circle
 in their changing
 and always come back again to where they were.

The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood,
and so it is in everything where power moves.
Our tepees were round like the nests of birds,
 and these were always set in a circle,
 the nation's hoop,
a nest of many nests,
where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

October Wedding

Oh, what a purr-fect day for a wedding....sunny, breezy, leaf-strewn, and Indian Summer-y.  The Great Spirit is blessing all brides and grooms who are starting their lives together on this their wedding day.

The ceremony for one special couple begins at 2 o'clock, followed by a reception and dinner.  How I wish we could wrap up all the lessons we've learned together through the years of our marriage and give it to them as our gift!  I remember when we got married, we didn't have a clue what we were in for.  At 21, marriage looked like a soap opera, and we all know what soap operas are like.

Marriage is a give-and-take deal, with a mix of hammers and sugar cookies thrown in to keep everybody awake.  Both the guy and the gal are guaranteed of sad and difficult days while trying to save their ship from sinking.  We women are profoundly different than men, and both genders spend years struggling to figure the other one out, with absolutely not one ounce of success. 

Reaching our age and our stage, we look back with deep sighs and pats on the back for having successfully crossed all those bridges and climbed the many hills together.  There's a surprisingly sweet element to marriage that we're just now discovering for the first time in 44 years.  We've grown to be "best buds."  We rely on the other one more all the time.  Each of us has our strengths, and those strengths help fill the gaps for the other. We're finally finding out why men and women are so different.

If a couple wants to see their 50th wedding anniversary, the groom must always respect his bride, and the bride must always respect her groom.  Never allow the degrading and verbal bashing to start, because that's the first sign that the wine is turning to vinegar.

Eskimo Love Song

You are my husband, you are my wife
My feet shall run because of you
My feet dance because of you
My heart shall beat because of you
My mind thinks because of you
And I shall love, because of you.  

Friday, October 07, 2011

National Frappe Day

Frappe (pronounced 'frap') is a chilled or frozen drink.  It comes from the French word 'frapper,' which means to chill.  We usually think of frappe as a coffee drink, but it can also be made with fruit.

I came across Paula Dean's recipe for an Iced Mocha Frappe.  (I figure if Paula makes it, it's gotta be good!)

Step 1: In a pitcher, add 4 cups of brewed, hot coffee.
Step 2: To that, add 4 (1-ounce) packages of dry hot chocolate mix (3/4 cup mix) and 4 Tablespoons sugar.
Step 3: Stir until well combined.
Step 4: Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze, covered, for at least 3 hours and up to 1 week.
Step 5:  Put the frozen cubes in a blender.  Add 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and puree until smooth.
Step 6:  Divide the Frappe into glasses and top with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

Have a Happy Frappe!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Thank You, Steve Jobs

Life has no favorites, and that's evident by the untimely death of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple. Our heroes are taken first.

He is quoted as having said, "Life is an intelligent thing, that things aren't random."  The older I get, the more I agree.  Scores are evened, sooner or later.  After all these years, I now comfortably trust and rely on the Force that vigilantly tends to business, night and day, while we are preoccupied with our personal dramas.

Jobs struggled with difficult situations, like we all do.  But, he said, "I'd rather quit than change my core values."    Wow, that's a zinger!  Once we let go, or even just ease up, on our morals and our standards, we lose integrity and compromise our earthly mission. Maybe that's what America has done over the past twenty-five years.  We've loosened the reins, and the horses now are running wild, completely out of our control.  The generations before us knew that pleasure came after everything else was done.  It's sad to say, but that core value is being sorely compromised.  For America to be mired in the mess it's in right now, it's glaringly obvious that we have done something mighty backward.  I think all of us wish for a big eraser that would clean the slate and let us start over....with the core values our ancestors embraced.  

Jobs felt "We're here to put a dent in the Universe."  To leave our fingerprint.  We don't need to aspire to heights like he did.  All we need do is sprinkle and toss casual kindnesses to those we know and those we don't.

Steve's life taught him that "the most important decisions you make are not the things you do, but the things you decide not to do."  His lifestyle was simple.  "He just didn't believe in having a lot of things around, but he was incredibly careful in what he selected."  Restraint.  "It comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don't get on the wrong track or try to do too's only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important."

Thank you, Steve Jobs, for the dent you made in our world.  You have left us with your honorable principles.  By following your core values, you created a venue for learning that wraps around the world and brings us all closer together.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Tree Planting

"The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit."  ~Nelson Henderson

Young trees are vulnerable little souls, easily damaged by deer and other animals.  That's why the tree farmer puts these plastic sleeves around their tender trunks for protection.  The farmer has to periodically check to make sure the sleeves aren't too tight for the trunk as it grows.

The Sentimental Sally in me remembers the big elm tree that grew beside our old stone house on the farm.  Its roots were above ground, so I pretended the space in between the roots were separate rooms of my make-believe home where I entertained ladies in fancy dresses, serving them tea in my tin teacups that I pretended were shiny silver.  My tree was my space, and nobody bothered me there. 

Who doesn't love trees?  Squirrels use them as cupboards, birds build nests in them, kids climb on them, and dogs pee on them.  Everything on Earth that breathes depends on the oxygen they release into the air.  Trees add value to our property and provide place for us to lean back and relax when we grow weary.  Their silence nourishes our souls, and their perseverance and strength teaches us how to stand tall in all kinds of weather.

While hubby was checking out a fishing hole in one of our nearby rivers, I stayed in the car with the fuzzy one.  This big old tree was close by.  A tree fairy urged me to save the moment, and I obeyed.  Such a regal tree, out in the middle of nowhere.  But, in the tree's youth, it, too, was a slender and vulnerable bit of a thing. The years passed, it weathered harsh storms, and all the while its trunk grew wider and sturdier to sustain the weight of its growing responsibilities.  The tree fairy was trying to tell me something.  How silly of us human beings to judge ourselves through the eyes of vanity.  To the tree, a good foundation is critical.  Why should we be any different?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Day on the Mighty Mississippi

Twenty-four hours ago we were loading the boat with fishing poles, tackle box and cooler.  The temperature was October outstanding, so we decided to hit the road and head for The Mighty Mississippi.

The waters of the Mighty M are low now, but we carefully squirmed our boat to back waters where we caught a nice bunch of bluegill and crappie.  Of course, our hooks and lines got snagged in the branches beneath the water, but that's one of the 'hangups' of fishing.  I just think it would have to be a hoot to see all the costly Cabela's lures dangling down there never to be used again!   

Our day on the river wasn't only about fishing. The flag reaching to the sky on top of this bluff speaks of public allegiance to America.  Not only does one see a sacred blend of the spiritual and the patriotic here, but feels it in the heart and soul.  It feels good....really good. 

Two barges and their tugboats were on the channel, so we slowed down to watch them go under a bridge and around a sharp river turn.

I could never understand why we call them 'tugboats' when they push and maneuver.  But, I come to find that tugboats were originally used to help sailing ships get into and out of harbors when the wind was weak or in the wrong direction. In order to do this, they had to tug.

We here in the Midwest take water transportation for granted because we're used to seeing barges go up and down the river moving our grain.  We forget its energy-efficient impact on our economy and environment.  A single barge holds as much cargo as 15 rail cars or 60 semi trailer trucks.  Statistics show that one barge can move one ton of cargo 576 miles on a gallon of fuel, while a truck can only move that ton 155 miles on one gallon.   

"The world has a thousand creeds, and never a one have I;
Not a church of my own, though a million spires are pointing the way on high.
But I float on the bosom of faith, that bears me along like a river.
And the lamp of my soul is alight with love for life, and the world, and the Giver."
~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Monday, October 03, 2011

What Would We Do Without Towels?

  • The terry cloth bath towel dries and covers after we bathe.
  • The colorful beach towel wipes sand off of us and gives us something to lay on. 
  • The paper towel, the perforated one, is used once and thrown away.
  • The 'good towels' aren't used, but are strictly for bathroom decor.
  • The gym towel wipes sweat.
  • Dish towels dry dishes.
  • Tea towels dry expensive china tea sets.
  • Bar towels assist the bartender in keeping the bar clean.
  • Barbers use steamed towels before giving a shave.
  • Towel Animal
  • Cruise ship workers create towel animals and leave them on the guests' freshly-made bed.
  • Remember towel snapping as a kid?
  • Women wrap towel turbans around their wet heads.
  • A towel sling serves a sore arm.
  • The boxer's towel, thrown in the ring, admits his defeat.
  • Massage towels maintain modesty during  rub-downs.
  • FYI:  Hotel towels now have RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags in them. 

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Quick Slick Calculator Trick









Saturday, October 01, 2011

Simple Celebration

History repeated itself. Yesterday's weather was exactly as it was in 1967.  Sunshine, cool air, blue skies, crisp leaves carpeting the ground.....loveliness everywhere.

Roses on an Amish farm
We filled our anniversary with a highway venture to the Amish country.  Pork tenderloins at a small cafe sounded appealing to both of us for lunch, and we splurged with mounds of crispy golden-brown french fries on the side.  We ordered 'em 'well done' cuz there's nothing less appetizing than limpy wimpy fries that refuse to dip into a puddle of ketchup.

Beauty of the Bluffs

"I wish they'd hurry up!"
Being it was Friday, we hit town-wide garage sales in one of the towns we passed through.......oooooh, did we have fun.  The fuzzy one went along, and she waited in the car while we scanned the sale tables and racks.  She's accustomed to the routine and doesn't put up a fuss.  Since she was a puppy, we've told her "we'll be right back," and she understands what that means.

We took New York Strips out of the freezer for supper, stopped at Kwik Star for baking potatoes, to have with stuffed acorn squash from our garden  Yowza, how good was that.  Today we are joining family for a special dining experience at a Japanese Restaurant to celebrate our anniversary, brother's anniversary, and niece's birthday.  October is starting out with fireworks!

I see the frost fairies were dancing during the night hours.  Nature keeps right on working at the easel while we snooze, creating surprises for us when we wake up.  Our morning is quiet.  I look out our front door and watch a single leaf float down from its parent tree.  It's difficult to imagine that parts of the world are at war right this minute.  I wish I could offer those suffering ones a slice of my morning's peace, but I shall offer a compassionate prayer instead.

"There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir,
We must rise and follow her.
When from every hill of flame,
She calls and calls each vagabond by name."
~William Bliss Carman