Monday, April 30, 2012

Haiku Poem

Last day of April, and I've been remiss in acknowledging National Poetry Month.  

The Haiku Japanese poem (5-7-5 syllable) is probably my favorite to write.  I don't adhere to academia's rules of poetry, simply because I write for fun.  If it comes from my heart and my head, then it's mine and the way it's gonna be. In all honesty, I'm finding naughtiness to be more fun than niceness in more venues of life. Why dance the two-step when the one-step will do.  I'm either becoming that crotchety old lady or reverting back to my childhood bratty-ness.

My Poem  

Walking down the steps
The sound of coffee perking.
Favorite cup waits.

Thoughts of what to write
An idea flashes through.
Grab it quick I must.

Raindrops fall and drip
A clap of thunder strikes close.
Home and soul make love.

Doors are locked up tight
Life's miseries keeping out.
Rain, rain, rain all day.

One sentence written
A paragraph, then two more.
Fingers race and chase.

Type, delete, edit.
Emphasize and underscore.
Add a picture, too.

Blogging is my joy
Writer I wanted to be.
Thank you, World Wide Web.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Dream

William Dement said, "Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives."

Last night's dream was a doozy and is still ablaze this morning.  My dream took me on a tour overseas, but I don't know where.....

  • Why wouldn't my clothes fit in the suitcase?  I folded, re-folded, and then finally wrapped a belt around it so it wouldn't pop open and all my clothes fall out.  I was completely frazzled before getting myself to the airport. 
  • Our tour group was going out for dinner one night, and I didn't bring my black dress pants.  Why didn't I bring them?    
  • When our tour was over and time to head home, I struggled to fit my clothes back into three suitcases.  Piles of clothes stared at me from the hotel bed, and I couldn't figure out where they all came from.   
  • One of my traveling companions spotted our blue plastic turkey baster in my suitcase...the kind you squeeze to suck up juices and then drizzle over the turkey.  I was so embarrassed I couldn't even look at her.  What on earth could have possessed me to bring that dumb thing along?
  • My co-travelers packed their stuff with ease and left me alone in the hotel room to finish packing.  They didn't want to miss the plane back home.
  • Two pieces of my underwear absolutely would not fit in the big suitcase, so I tied them together and onto the handle of my suitcase.
  • The male pilot and female flight attendant came to the hotel room to tell me to hurry so I wouldn't miss the plane like I did when we were in France.
  • Once they got me on the plane, I realized I left in such a rush that my best grey vest and eyeglasses were left on the hotel bed.  I could feel the plane starting to move.
  • The co-pilot let me sit on his lap for the flight back home.
There you have it.  A glimpse into my silent insanity.  No way am I going to attempt to interpret it, cuz I don't want to know the implications.  I'll simply let the dream turn into stardust, and then I'll suck it up with my turkey baster!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Let's Thank One Another

"Think to Thank.
In these three words are the finest capsule course
 for a happy marriage,
formula for enduring friendship,
and a pattern for personal happiness."
~Thomas S. Monson

"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life
 is 'thank you,'
 it will be enough."
~Meister Eckhardt

"If you haven't all the things you want,
 be grateful for the things you don't have that you wouldn't want."
~Author Unknown

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.
  It is then burst into flame by an encounter
 with another human being.
  We should all be thankful for those people 
who rekindle the inner spirit."
  ~Albert Schweitzer

"To live a life of gratitude is to open our eyes
 to the countless ways in which we are supported
 by the world around us.
  Such a life provides less space for our suffering, 
because our attention is more balanced. 
 We are more often occupied with noticing what we are given, 
thanking those who have helped us,
 and repaying the world in some concrete way for 
what we are receiving."
  ~Gregg Krech

"You say grace before meals.  All right. 
 But, I say grace before the concert and the opera,
 and grace before the play and pantomime,
 and grace before I open a book,
 and grace before sketching, painting, swimming,
 fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and
 grace before I dip the pen in the ink."
  ~G.K. Chesterton

"The unthankful heart...discovers no mercies; 
but let the thankful heart sweep through the day,
 and, as the magnet finds the iron, 
so it will find, in every hour,
 some heavenly blessings! 
 ~Henry Ward Beecher

"The world has enough beautiful mountains and meadows,
 spectacular skies and serene lakes. 
 It has enough lush forests, flowered fields and sandy beaches.
  It has plenty of stars and the promise of a new sunrise and sunset every day. 
 What the world needs more of is people
 to appreciate and enjoy it." 
 ~Michael Josephson

Thank you with all my heart for reading my blogs.  
Your heart and my heart shall forever be connected. 
 ~Nature Weaver

Friday, April 27, 2012

Junk Mail


  • More than 100 BILLION pieces of junk mail fill our mailboxes every year.  
  • This figures out to be 900 pieces per household.
  • The junk mail enterprise unnecessarily destroys 100 million trees per year.
  • Junk mail is one of the major contributors to climate change.
  • Junk mail produces more than 51 million metric tons of greenhouses gases each year.....equal to more than 9 million passenger cars, firing 11 coal power plants, combining emissions of 11 states, mowing more than 20 billion lawns, driving nearly 5 million school buses, and heating nearly 13 million homes.
What's the solution?

Most of the unsolicited mail we receive has a return address on the envelope.  All we have to do is cross out our name and write "return to sender," and politely send it back. The company ends up paying the return postage, and we all know they aren't going to want to keep that up.

Consider this ridiculous scenario.......

1.  A company pays the U.S. Postal Service postage so it can send junk mail.
2.  An employee of that company is paid to deposit the junk in a post office receptacle.
3.  The U.S. Postal Service flies by plane or drives by truck the same junk mail to be delivered to its recipient.
4.  Another postal employee sorts through and places the junk mail in our mail box.
5.  We, in turn, find the unwanted mail cluttering our mail box.
and, here's the real real kicker.....
6.  The U.S. Postal Service provides the cardboard waste basket in which to dispose of it.

And, we're letting our forests be ripped out so this senseless cycle can continue?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

We Gotta Laugh at Life

Marvin was in the hospital on his death bed. The family called Marvin's preacher to be with him in his final moments.  As the preacher stood by the bed, Marvin's condition seemed to deteriorate, and Marvin motioned for someone to quickly pass him a pen and paper.  The preacher quickly got a pen and paper and lovingly handed it to Marvin.  But, before he had a chance to read the note, Marvin died.

The preacher, feeling that now wasn't the right time to read it, put the note in his jacket pocket.  It was at the funeral while speaking that the preacher suddenly remembered the note.  Reaching deep into his pocket, the preacher said, "And, you know what, I just remembered that right before Marvin died, he handed me a note.  Knowing Marvin well, I'm sure it was something inspiring that we can all gain from."

With that introduction, the preacher ripped out the note and opened it.  The note said, "HEY, YOU ARE STANDING ON MY OXYGEN TUBE!"


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Easy Microwave Rhubarb Sauce

Only two of the five rhubarb plants back of the house survived the years.  Our household is split when it comes to eating rhubarb...one likes things tart, the other likes things sweet.  This Simple Microwave Sauce is how we are able to satisfy the one of us and spare the other.

2 cups rhubarb stems, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar, OR 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Red food coloring (optional)
Dash of cinnamon (optional)

1.  Put the chopped rhubarb and salt together in a glass baking dish.  Cover and microwave for 2 minutes.  Take out and stir.

2.  Add the brown OR white sugar.  Stir.  Cover again.  Microwave for two more minutes and then take out.  Stir it once more.

3.  Cover the dish.  Microwave for 2 more minutes to finish your rhubarb sauce.  Add a dash of cinnamon and stir, if desired.  If you'd prefer this sauce to be red, just add a few drops of red food coloring and stir.

4.  Serve warm over ice cream, on toast, muffins, waffles, cakes, and even on pork chops.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Morel Mushrooms and Deer Ticks

Morel Mushrooms
Tis the season for hunting these delicious bits of fungus in places where the dead elms lay....and then boastfully returning to town with an "I've got a secret" attitude.

Not so with two young "shoomers" who shared their discovery with us day before yesterday.  Hubby and the fuzzy one were out in our yard when a pickup stopped at the sidewalk.  A young couple, who live down the street from us, asked if we like morels.  Knowing his wife would probably pee in her pants to get some, hubby said sure.  He came walking in the house holding his baseball cap plump full of these 'shooms.

My family hunted morels in our farm timber every spring, and the way we liked fixing them best was with scrambled eggs.  It was our house rule to clean and boil them before frying.  Daddy insisted we boil the grit out of their honeycomb tops before putting them on the table.

That reminds me of eating pheasants and squirrels when we were kids.  We were warned to watch out for BB's so we wouldn't bite into one and break off a tooth.  Eating food from the wild has its perils and precautions... another one is taking care not to get a fish bone stuck in one's throat.  We kept slices of bread on the table when we ate fish, just in case one of us did.  The bread, when swallowed, was the best way to dislodge a bone.

Hubby cooked his capful of morels to perfection, scrambling them in eggs just for me.  The capful shrunk down to a fraction in size, but I shut my eyes and made the most of their distinctive taste.  It's that business of less is more.

What a thoughtful gesture for a young couple to share their woodsy adventure with us, an older couple, who probably won't be tromping through the woods anymore looking for the morels.  The amount of deer ticks in the woods this year is probably the main reason we don't care to go.  In fact, hubby noticed a deer tick crawling on the guy's shirt collar.  My guess that is that if there was one tick on him, there were more frantically looking for a fleshy place to attach.

Deer Tick
It's that darned Lyme Disease that deer ticks spread.  The disease is named for a town in Connecticut named Lyme.  In 1975, an outbreak of juvenile arthritis cases was discovered to be caused by a tick-born infection.  Deer ticks are about the size of a sesame seed, and their back ends are a reddish color and their legs blackish.  They feed on the blood of white-tailed deer, and that's why they're called deer ticks.

Early symptoms of Lyme disease are so much like the flu, it's hard to recognize.  Usually the first clue is a slow-spreading bull's-eye-type rash where the tick attached.  If not treated with antibiotics, other health problems can develop....like facial paralysis, sore joints, really bad headaches, heart palpitations, and other neurological changes and disorders.  In other words, it's nasty.

We're very watchful that the fuzzy one doesn't pick up any kind of tick.  We pet owners must use tick prevention and tick-killing products to keep our little sweethearts healthy.  They are completely defenseless in these matters without our help.  It's that business of do unto others.

Monday, April 23, 2012

City Girl Goes Farming

Nancy, a city girl, married a farmer.  One morning, before the farmer went out to the field, he said, "Honey, today the artificial insemination man is coming over to impregnate one of the cows.  I put a nail in a two-by-four over the cow's stall.  Please show him which one it is."

When the guy arrived, Nancy led him down the row of stalls until she saw the nail.  She pointed to the stall, and he asked her, "Are you sure this is the one?"

"Yes, I'm sure.  It's the one with the nail," said Nancy.

"What's the nail for?" asked the man.

"I guess it's to hang your pants on," replied Nancy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hair Cuts and Garage Sales

Yesterday all three of us got spiffed up.  I gave hubby a haircut at home, my locks got chopped off at the salon, and the fuzzy one got a pedicure and a bath from her daddy.  Bathing her is something he takes care of, always has since she was a puppy.  The two of them close the bathroom door, and the splish splashing begins.  Other than when we listen to the oldies in the car, this is the only time my husband sings.

Garage sales are springing up like wildflowers this weekend.  We took in a few yesterday, and I applaud myself for being selective.  My best buy was a pair of light blue crocs for $2.  They're nicely broken in, but have a lot of steps left in them.  One trip through a sudsy washing cycle, and they'll be just right.

Fuzzy One's Life Jacket
Our other purchase was a life jacket for the fuzzy one.  Migod, how cute.  We're hoping to spend time on the river and lakes this summer, and we thought it might be 'parental' if we had a jacket for her, too.  For a buck, how could we go wrong.

Garage sales are fun, plus good exercise getting in and out of the car.  I'm such a dork sometimes.  I was in such a hurry to get to one of the sales, that I left the car door open behind me.  Right then I glanced back and caught that quizzical expression that comes to hubby's face on rare occasions when he sees something really amazing.  Hmmmmm.  Come to think of it, I've been noticing that look on him quite a few times lately.

Even though all three of us were groomed and ready for viewing, we stayed home ate taco salads for supper, and watched t.v.  We hung a new-to-us, 50-cent butterfly decoration on the front of our house, pulled the blinds, and filed another day away.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Should Senior Drivers Take A Yearly Driving Test?

That's Yahoo's voting question of the day.

Of the 162,672 who voted...
64% said, 'Yes, it's for everyone's safety.'
36% said, 'No, they shouldn't be singled out.'

My question to this question is:  "what defines senior drivers?"  Is it anyone over 18, 25, 40, 55, 65, 75, 85, 90, 95, 100, or 105?    

We live in a small rural town with no stop lights.  Only stop signs.  Our house sits on a 4-way stop intersection.  Every single day, every day of the week, we watch drivers of all ages (in cars, pickups, semis, on tractors and motorcycles) skate non-stop through the stop signs.  This is the same place young mothers pushing baby strollers gather to chat about motherhood, little kids scamper holding puppy leashes and riding tricycles.  One of these days someone will get hurt, or worse.

All age groups violate our driving laws.  If the majority of American citizens feel that we seniors should be required to take a yearly driving test, then everyone should.  Do we want to teach our kids that they will become lesser Americans as they get older?

Maybe instead of focusing on senior drivers, someone should take a close look at the illegal drivers on our roadways, who (1) aren't able to read the road signs; (2) have never been tested for a license;  (3) can't possibly know the rules of the road; (4), have no license plates on their bumpers; and (5) are driving without insurance coverage in the event of an accident.

Here's my rebuttal question of the day...

If I'm a senior driver having taken the test, have a valid license, a license plate on my car, and full-coverage insurance.....and have an accident with an illegal driver who isn't able to read road signs, has never taken a driver's test, has no license and no car insurance........will I, the senior, be the first suspected to be at fault?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What Really Matters

Rain has moved into our part of the state, and we've turned on the lamps.  It's cozy in here watching the rain drops fall and drip a curtain over the windows.  I don't know why it is, but rainy days move me to think deeper than when the sun shines.

~Author Not Known

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Broken Heart and Monkey Bread

Today our great-niece is driving over to spend part of the day with us.  She has three days off...today, Thursday, and Friday...and she let us pick which day worked best.

This little sweetheart was born with a heart condition that resulted in four open-heart surgeries and far too much of her childhood being spent in the hospital.  Her heart's wiring was a huge interest to the medical field, and a doctor out east wrote and published an article about her in a medical journal.  We tease that she was a centerfold from day one.

That was 23 years ago.  Her life has been terribly hard.  Besides fighting for her own survival, she tragically  lost her only sibling.  She forges through her days like a soldier, works a full-time job for one of the top convenience store chains, maintains her own apartment, and baffles Mayo cardiologists. Her heart isn't fixed by any means, but it's the best it can be with present-day medical knowledge and treatment.

So, today she and I are going to have fun in my kitchen.  We're going to make monkey bread.  I figure it's appropriate cuz I've always teased her that our family is a bunch of monkeys.  In fact, I'm able to replicate the screech of a monkey so well that I scare myself.

This is the recipe we'll use......

2 loaves of frozen bread dough
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 T. cinnamon
1-1/2 stick butter

Put frozen bread dough in the refrigerator the night before.  Take out in the morning.  Pinch the dough in small pieces, roll in melted butter and then in the sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Place pieces of dough in layers.  You can add nuts if you want.  Cover and set on stove top until it doubles in size.  Bake 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until brown.  Turn pan upside down and let cool.
  ~Dig in!

Spending fun time with another person is our #1 blessing.  Nothing compares.  It's an opportunity to pass on a simple recipe, share a skill or hobby, act silly, and simply let that other person know they will forever live deep inside our heart.

Oh, I spent many an hour and many a day sitting beside this little girl's bedside, watching and praying, comforting and praying some more.  She's our shining star, and only the Great Spirit can feel the joy that this day holds for me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Apple Crisp vs. Apple Pie

This time of year we think about cleaning out the freezers and making room for a new year's bountiful harvest.  In the fall, we have a secret apple tree on public ground where we pick enough apples to peel, cut up, and measure into 4-cup zip-lock baggies for wintertime desserts.  The apples from this tree are medium tart and ideal for baking a luscious crisp.

The double-crusted apple pie is one of America's favorites, along with baseball and the Chevrolet, don't they say.  Well, nutritional experts have stepped into the picture and warn that pie crusts are culprit carriers of the caloric bacteria.  So, that's why we lean toward baking the apple crisp instead of the pie....and we tell ourselves we're watching our weight.....and we tell ourselves we're lowering our cholesterol by eating oatmeal....and we tell ourselves cinnamon is good for us.....and the apples will keep the doctor away.

All of us have a favorite cookbook, the one we reach for first.  If yours is like mine, it's got ring stains and other marks of use, but these add character and substance and make it more desirable to the next generation.  They're the fingerprints of a good cook, I always say.

Right out of the oven
A couple days ago we brought up two bags of these apples from the basement freezer.  Hubby asked if I'd like to throw together a crisp.  Sure, that was easy to incorporate into my schedule.  It's a yummy crisp that calls for ingredients already in the cupboard, and I'd like to share it......

Apple Crisp  
8 cups diced apples
1/2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 T. lemon juice

TOPPING:
1 stick butter
1 c. flour
1 c. oatmeal
1 c. brown sugar

Toss apples in flour, sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice mixture.  Put into a baking dish.

Topping:  Mix softened butter, flour, brown sugar and oatmeal until crumbly.  Pour over apples and pack to seal edges.  Bake 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until topping is crispy golden brown.

Serve warm with ice cream and watch it get oozy and goozy and slurpy good!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Carriers.....Not Barriers

Around 10 o'clock this morning, the high winds knocked out the electricity where we live. Within seconds we were awakened to the luxuries of electricity......coffee pot for our morning kick, laptop to write my daily blog, microwave to warm cold coffee......

Goody gumdrops that a friend loaned me the book "The Hunger Games," by Suzanne Collins.  I compensated by pulling the lever on the recliner, pushing it back as far as it would go, and started reading the paperback that came highly recommended.

Sometimes we simply have to be willing and able to adjust our sails to the directions of the wind.  None of us knows where the next minute will take us, bring to us, or take away from us, so it's good logic we have something else at the ready.  Life has, not so gently, taught me to recognize these unexpected and so-called barriers to in reality be the carriers of the perfect cargo for the perfect day.

The electricity is back on, this blog is short, and I have a book to read.    Ta-ta.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Tussie Mussie and the Language of Flowers

Mother Nature brought out her watering can last night.  Now the grass is greener than green and the tulips along a neighbor's house are seemingly standing straighter.

Our Creator knew right off the bat that we humans were going to require parts of nature to be colorful and fragrant, so he designed the mighty flower kingdom.  I'm pretty sure He knew we would have to have a few visible hints to truly believe there is a place called Heaven.

During Queen Victoria's reign in England (1837-1901), society was ever so prim and proper in dress, manners, and all sorts of etiquette.  Flowers were used to decorate clothing, hair, dining table centerpieces, and were hand-painted on their fragile china tableware.  Flowers were even used to send messages, and this became known as Floriography.  Each flower, or herb, was given a significant meaning.....a way to convey an emotion to someone without saying a word.  Of course, rules of etiquette governed this, as well.  For instance, a flower offered with the right hand meant "yes," and offering a flower with the left hand meant "no."  

The Tussie-Mussie, or hand-held bouquets, were popular during the Victorian era.  These were flowers wrapped in a cone-shaped lace doily or some other material and tied with a bow of satin.  This custom, like all human interactions, required careful thought in the selection of the right flower on the giver's part. There were dozens of floral dictionaries in circulation at the time, and one can only speculate the number of times a flower message was misinterpreted.

Our society today still uses Floriography.  The red rose is the universal way of expressing love, asking forgiveness, or offering sympathy in time of sorrow.  The humble pansy is the epitome of friendship, and the herb Basil means, "I wish you the very best!"

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Garage Sale Cake Pan

There it was in big red letters................GARAGE SALE, with an arrow pointing to the driveway on the right.  My brain quickly warned, "No, just keep going," but my heart stilled me to silence.  A farm garage filled with tables of neatly arranged hand tools, household miscellany, toys that still looked like new, boxes of Reader's Digest hardcover books, and the expected mishmash of oddities.  As I ambled table to table, Connie Conscience started harping, "Don't buy a thing.....remember, you're clearing the attic and getting rid of stuff.....why would you bring home more debris!"

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most effective, my willpower teeters and totters at 2.  The narrow cake pan with Norwegian Almond Cake recipe taped to it for $2 was more than I could resist.  I picked it up, studied its possibilities and could easily envision me passing plates of white almond cake to our guests and ceremoniously unveiling the history of the cake pan.

(24 hours later)

A-a-a-a-a-a-h-h-h.....our house smells almondy....the first Norwegian Almond Cake to ever grace our home is cooling on the kitchen island.  Instructions say to leave it in the pan to cool, or it will break apart. Making it was a joint effort, one measured the flour while the other sprayed the pan, one broke the egg while the other got the milk from the fridge.

There are three lessons here...

1.  Our conscience doesn't always know what's best for us.
2.  There's a whole lot of uncomplicated fun waiting to be had.....it's up to us to look for it and set it into motion.
3.  The seed of a good time is most likely found in the most unlikely place.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy Birthday To My Pen Pal

Having a pen pal for over 45 years...
is a mighty fine reason for
 both of us to celebrate today!  


Yesterday we spotted the first patch of spring Virginia Bluebells.  Knowing I wouldn't be able to hand you a bouquet of wildflowers across the miles, you're being handed this digital bouquet instead.....


April Bluebells
Love always from me to you.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lesson From the Lamprey

The guys went fishing for red horse and suckers yesterday.  They had good luck, bringing home about twenty 4-5 pounders for pickling.

While the guys were back of our house scaling and cleaning them, I was in the house putting together a 250-piece mosaic computer jig-saw puzzle on www.thejigsawpuzzles.com.  The puzzle pieces are cut in odd shapes and sizes, different than the usual jig-saw pieces that fit together.  Our backdoor opened, and hubby called in to me, "You gotta come out here and look at something."

Attached to one of the fish was this fiercely wiggling thing about 8 inches long.  Black in color, it was nasty.  Real nasty.  Even the guys were turned off by what we agreed looked like a lamprey.  I went back in the house to my computer and Googled the lamprey, and sure enough, that's what it was.  Ug...lee.

Lamprey attached to fish
We got the camera and snapped a picture, but it didn't turn out very good.  When the guys pulled it off the fish, they tried getting rid of it.  It was like wrestling the devil.  The more they tried, the more it fought.  In order to dispose of the slimy creature, they wrapped it in newspaper and lit it on fire.  There was no way a horrid thing like that was going to stick around and make its way into our local river.

Lampreys are 'harmful hitchikers' that attach themselves to other fish and suck on their blood and body fluids.  They leave round scars on the fish.  They are remnants of an ancient family of boneless and jawless fish that were here before the dinosaurs, some 400 to 500 million years ago.

Usually I can find something positive to say about all things in nature, but the lamprey is an exception.  I'd be hard pressed to identify one thing in its favor.  I debated with myself whether or not to write about it, but then I decided it would be wrong not to.  After all, nature is nature, and if it's part of nature, it's part of all of us.

I learned a lesson from the lamprey.  Life situations sometimes get such a grip on us that they suck the blood out of us, and we weaken and we struggle.  What we have to do is detach ourselves and get rid of those harmful hitchhikers that suck the life right out of us.  Just like the lamprey, our troubles are hard to get rid of.  Maybe what we have to do is mentally wrap our burdens in newspapers and set them on fire.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Shoppers Be Wise

Last night's frost was not a good thing for the patches of wildflowers that we're seeing in the country landscape.  The first flowers of spring are dainty.  Mother Nature sends her little darlings out to announce that She's switching the seasons.  I sure hope the little sweethearts are tough and resilient to the blanket of ice crystals that were laid over them.

A friend stopped over yesterday for a visit.  He asked us if we had noticed the price of watermelons in the grocery store.  We hadn't, so he shocked us with a price tag of $11 for a medium watermelon and $6 for a smaller half melon.

Going to the grocery store is getting more and more challenging.  Beware of the sale ads that come to us in the mail.  They are loaded with new-fangled retail tricks that can be very confusing to those of us without mathematical brains.  One needs to keep the calculator close by to figure out which is the best deal for the customer and which is the best deal for the retailer.

With prices going up, money will get tighter and our budgets get more difficult to manage. For a fun experiment, for one month keep your grocery receipts.  Go through them and write down money spent on "essential buys" and on "impulse buys."  Milk and bread are essentials, but the bag of chips is not.  At the end of the month, tally up the two categories to reveal your family's shopping tendencies.  It's worth the effort to do this.

A few things to be mindful of when spending our hard-earned money......
  1.  Be careful of Going Out of Business bargains.  A close-out sale may look like a good deal, but the prices may be jockeyed around and actually marked up so the sale price is regular price or even higher.
  2. Have you noticed how the contents have been reduced?  The pound of bacon is now 12 ounces, coffee is no longer 36 ounces, and take a look at the jars of peanut butter.  Some jars are being made with a bigger dip in the bottom so the jar looks the same, price is the same, but the amount of peanut butter you're getting is less.  
  3. Retailers put an item on sale, but when you get to the store they're all sold out.  This is done deliberately.  Their main goal is to get us in their store.  Once we're there, more than likely we'll settle for another brand at full price.  Ask for a rain check.  
  4. Watch the check-out carefully.  If an item comes up on screen at a price other than what you intended to pay for it, call a halt and ask for a price check.  This happens routinely, and for heaven's sake don't feel embarrassed to do this.  Every 50-cent overcharge adds up after awhile and can blindly kick the family budget way off kilter.  
  5. Shopping carts are getting bigger.  Studies have proven that shoppers buy more with bigger carts than with smaller carts.
  6. Rebates are a good deal, but more than $500 million in rebates go unclaimed each year.  I'm guilty of this myself.  I put the receipt along with the rebate in my bill-paying tray, only to find it expired when I go to mail it in.  
  7. We consumers pay double the cost for pre-cut vegetables.  
  8. According to research, there's a 1,300% markup on a tub of buttered popcorn at the movies.  If we pay $5.50 for the bucket of popcorn, that makes an ounce of popcorn more expensive than a filet mignon.
  9. The general rule of thumb is that brand name over-the-counter medications cost 30-50% more than a generic brand.  Compare the active ingredients in both, and if they're the same, going with generic may save a few bucks.
  10. Organic produce comes at a 30-50% higher price.  Each consumer has to decide if organic is worth the price difference and go from there.
  11. Drinking one cup of coffee a day at home rather than buying it out can save $438 a year.
So far, we've not been able to find the packet of seeds that will grow a tree of dollar bills in our back yard.  Until we do, we're going to keep sharp eyes out for, and one step ahead of, the tricks and traps that are set in the merchandising arenas.  If prices keep going north, I'm stubborn enough to say to heck with an $11 watermelon.  Half the time the melons aren't as sweet and crispy delicious as they used to be anyway. Bottom line:  we all have to spend according to the family income.    

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tracks of Time

Raccoon Tracks in Cement
Walking on a cemented trail is where we came across these raccoon tracks.  Ricky was either mad at the cement layers for messing with his path, or he wanted to leave his prints behind for me to write about.

As this picture shows, when raccoon walk, they use the whole sole of their foot, heel to toe, the same as we humans walk.  Their front and back foot prints are uniquely different.

Hi, I'm Ricky the Raccoon
Their front paws work like our hands, which lets them take hold of, and open, zippers and purses, remove the laces from shoes, untie knots, turn door knobs, and open jars.  The raccoon, the ape and the dolphin, are the only known creatures to share our human ability to recognize their reflection in a mirror.  They're clever, curious, and intelligent animals.

Human Tracks in Cement
Walking on freshly poured cement has intrigue for humans, too. Guess walking in wet cement is no different than carving initials in a tree trunk or a rock cliff.  We all want to leave behind visible proof that we were here.

My non-concrete way of thinking leads me to wonder if evolution is for real, then why would it stop?  Doesn't it make sense that the human is still evolving into something different than what we are today?  Why do we get so excited when something like autism gets more and more common?  Might it simply be part of the evolutionary process?

I can't help but wonder what the human foot print will look like 50,000 years from now...a million years from now.  What did Adam's foot print look like?  If he didn't have any shoes, then his foot prints should still be in the Garden of Eden, shouldn't they?    


Groucho Marx, the comedian, said this....


 "I don't have a photograph,
 but you can have my footprints.
  They're upstairs in my socks."

Monday, April 09, 2012

Sunday, April 08, 2012

A Fairy Story

ONCE UPON A TIME there was a good old woman who lived in a little house.  She had in her garden a bed of beautiful striped tulips.


One night she was awakened by the sounds of sweet singing and of babies laughing.  She looked out of the window.  The sounds seemed to come from the tulip bed, but she could see nothing.


The next morning she walked among her flowers, but there were no signs of anyone having been there the night before.


On the following night she was again wakened by sweet singing and babies laughing.  She rose and stole softly through her garden.  The moon was shining brightly on the tulip bed, and the flowers were swaying back and forth.  The old woman looked closely and she saw, standing by each tulip, a little Fairy mother who was singing and rocking the flower like a cradle, while in each tulip-cup lay a little Fairy baby laughing and playing.


The good old woman stole quietly back to her house, and from that time on she never picked a tulip, nor did she allow her neighbors to touch the flowers.


The tulips grew daily brighter in color and larger in size, and they gave out a delicious perfume like that of roses.  They began, too, to bloom all the year round.  And every night the little Fairy mothers caressed their babies and rocked them to sleep in the flower-cups.  


The day came when the good old woman died, and the tulip-bed was torn up by folks who did not know about the Fairies, and parsley was planted there instead of the flowers.  But the parsley withered, and so did all the other plants in the garden, and from that time nothing would grow there.


But the good old woman's grave grew beautiful, for the Fairies sang  above it, and kept it green; while on the grave and all around it there sprang up tulips, daffodils, and violets, and other lovely flowers of spring.  ~Author Unknown


Saturday, April 07, 2012

If You Could Wish For Any Talent, What Would It Be?

A concert pianist.

My soul feels Heaven when it hears music of the ivory keys.  No one will ever know how I wish I would have continued playing the piano.  At age 14, I entered high school and worked weekends, and that was when the departure took place.  Good grades didn't come easy.  Late night studying didn't leave time for practicing the piano, and I needed to make the honor roll.

My one wish in the whole world would be for a fairy godmother to tap me on the shoulder with her magic wand and whisk me magically off to Carnegie Hall.  I picture myself wearing a long black dress as I enter the grand hall to take a seat at a classical piano concert.  Maybe I'd even wear a sparkly bracelet!

Little girl wishes never go away.  They just get bigger.  Little boy wishes are the same way.  The other day we were on a day drive when hubby spotted a bright red hot rod sitting in a store parking lot.  He got out to look at the inside and admire the outside.  His little boy wish is to own a hot rod.

Wishes are good, even though we realistically know that they aren't going to come true.  They make us reach higher, I think.  It's intriguing to me why we are wired with the ability to wish in the first place.  Are we the only creatures who wish?  Gosh, I never thought about that before.  Hmmmmm.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Kindness Can Change the World

The next couple of days will be all about filling pastel baskets with green plastic grass, dyed eggs, chocolate bunnies, Peeps, and Cadbury Eggs.  Families will drive distances to gather together for ham dinners to celebrate the Christian holiday that symbolizes new life and hope.

Besides all the hoopla tradition tells us to do, we need to be kind, respectful, polite, and courteous to one another.  This is far more important than the food we serve or the size of the baskets we give the kids.  

The other day we were going into a Kohl's Store.  My hubby opened the door for two ladies who were probably in their 70's.  The one lady looked at me and said, "Your husband just opened the door for us.  You'd better hang on to him tight, cuz someday you won't have him."

Well, hubby opening the door for a lady is not something out of the ordinary.  He is from the old school of manners, and he believes the lady should go first and the door be opened for her.  But, to the two ladies, he performed a random act of kindness that brought back the sweet feeling of a man opening the door for them.

Wouldn't it be a good thing if each one of us tried to incorporate random kindnesses into our schedules?  Here are some ideas.....

  • Smile at 5 strangers.  You don't have to say a word.  Just smile.  Take note of the other person's response.  They may not smile back, and that's okay.  That says they are troubled, and your smile may be exactly what they needed to receive.
  • When shopping and standing in the check-out lane, take time to visit with the employee who is helping you.  These employees usually hear only customer complaints and are accused of over-charging or putting stuff in the wrong sack.  If you do discover a mistake, call it to their attention in a concerned and cordial manner.  Human respect is something we see trickling down the drain, and that will hurt our society more than the recession.
  • Say "Bless You" to someone who sneezes, regardless of whether or not you know them.
  • Show affection.  All it takes is a hug, a touch on the arm, a kiss on the cheek, or a squeeze of the shoulders to make someone's day.  
  • We are all fighting a battle.  The least we can do for each other is to look for the good and not whine about the bad.  Unkind criticisms are destructive and have no place in our social settings.   
  • Call a grandparent, aunt, or uncle.  Let them know you are thinking about them.  The older we get, the less we are remembered. 
  • Write a handwritten thank-you note when someone does something nice for you.  A person's heart almost skips a beat when we see our name written on an envelope that's waiting in the mail box.  A handwritten note means someone bought a card, signed it with a personal note, got our address and wrote it on the envelope, bought and attached a stamp, and took it to a mail depository.  That's old-fashioned politeness at its finest.  I myself am guilty of taking the easy route with email and sending e-cards.   
  • Share garden produce with a neighbor.  Instead of letting vegetables go to waste, offer them to those who aren't able to plant their own garden.  
  • Be kind to Mother Nature and plant a tree.  We forget the importance of trees.  They help control the climate, filter the air we breathe, protect us from weather and create a natural, beautiful environment.  It makes me so sad to watch how many trees are being cruelly ripped from our country landscapes, with no human thought given to the harm being done.  Let us please plant trees.   
  • Thank your parents, your children, and anyone else who has helped you in the past. If someone has made a significant difference in your life, surprise them with a card or a letter.  Let them know you appreciate them.
  • Cook and deliver a meal to someone in need.  Casseroles are easy to transport and are comfort foods sure to make a dent in someone's heart.   
  • If a friend talks, listen to what he/she is saying.  Nothing hurts worse than someone who truly isn't listening to what we have to say.  
  • In the check-out lane, offer to let the person behind you go first.  They may decline the offer, but that's a way for them to return your kindness.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Ducks and Geese

Canadian Goose
Wild Duck
When we first saw these two, they were swimming side-by-side like best buddies.  Then the duck stuck his head down into the water to get a snack, and the goose nonchalantly turned to go his own way.

Dabbling Duck
Dabbling ducks, like this one, reach into the water for food by 'up-ending.'  Their heads go down in the water, their tails go up in the air, but they don't completely submerge themselves.  It's another one of nature's whatchamacallits that make us wonder and laugh at the same time.  It's just a giggle to see a duck's butt up in the air.....there's no other way to say it.

The 'honk' of the Canadian is a sound we in this area easily recognize, but actually they are known to have at least 12 other goose calls to greet each other, to warn, and to show that everything is okay.  Scientists have discovered that the Canadian may be one of the most talkative animals next to us humans.  Baby geese, or goslings as they are called, start communicating with their parents before they are hatched out of the egg.  They have found that after they hatch, the goslings respond differently to different noises their parents make, which indicates a rather sophisticated level of communication.

The male and female Canadian are good parents.  Before the hatch, the male stays near to the nest and guards the female and the eggs.  If there's a sign of danger, he will lure the predator away.  After the babies hatch, both parents devotedly raise them.  The family will spend all of its time together, and the goslings usually stay with their parents for a full year.

Without realizing it, we have made the duck and the goose an integral part of the English language.....

  • I've got the goose bumps.
  • What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
  • Duck!!! (put your head down)
  • You silly goose.
  • He sat there like a sitting duck.
  • Man, that went slicker than goose grease!
  • She waddles like a duck
  • She won the lottery, that lucky duck.
  • How 'bout the quack (the lousy doctor)?
  • You'd better get your ducks in a row.
  • Settle down, don't get your feathers all ruffled.
  • Don't fret about it, let it roll like water off a duck's back.
  • I'm so tired I feel like a dead duck.
  • Lame duck session of Congress is when Congress meets after election day and before the next Congressional term begins.
  • The goose that laid the golden egg.
  • If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck.
  • He looked lost, like a duck out of water.
  • Boy, she learned fast, like a duck takes to water.
  • Loose as a goose.
  • We went on a wild goose chase.
  • He tried to goose me.
  • Take a gander at this (take a close look at something).
  • Boy, his goose is cooked.
  • "Bottoms up!" (making a toast)
Now, wasn't that just ducky! 

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Black Cat

We were moseying down a back country road, soaking in springtime.  Something caught my eye, and I said to hubby, "Back up...I've gotta take a picture."

"My job is to sit here and be admired."
Right along the road lay this dignified black cat....alluring, mysterious, and regally enthralled with its high level of existence.

I don't know what it is, but I can feel black cats daring me to question their mythical powers.  Maybe their wary instincts tell them I'm the "devil's advocate," and maybe it's their guarded nature that draws me to them.

From little on, I remember hearing grownups warning and fearing black cats crossing their paths.  Well, it doesn't take long for kids to learn on their own what is for real and what isn't.  Groucho Marx was right when he said, "A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere."


Poor black kitties and older cats are a lot less likely to get adopted from pet shelters because of silly superstitions of the past. How sad.  Not all black cat myths are bad, however.  Fishermen's wives used to keep black cats at home with them while their husbands went out to sea.  They believed that the black cat would prevent harm coming to their husbands.  These black cats were so valuable that they were oftentimes stolen.

Now, for those who prefer to take stock in superstition and folklore......
  • If a black cat crosses your path while you're walking, walk in a circle, then go backward across the spot where it happened, and count to 13;
  • If a black cat crosses your path while you're driving, turn your hat around backwards and mark an X on your windshield; 
  • If you see a one-eyed black cat, spit on your thumb, press it in the palm of your hand, and make a wish.  Your wish will come true. 

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

For Less Stress......

  1. Have a Plan B.
  2. Aim for 85% instead of 100%.
  3. Do things that don't cost money.
  4. Wear shoes that don't give blisters.
  5. Ask for help when you're overwhelmed.  
  6. Look at your options. You may not like them, but you have them.
  7. Accept that nobody wants to be fixed to meet someone else's expectations.
  8. Heed the doctors' recommendation and take an (age-specific) one-a-day vitamin to get the nutrients your body needs to keep going.
  9. Decide which battles are worth your time and effort.  
  10. Know your margins and stay within them.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Easter Scavenger Hunt

Our family scavenger hunt yesterday made for spectacular Easter fun.  Our hostess did a masterful job putting it together and had everything in readiness.  Here's how it went.

1.  We were paired into teams of 3, given the typewritten clues, explained the yard boundaries, and had 30 minutes to figure out the clues.  Each group of 3 was assigned a color, and that color was also marked on the treasure.  That was how we knew which treasure to claim.

2.  Each team was given a pretty pastel Easter pail for the loot we found, and we all wore rabbit ears that colorfully identified which group we were belonged to.  It was hysterically fun.

3.  When the 30 minutes was up, we were called back to the house, and the loot was tallied up.  My group tied for first place, but we teased the others that we actually won.  That cranked up the volume of fun even more.

The best part, for me, was reverting back into a little girl and chasing around the yard.  For 30 minutes, I didn't have to be a grown-up.  A lot of work went into planning the hunt, and I know some forever memories were seared into all of us yesterday.  It was the Easter of Easters.

The fuzzy one went along and had fun with her six cousins, a Siberian Husky, a German Shepherd, two Saint Bernards, a Shitzu, and a Collie.  It was a hoot watching these vastly-different breeds mingle and sniff around each other.  I was ever so proud of the fuzzy one, cuz she took sides with me during the scavenger hunt and bounced right along behind me.  One thing for sure, she slept soundly last night....and so did we. 

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Palms, Pennies, Pranks, and Pot-Lucks

Like the diamond, today is multi-faceted.  Christians celebrate Palm Sunday, Americans observe the Penny, it's April Fool's Day, and best of all my hubby's family is celebrating Easter.  In a couple hours, we three will be trolleying northward to join the feast of family and food.

Yesterday we put together a 7-layer lettuce salad and baked three dozen crescent rolls to contribute to the table. There is a spiritual undertone when each family brings a food they prepared.  It reflects the idea of how everyone adds their uniqueness to the clan.  Family unity is to be cherished.  Only when we don't have it, do we know how cherishable and perishable it is.

Our hostess is having an Easter scavenger hunt for the kids.  I'm anxious for this.  Watching the little kiddies scamper and hop around the farm yard like little bunnies can't help but bring joy to the heart and hope to the soul.  Guess that's what the Easter season is all about.

Usually hubby nails me with an April Fool's joke before I'm fully awake.  But, this morning I managed to get him first.  I told him I didn't think I was going with him to his family Easter.  It was that split second reaction I wanted, and boy did I get it.  Yippee!

Palm Sunday makes me think of gramma braiding the palm she'd bring home from church.  She'd tuck part of it behind a picture of the Sacred Heart that hung in her bedroom.  It stayed there all year long and would only be taken down and replaced with next year's palm.  This must have given her comfort and strength for her journey.  Bless her heart.

Now, how are we supposed to celebrate the Penny?  The only way I can think of is with a titch of humor....

Penny was a hard-working, conscientious girl, who lived on her own.  Her dream in life was to go on an ocean cruise around the world.  So, she scrimped, she saved, and she saved, and she scrimped until finally one day, she had enough money to go on her ocean cruise.  She booked passage on a cruise liner~first class all the way.  The cruise started off on a grandiose scale, dancing and parties every night.  But, Penny was a cautious girl, so she never drank, but just danced the night away.

One night, after they had been at sea for a week, Penny was walking back to her cabin, when the heel on her left shoe broke, throwing her off balance.  If that wasn't enough, the ship chose that moment to tilt to the left.  As a result, Penny was thrown overboard.  Screams were immediately raised, and after about five minutes they found Penny.  Hauling her aboard, the ship's crew realized that it was too late, poor Penny was dead.

Normally, they would have done a burial at sea, but as I said before, Penny was a very conscientious girl, and had written a will.  In it, she specified that she wished for her body to be cremated, and kept in a jar on her parents' fireplace mantel.  Her wishes were fulfilled, which just goes to show you that a Penny saved is a Penny urned.