Thursday, May 31, 2012

Amish Donuts


Isn't that the truth.  Why are we struggling to build an empire that will collapse when we cross the finish line?  Just makes no sense to me.  Wouldn't we be smarter to lolly gag our way along, doing our very best with the very least and having a good time in the process?  

We're off on a trolley with dear friends today.  Cannot wait to hear them tell of their winter adventures in Arizona.  I'm seeing raindrops on the windows, and the temperature has lowered quite a bit, about 20 degrees.  A cuddly jacket will feel good as we scoot around a 40-mile radius of home.  One of our planned destinations is Amish country, and already I can envision the tray of right-out-of-the-oven glazed donuts strategically placed beneath the windowsill, daring us and tempting us.  Most times we stop there, the donuts are still warm.

Gotta go get myself showered and dressed.  Have yourself a fine day.....and, don't forget to look for, and enjoy, the little things.  That's what I'm gonna do.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Do You Ever Wonder How Rich You Are?

One day a rich father took his son on a trip to the country,
with the firm purpose of showing him how poor people can be.
They spent a day and a night on the farm
of a very poor family.

When they got back from their trip,
the father asked his son,
"How was the trip?"

"Very good, Dad."

"Did you see how poor people can be?" the father asked.

"Yea!"

"And, what did you learn?"

The son answered, "I saw that we have a dog at home,
and they have four.
We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden,
they have a creek that has no end.
We have imported lamps in the garden,
they have the stars.
Our patio reaches to the front yard,
they have a whole horizon."

When the little boy was finishing, his father was speechless.

His son added, "Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are!"

~Author Unknown

Spurtles, Thivels and Dibbers


Spurtle, or Thivel
The spurtle is the traditional Scottish porridge-stirring stick, known also as a thivel.  Porridge, or oatmeal, was the traditional staple food of Scotland.

Usually spurtles are tapered.  Some have handles shaped like a thistle, the national symbol of Scotland.  Legend warns to use the right hand to stir porridge in a clockwise direction.  Stirring "widdershins," or counter-clockwise, will surely bring bad luck to a home.

Maybe in 2012 we aren't eating much porridge, but the spurtle can be used to stir our stews, rice, soups, gravies, chili, jams, sauces, and all things stirrable on the stove.  One lady uses the spurtle to stir and prod her pickles during the week-long canning process.  The wooden spurtle won't scratch pots and pans and easily gets into the round corners.  I'm thinking this may be the unique gift for that special gal who has everything.

Dibber, or Dibble
The dibber, also known as the dibble, is a hand-held pointed tool for making holes in soil to plant seeds and bulbs. It can be dragged in the soil to create a trench to plant a row of seeds.  Another gift idea for the avid gardener.

So, whether we stir the stew or sow the seed, the primitive tools made of wood continue to sustain us.

Monday, May 28, 2012

In the Presence of a Civil War Soldier

After hours of 95+ degrees yesterday, we took a trolley with the air conditioner cranked up to cool us down.  The corn must have grown an inch after the sustaining rains the night before.

Decorated Country  Cemetery
Alongside a gravel road, this patriotic rainbow caught our eye.  We stopped to snap a couple of pictures.  It's that business of living the moment and taking that moment home to relive later.

An iron fence secures this country cemetery, as does a grove of trees.  A sacred serenity, was my first thought.  A place of no pain, no suffering, and no fear.  It's that business of the double-edged sword.  No happiness either.

Civil War Gravestone
I stood outside the fence and looked down at the aged gravestone directly in front of me.  Can you believe that I was standing inches away from a Civil War soldier?  On the left side of the stone, the star flag holder read, "GAR 1861-1865."  What are the chances of that happening on the Eve of Memorial Day?

All of me was humbled and reverenced.  To think there lay a veteran member of the Grand Army of the Republic, one of the most powerful organizations of Civil War Veterans.

While researching the GAR, I came upon this paragraph that tells the reason these fraternal organizations were formed following the  Civil War.....

"Probably the most profound emotion was emptiness.  Men who had lived together, fought together, foraged together and survived, had developed a unique bond that could not be broken. As time went by, the memories of the filthy and vile environment of camp life began to be remembered less harshly and eventually fondly.  The horror and gore of battle lifted with the smoke and smell of burnt black powder and was replaced with the personal rain of tears for the departed comrades.  Friendships forged in battle survived the separation, and the warriors missed the warmth of trusting companionship that had asked only total and absolute commitment.  With that as background, groups of men began joining together."  (Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War)

Last night's trolley turned into an unexpected rich experience.  Reading a book about the Civil War is one thing.  Standing where a Civil War soldier rests, is another.  We'll never know what this soldier saw, what he felt, where he fought, or anything about his family.  The important thing is that we honor his heroic efforts, and that's what Memorial Day is all about.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Vatican: Pope's Butler Charged

Tsk.  Tsk.  Tsk.  Trouble's brewing in the Vatican again.

Yes, yes, I know this is a hair-trigger subject, but that's not going to curtail my thoughts.  I'm what they call a  Cafeteria Catholic.  My curiosities were so burdensome that I sailed my own ship on the high seas of the church's history, studied every word and paragraph of the Old and New Testaments, went on a pilgrimage to Rome, Italy, where Pope John Paul held my hand and gave me his Papal Blessing.  Before doing all this, my heart, soul and head were starving to death on the spoonful of religious truth the church doled out to me.  I was hungry and went by myself to the spiritual cafeteria, filled my plate, and realized what was edible for me and what was not. You see, it's my opinion that you can't have faith without doubt; and, without doubt, you have blindness.

The Pope's butler is charged with illegal possession and leaking of confidential documents, reports, and poison-pen memos exposing political infighting, financial mismanagement, possible money laundering and administrative chaos within the Apostolic Palace.

What could possibly be the butler's motive for standing up to this mighty power structure?  What could urge him to violate the sacred trust placed in him?  What made him betray the Head of the Catholic Church?  What wrongdoing did he discover bubbling beneath the lid of the Catholic kettle?

Why is the Pope harboring and hiding potentially harmful documents in the first place?  Why is revealing the truth the crime?  Why on earth would this 46-year-old man, who lives with his wife and three children in an apartment inside the Vatican, jeopardize himself and his family?  He could go to prison.  Can he be fairly tried within the Vatican, by the Vatican, for violating the Vatican?   Did he merely examine his conscience, as the Catholic Church teaches, and do the right thing by bringing this to light?  What would Jesus do if he was in the butler's shoes?

Guess we're just going to have to keep our eyes and ears on high alert.  As Paul Harvey would have said, we're going to have to wait to hear the rest of the story.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Proud to Be an American Where I Know that I am Free

Our Fallen Soldiers Above assembled during the night for their annual fireworks display.  Quite a show they put on, with thunder and lightning that about shook the house.

Memorial Day is for remembering those who willingly stopped living so the rest of us can be free.  Celebrating our freedoms is something we need to be more diligent about.  We forget how fortunate we are to be Americans.

Memorial Weekend, for as long as I can remember, has been rainy.  Are they raindrops? or teardrops?  Is it thunder? or Heaven's percussion section?

We sit here this morning, just the 3 of us, safe and sound in our home.  My God, that in itself is a freedom the soldiers wanted for us.  We are free to get in the car and go wherever we want, buy whatever we want, eat where we want and what we want, stop in any church we want, visit anyone we want, sing if we want, cry if we want, go shopping if we want, or fishing if we want.  Those fallen soldiers earned these freedoms for us, they didn't come free.

If we teach our children one thing, let it be to appreciate their right to be free.  Somewhere in the last fifty years, we've grown to think we're "entitled" to a cushy life and the cushy stuff that goes with it.  Au contraire.  This nation wasn't founded on entitlements, nor was it founded by weaklings.  It was founded on personal responsibility and mighty hard work.  And, for America to maintain itself, responsibility and hard work must continue.  We have the freedom to choose our occupations according to our God-given talents, choose our institutions of higher learning, and the Ladder of Accomplishment is always out.  How high we climb is no one else's responsibility but our own.

Memorial weekend kicks off summer's fun, tourist attractions open their doors, schools have ended their final semester.  We are free to have fun.  The fallen soldiers must be looking down with pride and satisfaction when they see little children at amusement parks, licking ice cream cones, visiting with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and catching wrapped candies at parades.  Let's fire up to them our own fireworks display of gratitude.  If they hadn't given their lives, we don't know what life could be like for us right now.  Maybe there wouldn't be such a thing as a summer vacation.

Please put your hand on your heart and click on www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

John Edwards Trial

The angels showered last evening and graciously watered the earth.  Can you hear the quiet choir of gratitude coming from the blades of grass, flowers, bushes, and trees?

Is anyone, besides me, getting anxious to hear the jury's verdict in the John Edwards trial?  This morning I read that one of the female alternate jurors is flirting with Johnny Boy.  She smiles.  He smiles back.  She giggles.  He blushes.

Here's a question for us.  Is it a blessing or a curse to be extremely handsome or extremely beautiful?  In Johnny's case, I think his woman-killer looks are his downfall.  If he'd be as round as he is tall, if he'd have fewer filled follicles, and a sneering smile, do we really think this alternate juror would be teasing him?  My question is, how did a temptress get picked as alternate juror in a disarming case like this?  Is she capable of making an unbiased decision?

Our appearance is what I call the luck of the draw.  Our youth fantasizes over outer looks, but age sets us straight with that thing called wisdom.  As Benjamin Franklin said, "Don't judge men's wealth or godliness by their Sunday appearance."

Yesterday I saw a little girl who had just started walking on her own.  The poor little thing was wearing tiny cowboy boots, the tops of which were about to her knees.  Obviously a fashion statement on her mother's part.  I cringed with discomfort as I watched the little girl try to lift one leg, put it down, and lift the other, and do the same, to keep walking.  Mommie grinned, totally oblivious to the little girl's struggle.  Hell-O....

Twenty-first century casual dress is one of the best moves society has made.  Suit and tie and fancy dress and high heels just aren't the norm in my part of the world anyway.  After dressing for the office environment for over 40 years, I emptied my closets of all things restricting.  Most times before we leave home, hubby asks me, "Are you going to wear shoes?"

Back to Johnny....one can imagine how his pathetic ego must have puffed when Ms. H went gaga over his handsome face, his trim build, his thick head of hair, his seductive smile, and that magnetic southern drawl that pulls any woman with a pulse toward him.  That ego of his must've needed basting like the Thanksgiving turkey.  But, you know what?  The guy who is round as he is tall might be the pick of the litter, with no disgusting ego to feed.  Heaven help us if we let our eyes make our decisions.

The jury is in their sixth day of deliberations, asking to see and examine every private jet receipt, every handwritten note, and every voice-mail transcript.  They're doing their American duty, and it's not an easy one.  They are the only ones who will be able to decide Johnny's guilt or innocence.  They've heard the testimony.  Will Johnny be a jailbird, or will he fly away?  Due process is in motion, and we'll just have to wait for the jury's decision.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pages from Kitchens Past

  • Until the 1700s, it was mostly the wealthy who used cookbooks.
  • Most of their servants had not been taught to read, so the lady of the household read the directions as the servant prepared the meal.  
  • In 1796, Amelia Simmons, an American orphan, was the first woman to self-publish a cookbook, called "American Cookery."
  • Simmons gathered her information through first-hand domestic experience.  She advises, when choosing meats, "their smell denotes their goodness."
  • It was in Simmons' cookbook that the word 'cookie' made its first published appearance.
  • Simmons recommended the use of pearlash (the forerunner of baking powder) to lighten dough and told how to make Indian slapjacks, brew spruce beer and dress a turtle.
  • Simmons' book is online at www.fullbooks.com/American-Cookery.html.  It's really cool.
  • Early cookbooks gave directions like the 'pinch,' and the 'dash.'
  • Fanny Farmer (1857-1915) brought the scientific method of measuring ingredients to cooking, and we're still using them today .
  • Cookbooks of the 1800s introduced household tips for the housewife, like, how to use a bone button to clean a saucepan.  
  • One-pot meals (which happen to be my favorites) were the most basic in colonial cooking.  Those with more common backgrounds did not use slaves, and meals were made with whatever meat was available, if any at all.
What labels me as 'old fashioned' is my sadness that modern-day families don't eat their meals at a common table.  Maybe the kids won't miss what they've never had, but the family meal was the pivot point of childhood for us baby boomers.  We bowed our heads before meals.  We thanked for what was set before us, because it was the result of hard work.  Whether it was a plate of pancakes or a platter of fried chicken, we knew it was a blessing.

Keyboard gadgets don't teach respect, and never will.  If technology eliminates our respect for one another, well, then maybe it's not the best human advancement.  I don't know.  I'm beyond the age of having a valued opinion.  I live in the past....when we were called in for supper.....and we ran full speed to get there.  We washed our hands, we said our prayers, and mom passed the food around the table.  If there was something we didn't like, we were told to at least take a small portion, and try it.  Rules were rules, and they were enforced.  Our wrongs were given consequences.  We learned right from wrong.  

There's one recipe that needs be kept in our cupboards today, and that is..........

Gramma's Recipe for a Loving Family

4 cups of love 
2 cups of loyalty
3 cups of forgiveness
1 cup of friendship
5 tablespoons of hope
2 tablespoons of tenderness
4 quarts of faith
1 barrel of laughter

Take love and loyalty, mix it thoroughly with faith.
  Blend it with tenderness, kindness and understanding.
  Add friendship and hope.
  Sprinkle abundantly with laughter. 
 Bake it in sunshine.
  Serve daily with generous helpings.
  Serves one entire home forever.
  ~Anonymous

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Our Day on the River

Not one frickin' bite, not even a nibble.  No ice cream cones on the way home.  Skunked.   We tossed fine-dining morsels of nightcrawlers into waters that should have been highly populated with bluegill, but all we got was snagged.

There's far too much Columbus in us to get discouraged, so we turned to Mother Nature for some backwater exploring.  C'mon, let me show you what we found....

This Blue Heron doesn't have to wait for a fish to bite.  He waits patiently for one that looks yummy, stabs it with his powerful beak and doesn't bother with chewing.  One big gulp, and the poor fish is on its way for processing.

By the time I got the camera focused, only one turtle was left on this log.  Turtles galore were out sunning themselves, but they're very skittish.  The second they'd see our boat, off they plopped back into the water.  Ker-plunk and they were gone.

See the colonies of Swallow mud nests?  As we drove our boat under the bridge, the Swallows swooped and screeched for us to get the heck out of their territory.  Interestingly, our winters take a toll on the bridges, and each spring the steel parts need to be washed to prevent corrosion.  This washing with power washers destroys the mud nests.  The State DOT now protects these nests by washing only the steel parts of the bridges, and not the concrete parts where the nests are.  That way, Swallow reproduction is protected.


Can you see where the clams have crawled in the sand?  Can you see my head?



All I could think of was a bowl of steaming hot clam chowder with puddles of butter, and my spoon ready to dip in.  But, we were good environmentalists and put the little darling back where he belonged.

Man-made wing dams, like this one, were built to divert the river's current away from the shorelines and reduce erosion.  Some are below the water and pose danger to the average boater.  The river rule is:  If you see ripples on the water surface, that's a good sign that a wing dam is lying beneath.  The best bet is to stay within the buoys in the main channel.

These beaches were empty yesterday, but every square inch will be occupied by boaters camping for the Memorial Day Weekend.  How well we remember the days of pounding tent stakes in the sand, water skiing, peeing back in the trees, and sand in the pants.

"Barge traffic on the Mississippi river represents the most efficient, most cost-effective, most environmentally sound means of transporting commodity goods from this region of the country to market."  ~Leonard Boswell

"The eyes of the dragonfly are one of the most amazing and awe inspiring sights.  Given almost 80% of the insect's brain power is dedicated to its sight and the fact that it can see in all 360 degrees around it, the dragonfly symbolizes the uninhibited vision of the mind and the ability to see beyond the limitations of the human self.  It also symbolizes a person's rising from materialism to be able to see beyond the mundane into the vastness that is really our Universe."

Was it just a coincidence that this dragonfly landed next to hubby just as we docked our boat?  or, was it Mother Nature Herself coming to thank us for taking the time to appreciate her wondrous works.  The spiritualist in me says it's the latter.  And, that makes me feel really good inside.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Fishing Frolic

Hub and I are taking the boat to the river today.  When we're about half-way there, I'll toss him the usual wager.  The one who catches the first fish buys ice cream cones on the way home.  The reason I do this is......well, to make sure we stop for ice cream.  After baking and burning in the hot sun, nothing cools a person down better than soft-serve, velvety-smooth, ice-cold vanilla ice cream.  I think I read somewhere it's good for the appendix, or whatever.

Did you know......

"Fishing is the sport of drowning worms."  ~Author Unknown

"A bad  day of fishing is better than a good day at work."  ~Author Unknown

"There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of the mind."  ~Washington Irving

"Bragging may not bring happiness, but no man having caught a large fish goes home through an alley."  ~Author Unknown

"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."  ~Henry David Thoreau

"If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles."  ~Doug Larson

"There (s)he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process."  ~Paul O'Neil

"Even if you've been fishing for three hours and haven't gotten anything except poison ivy and sunburn, you're still better off than the worm."  ~Author Unknown

"Three-fourths of the earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land.  It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn."  ~Chuck Clark

"Fishing is much more than fish.  It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers."  ~Herbert Hoover

"Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught."  ~Author Unknown

"There will be days when the fishing is better than one's most optimistic forecast, others when it is far worse. Either is a gain over just staying home."  ~Roderick Haig-Brown

Monday, May 21, 2012

Enchanting Cantabria, Spain

Yesterday's Sunday Crossword Puzzle threw out the clue, "River originating in Cantabria."  Hmmm.

Consider today's blog a geography lesson.  If you're like me, you can't learn enough about this wondrous planet we share.  Besides the answer I was looking for, my research gave me more insight into Cantabria (can-TAH-bree-ah), the hidden jewel of Northern Spain, that has an est. population of 600,000.
  • Cantabria's landscape is a kaleidoscope of flower-filled meadows, green valleys, dense forests, mountains, canyons, and enticing coastal beaches for those preferring not to wear clothes (the nudes)  and those preferring to wear clothes (the textiles). 
  • Remnants of ancient cultures can still be explored in its Medieval villages, ancient monuments, and 15,000- year-old cave paintings.
  • The ancient Village of Potes is a pilgrimage destination to the 6th Century Sanctuary of St. Toribio...which claims to hold part of the left arm of the cross on which Jesus died...the largest remnant of the True Cross. 
  • Cantabria is considered to be Green Spain, because its wet and humid climate is perfect for agriculture and vegetation.  
  • The flag of self-governing Cantabria is made of two horizontal stripes of equal width, white on top and red on the bottom, with the regional coat of arms in the center.  
  • Santander is the capital, or governing city.
  • Despite its small size, Cantabria has 7 national parks.
  • Picon Bejes-Tresviso is a sharp Cantabrian blue cheese made of a mixture of cow, sheep, and goat milk.  It is left to mature for 3-4 months inside cool, damp limestone caves, which are the ideal environment for blue mold.  .  
  • Fishing fleets arrive daily in ports bringing in high-quality fish and shellfish from the Atlantic....anchovies, crabs, mussels, lobster, squid, sardines, tuna, and seabass.
  • Ever heard of a stew called "Sorropotun" made of fresh tuna and sweet red potatoes?
  • A local drink known as 'sidra' (cider) is poured from a height so it fizzes in the glass.
  • The answer to the crossword clue is the 470-mile-long Ebro River which flows southeastward from northern Spain to the Mediterranean Sea.
Route of the Ebro River 
And, that is why I love doing crossword puzzles!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

This Too, Shall Pass Away

When sorrows come into your life
And threaten to destroy
The very things you treasure most,
Your happiness and joy;
And when that crushing power
Threatens everything worth while,
And clouds of darkness gather
And you find it hard to smile;
Then lift your head and let the world
Hear every word you say.
With faith undaunted say to them:
"This too, shall pass away."

When you are over-burdened
With life's toil and earthly care;
When life becomes so dreary
It seems more than you can bear;
When weariness overcomes you
And you yearn for peaceful rest,
And trials of the day leave you
Discouraged and depressed;
There is no song within your heart;
You feel you cannot pray;
Then turn your thoughts to gladness for
"This too, shall pass away."

When fortune smiles upon you,
And your cup of joy is full;
When everything you want is yours,
And life seems wonderful;
When days and weeks go flitting by
With happiness replete;
And you desire nothing more
To make your life complete;
Beware lest all these treasures
Of this earth lead you astray,
And hear again these truthful words:
"This too, shall pass away."

And so remember well these words,
Whatever your lot may be,
For life is ever changing...
With such rapidity.
Our gladness turns to sadness
When the sunshine disappears,
And sorrows change to happiness
When God has calmed our fears.
Compared with all eternity,
This life is but one day.
We cling to life, and yet we know
"This too, shall pass away."
           ~H.L. Frisby


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fifteen Questions

  1. What is the wallpaper on your cell phone? 
  2. Do you still have your tonsils and adenoids?
  3. Do you like scary movies or comedy movies more?
  4. What is your shoe size?
  5. What is your least favorite food?
  6. Do you wash your hair or body first when you shower?
  7. How far do you live now from the place you were born?
  8. Do you color your hair?
  9. Have you ever had a surgery?
  10. Favorite soda pop?
  11. Grab the book nearest you, turn to page 26, and find line 4.
  12. What was the name of your first pet?
  13. What are your best physical features?
  14. Do you have confidence in yourself?
  15. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
----------------------------------------------------------------------
My answers:
  1. My cell phone wallpaper is a cup of coffee.
  2. No tonsils or adenoids.  Had 'em out when I was in first grade.
  3. Like comedies, not scary movies at all.
  4. Size 7 shoe.
  5. Don't care for cottage cheese.
  6. Wash my hair first in the shower.
  7. I live 13 miles from where I was born.
  8. Nope, don't color my hair.
  9. 9 surgeries.
  10. Diet Coke.
  11. "I wish that you would," a voice said.
  12. Brownie, the little dog that followed me home from the mailbox....and stayed.
  13. I'd say my feet and my eyes.
  14. Sure.  Why wouldn't I?
  15. Probably Our Creator created a rooster and a hen, and then came the egg.  If He would've created the egg first, Adam and Eve might've stepped on it and then there'd be no chicken.
Now it's your turn....

Friday, May 18, 2012

Power of Personal Perseverance

I'm trying very hard not to dance on the page, swoosh pom-poms, scream and holler like a wild woman.  Our attics are clean, the boxes of stuff are outta here, and now the auction house can worry about selling it.  I don't know how we did it, but we did. A monumental load has been lifted off our psychological backs.  

Mother Nature is blessing us with beautiful weather, sunshine, comfortable temperatures, perfect for the spring planting.  Mechanical monsters crawl the fields, dropping long spans of seeds into the black soil.  What a privilege to live in the Midwest, where we grow food for the world.

Hubby finished planting carrots, onions, red radish and white radish, lettuce, peas, green beans, tomatoes, zucchini and butternut squash, and cucumbers.  Cannot wait to slap a thick juicy slice of red tomato on a grilled burger with a slice of raw onion, and lotsa ketchup. The kind of burger where you need to wear a bib for all the goodie drips.  Heaven has got to be right around the corner from there.

We had a backyard spat yesterday but didn't call the cops.  Never underestimate the wren when it comes to fighting off a sparrow.  Holy Moses, such a racket, but my spunky wren won out and exercised her squatter's rights.  I'm tickled silly knowing Mr. and Mrs. Wren will be spending the summer with us and giving us grandchildren with feathers.  
"If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination.  The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down seventy times and get up off the floor saying, "Here comes number seventy-one!" ~Richard M. Devos

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Girls Night Out

A trio of 15-year-old girlfriends decided to meet for dinner.  They discussed where to eat and finally agreed on McDonald's next to the Sea Side Restaurant, because they only had $6.50 between them and Billy Smith, the cute boy in science class, lived on that street.

10 years later, the same girlfriends, now 25-year-olds, discussed where to meet for dinner.  Finally they agreed to meet at the Sea Side Restaurant because it had free snacks, there was no cover charge, the beer was cheap, the band was good,  and there were lots of cute guys.

10 years later, the same girlfriends, now 35-year-olds, discussed where to meet for dinner.  Finally they agreed to meet at the Sea Side Restaurant because the combos were good, it was near the gym, and if they went late enough, there wouldn't be many whiny little kids.

10 years later, the same girlfriends, now 45-year-olds, discussed where to meet for dinner.  Finally they agreed to meet at the Sea Side Restaurant because the martinis were big and the waiters wore tight pants and had nice buns.

10 years later, the same girlfriends, now 55-year-olds, discussed where to meet for dinner.  Finally they agreed to meet at the Sea Side Restaurant because the prices were reasonable, it had windows that opened (in case of hot flashes), the wine list was good, and fish was good for their cholesterol.

10 years later, the same girlfriends, now 65-year-olds, discussed where to meet for dinner.  Finally they agreed to meet at the Sea Side Restaurant because they had an Early Bird Special and the lighting was good.

10 years later, the same girlfriends, now 75 year-olds, discussed where to meet for dinner.  Finally they agreed to meet at the Sea Side Restaurant because the food wasn't too spicy and it was handicapped accessible.

10 years later, the same girlfriends, now 85-year-olds, discussed where to meet for dinner.  Finally they agreed to meet at the Sea Side Restaurant because they'd never been there before.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What is in Catnip that Kitties Love So Much?

Special thanks to Wintergreen for yesterday's comment question about catnip....and why kitties like it so much.
  • Catnip is a perennial herb belonging to the mint family and is a cousin to basil and oregano.
  • Nepeta Cataria originally came from Europe and Asia, and now grows like a weed over much of the U.S.
  • Its Latin-origin cataria means 'of a cat.'
  • It is the chemical, nepetalactone, found in the oil of catnip leaves, stems, and seeds that attracts domesticated cats, and larger cats like lions, leopards, pumas, and panthers. 
  • About one cat in two inherits a sensitivity to the herb, and it starts when your kitty is anywhere between 3 and 6 months old.  Some cats have no reaction whatsoever to catnip.
  • After a couple of sniffs of the oil, a cat will rub it, roll over it, kick at it, and go nuts over it for a few minutes, but will soon lose interest and walk away.  It may be two hours before the cat comes back to it and has the same reaction.
  • Some cats are mellowed and calmed by the smell of catnip.
  • Catnip is non-addictive and safe for cats.  Eating it won't cause a reaction.  They have to breathe in the chemical released into the air to react.  

What can Catnip do for us humans?

 Catnip is a tension tamer, a natural sedative and digestive aid, contains vitamins, A, B, and C, calcium iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium.  Catnip tea can be found in most health food stores. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2nd Blogiversary

Two years ago today, I took my writing on the road and started the Nature Weaver Sanctuary.  I knew it would be a challenge, but I had no idea it would be this much fun.

Fairy Bells
So, how do I celebrate....have pondered this over and over....without a spark of genius.  Nature Weaver deserves something for her birthday, but what?  Then out of nowhere, came the idea of the sweet and fragrant flower...the Lily of the Valley.

Legend tells that the fairies use the flowers as steps to help them get to the reeds they use to weave their cradles.  When the fairies sing, the flowers ring.

Like everything else, there's a dark side to this delicate beauty.  If eaten, all parts of the Lily of the Valley plant are poisonous to humans, cats, and dogs.

The national hot line for the National Poison Control Center is     1-800-222-1222.  Any time you have a question about poisoning, or poison prevention, just call this number.  It does not need to be an emergency, and the line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Why did Our Creator design this precious flower and then make it poisonous?  Maybe it's a way to teach us that, "The beauty of the world has two edges....one of laughter and one of anguish."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Evening Tranquility

Leon Trotsky said, "Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that can happen to a man."  I'm finding this to be true, as 66 dares me to come closer.

These two, sitting in their lawn chairs, fishing, have found their fountain of youth.  The sun was in the west when I took this picture, but the sun isn't setting for them.  

When we're on a race track, we drive fast.  When we're in a neighborhood with little kids, we drive  slow.  Either place, we change gears to accommodate our environment.  That's what aging is like.

How well I remember how fast my boyfriend's '57 Chevy went on our nightly cruises around a 3-county area.  Give him a straight road, and he put the pedal to the metal, as the old saying went.  He spun me around making donuts, the car back of us ate our rubber, and glass pack mufflers let everyone know we were back in town.

Fifty years later, we're the ones pointing fingers at these 'crazy' young kids driving too fast, making noise, and squealing tires.  We most definitely have crossed the Generational Great Divide.  Now, our car ambles.  We try to catch a glimpse of everything there is to see, and sometimes we back up to take a closer look.

A bunch of things scare me about the years ahead, but hubby tells me to live the moment and not waste time worrying about what may never happen.  That's profound advice coming from the cool dude with slicked back hair who drove me around in circles.

Life is a blink in the eye of eternity.  It's by no means an easy blink, and it takes strength of character to make it to the checkered flag.  Every day I try to cast my line out there as I try to catch the magical moments.  I like to think of life as a scavenger hunt.  Our Creator gave us clues, but we have to hunt in order to find the hidden treasures.  Once in awhile I stumble upon a real keeper, like this sweet couple quietly minding their own business on a quiet spring evening....showing me how nice old age can be!

"The complete life,
the perfect pattern,
includes old age as well as
youth and maturity.
The beauty of the morning
and the radiance of noon are good, but 
it would be a very silly person
who drew the curtains and
turned on the light in order to 
shut out the tranquility of the evening.
Old age has its pleasures,
which, though different,
are not less than the pleasures of youth."
~W. Somerset Maugham  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothering Day

Happy Mothering Day to women and men across the globe who love and respect our children.

Yesterday afternoon I had a once-in-a-lifetime mothering experience.  We drove a few miles to a garden center, parked our car, and went inside to make our purchase.  As we were leaving the parking lot, I noticed this gorgeous peony bush.  Peonies blossoming in mid-May?

With camera in hand, I got out of the car and walked toward the gorgeous crimson blossoms when I heard this awful screeching.  What on earth?  You know how sometimes it takes the brain a little while to process what's going on?  Well, that's the way it was.

To my right, on the ground, were two very angry Killdeer birds, their feathers ruffled, ready to attack me if I made another step forward.  By then my brain figured out that I must be way too close to their nest.  Sure enough....a nest with four eggs just a couple steps ahead.

Despite the racket, I managed to snap a couple of pictures.  Remember now that we were at a place where they have to water plants so that's why the garden hose was laying there.  I couldn't believe the Killdeer would set up their own nursery in such a public place.

Four eggs on left
Upset mama on right 
If you look closely, you can see the four brown mottled eggs a little ways above the hose on the left. Both the mama and daddy Killdeer had their tails and feathers ruffled and screamed "kill-dee, kill-dee" to get me the heck out of there.  Boy, talk about nature's inborn intelligence....look how the eggs blend in and look exactly like the stones in the upper part of the picture.

Mama sitting on eggs
Once the parents settled down and were convinced that I wasn't a threat to the family, the mama killdeer sat down on top of the eggs and looked up at me, proud as a peacock.



Daddy goes for walk

And, daddy Killdeer went for a stroll......but I have a feeling he won't venture off too far.

Guess that's what they call good mothering.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

What is a Limerick?

May 12th is National Limerick Day.....so grab a piece of paper, a pencil, and let's write a silly 88558-syllable rhyming poem.  Lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme and have 8 syllables.  Lines 3 and 4 rhyme and have 5 syllables.

There was a young author from Maine
Whose prose was exceedingly plain.
So he learned how to dance
But tripped on his pants,
And now he must walk with a cane.
~Anonymous

Writing limericks is easy, yet it makes a person think.  Its simple structure lays the foundation, and from there it's just a matter of being silly.  Limericks encourage kids to have fun writing.

There once was a man from ____________(8)
___________________________________(8)
___________________________________(5)
___________________________________(5)
___________________________________(8)

There once was a man from the Bronx
Who collected seashells and conchs
He goes to the shore
Instead of the store
And when he drives by his car honks.
~Nature Weaver

There, that's mine.  Now it's your turn.....  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Waiting for the Wrens

My ears are on high alert for the sweet tweets announcing the arrival of the wrens.  Hubby tidied up three houses in three trees, and now we wait for our little darlings to choose a house and raise their families in our back yard.  My father-in-law crafted the little houses out of wood scraps in his woodworking shop, so the houses are as special to us as the feathery ones they embrace.

My delight is relaxing out back on the screened-in porch and watching the wrens poke twigs through the tiny front entrance.  I'm pretty sure the wren might give biblical Job a good run for his money when it comes to patience.

There's a refreshing breeze where we are, and the sun shines brightly.  I see my neighbor lady has a hanging basket of yellow posies beneath her front window.  She's 94, feisty and determined to live by herself.  She told us just the other afternoon, as she cautiously walked by the house, that the last thing she needs is somebody telling her what to do and when to do it.  Can't say that I blame her, and something tells me if I get to be 94, I'm gonna be an interesting challenge for my family.

It's graduation season, and tonight we're off to a party for a non-traditional student.  A lot of pride goes into achieving a degree, and so we want to be among those who honor his accomplishment.  I've offered to provide the salad.  His mother lived with us and took care of me and my brother when we were little.

I remember that my childhood night prayers included this graduate, because I wanted Goddie to make him well.  He had a brain tumor when he was a young boy and survived what was a mighty risky surgery back then.  His motivation to get well was so he could attend my wedding.  I'm happy to say that he danced with the bride, and only the two of us and our parents knew just how special that one dance was.

We all walk a lonely path, even though we're among friends.  Only I know what my life has been like, and only you know what yours has been like.  Neither of us can penetrate the other one's mind or heart.  It's a big responsibility to, day after day, make choices and decisions based on what's in our heart and head.  I'm often dumbfounded by how well the populations of the world co-exist.  Just think of 6 billion threads weaving themselves together.  It's hard enough to braid three bunches of hair into a nice braid, yet alone all those single threads into a carpet of humanity.

Oh, it's a beautiful day to stop and say a lonely prayer, thanking Our Creator for those who make us smile, those who give us hugs, those who live inside our hearts.  My life has been enriched by downpours of friends.  Each one has left their autograph on my soul.

Thank you, Great Spirit, for my daily life.
The gifts and the challenges,
The sweet and the silly. 
Please know how much I appreciate the memories of all that I have had,
 and pray that I may give myself back to the world 
in whatever way You think that should be.
Please help me to be a nice person to every one.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Clouds, Clouds, Clouds

Do you remember putting your back to the grass and looking up at the clouds?  Ahhhh, that fascinating city of fleeting formations.

Hubby spotted this Loaf of French Bread Cloud yesterday as we were trolleying down the road.  Man, I scrambled for the camera so I could show it to you guys.

It's pretty silly to get bored with life when there's a sky to watch.  The movie keeps on playing, with no intermissions.  Mother Nature runs the reel, and She expects us to be paying attention.

Kids nowadays are growing up so different than we did.  Most little heads are looking downward, reading text messages from their little friends.  We didn't have these gadgets to keep us occupied, so we looked at the world around us and played with it.  We did things like watch the clouds, skip rocks on water, slide into first base, and climb trees.  All those things got us up nice close and personal with Nature.
 
A way to show little kids how to have fun with the clouds is to...
  • buy them an unlined sketch book and pencil.
  • have them write MY CLOUDS on the front cover
  • sit outdoors with them and have them look up at the clouds
  • have them sketch the clouds as they see them
  • have them record the date, the time of the day, and describe the appearance of the clouds
  • boost their confidence by saying there is no wrong way to sketch what they see
  • size of cloud? color? happy clouds, swirling clouds, gloomy, beautiful, threatening?  fluffy, puffy, wispy? like a pillow, or whipped cream?
  • sketching the clouds encourages kids to reach inside themselves and pull out their powers of observation
  • this game can graduate to finding the fun formations, like this Loaf of French Bread Cloud.
We all see a different world.  Even though we have eyes that appear to be the same, they are as individual as our fingerprints when it comes to what we see.  Our brain and our eyes talk to each other, and the two of them decide what they want to show us.  Isn't that another one of the Creator's stunners?

"Look at your feet.
  You are standing in the sky.
  When we think of the sky,
 we tend to look up,
 but the sky actually begins at the earth."
  ~Diane Ackerman

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

My Rainbow

This isn't just any rainbow.  It's a rainbow over the farm where I grew up.  My brother and his family still live there, but now it's home to me only from a distance.

There wasn't an inch of this farm that my little feet didn't walk or skip across as I followed daddy fixing fences, bringing home the cows for milking, chopping bull thistles in the pasture, and trapping pocket gophers with my brother.  

There's a sorrow in my heart as big as the moon about the way my family split, leaving me in the dust.  There was no reason for it.  But, now that I'm older, I see life for what it really is....a crap shoot.  It's unpredictable, filled with problems, and risky business.  Bottom line, it's a gamble.

When families don't get along, it's sad, but it's okay.  The way I've dealt with the pain, is to ask myself, "Would I choose that person for my close relative?"  If the answer is no, well, then I let them dissolve into the nothingness relative they choose to be.  I sure wish I would have been smarter when I was younger, though.  My hair might still be dark brown.

When I did my year-long bible study, my greatest reward was learning an alternative meaning to Forgiveness.  I always thought that in order to forgive someone, I'd have to tell them I'm sorry, give them a hug, and go on like nothing happened.  Ah contraire.  There's another way to forgive someone, and that's by letting go.  It's hard to do, but it worked for me.  There came a day when I said to myself, "I can't take this crap anymore."  I cut the strings and let them go.  The funny part was their reaction.  There were those who would have preferred to keep throwing gas on the fire.  I turned away and thought to myself, go right ahead and burn yourself up.  It doesn't really matter to me anymore.

The root of our family problem wasn't my sibling and me, but it affected us majorly.  I honestly think he was torn between his married family and his birth family. Either way, the pain of losing him was the same.  It's so sad looking back at the empty days, weeks, months, and years without each other.  There were times that I so desperately needed my big brother's shoulders to lean on, but he was never there for me.  I'm just grateful that Our Creator installed a coping device in us so we can go on living with holes in our hearts.

Last evening's rainbow meant so much to me.  I'm assuming that Our Creator was trying to tell me that everything is okay so far as He's concerned.  Blue skies shine after the tear drops fell.    

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Columbine

Columbines on Rock Ledge
Limestone ledges for their beds, the Columbines ask for nothing but a place to blossom in the spring.  I grew up calling them Honeysuckles, but they have several names like Rock Bells, Cluckies, Jack-in-Trousers, Granny's Bonnets, and Dancing Fairies.

Don't they look like drips of paint that might have fallen from Mother Nature's paintbrush?  The legend is that the Columbine blossom resembles a circle of doves drinking from a fountain.   Thus, the name Columbine from the Latin word Columba, meaning dove.

As much as we love the flowers that grow in the wild, we love the flowers that come inside our home just as much.  Most of them are silk, won't wilt, nor die.  Our hanging baskets out on the patio are silk for the same reason.  Not only that, but we don't have to water them or vacuum up the dried leaves.  One of the tricks to neatness is finding ways to prevent the mess in the first place.

Flowers bring life and smiles into a home.  We have a year-round tree that gets shuffled from room to room, and we dress and accessorize her with the season.  Right now she's wearing a garland of yellow and white flowers that sing of spring.  Once in awhile a colorful bird will fly from its storage box and perch inside the branches for a bit of playfulness.  Much like the tiny rubber mouse that has lived on our brick fireplace for lord knows how many years.  It's a family tradition for the kids to move the mouse to a different spot on the fireplace each time they visit.

There are uncountable ways to have fun at home, without spending big bucks.  Garage sales are treasure chests of knick-knack patty-whack things to add spice and flavor to any room in the house.....like the ceramic turtle from Mexico that makes his way around the house.  
Thanks for stopping by. 


 "May your life be like a wildflower 
growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day." 
 - Native American Proverb 

Monday, May 07, 2012

Rooftop Whimsy

In a small Mississippi River valley town this stately structure assumes the roll of ancestor to its neighborhood.  Shrubs of white bridal wreath, with their arching fountain-like branches, add charm and hospitality to the gracious property.  I feel the urge to genuflect before its threshold.

The crowning glory of this home is the rooftop Belvedere that affords a splendid view of the  river basin formed by glaciers millions of years ago.  Wouldn't that have to be the ultimate of personal sanctuaries?

If it were mine, I'd have a cozy couch, fluffy pillows, fleecy blanket, a table lamp with 3-way light bulb, a telescope so I could watch the barges hauling grain up and down the river, my laptop, the classics to read, and earphones to listen to piano music.  All those rooftop luxuries would make me faint, I'm pretty sure.

My fertile imagination conjures up all sorts of scenarios about me living in this home.  I'd have a kitchen staff, a garden staff, a cleaning staff, and maybe even a chauffeur.  I'd have my friends over for afternoon tea parties, serve plates of dainty confections and fancy sandwiches, wear pretty clothes with my hair styled on top of my head.  Oh, and the fuzzy one would get her exercise bouncing up and down the steps behind me like she does now.

The little girl in me is always wondering what life was like in another time and in another place.  Maybe I think I'd be happy living in a tower, but honestly I think I'd be lonely and afraid up there all by myself.  I've heard spooky stories about creaking stairways and people from the past still living in these old houses, and they terrify me.

Hey, the more I think about it, I'm gonna file this in my memory album and be hunky-dory with life in my cozy home that wraps itself around me and keeps me safe as the proverbial bug in a rug.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Friday, May 04, 2012

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Morning Thunderstorm

The ceiling fans feel good, circulating the air in the house.  We're a household of cool temperatures and warm hearts.

For years I didn't want ceiling fans in our home.  I had this crazy notion that they belonged in a sultry and sweaty hotel lobby down in the tropics.  A couple of years ago I buckled, and one arrived in our living room and one in the den.  Now I'm the one coaxing for one in our upstairs bedroom. The central air doesn't cool the upstairs quite enough to our liking.

We woke up to hail hitting our windows, thunder, wind, and rain.  Thank heavens our vehicle was in the garage.  Now that summer storm season is here, that's one thing we'll have to be diligent about doing.  It's about 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.'  Hail storms have damaged our vehicles in the past, and our insurance company was very cooperative about settlements.  I remember when we had just bought a brand new Pontiac Grand Am, and I was caught in a hail storm on my way home from the office.  All I could do was pull off the road and cry as my car hood filled with dents.  We've adopted a household saying that if it doesn't have a heartbeat, it's not worth getting upset over.

Dark and threatening clouds in the northwest make the perfect backdrop for streaks of lightning.  Hubby is pleased that he took the time to mow the lawn yesterday.  Our house is surrounded by a freshly-groomed carpet of green.  Lots of intense color out there, considering the sun is nowhere to be seen.

Company is coming around noon.  It'll probably be too wet on the patio for a picnic, so we'll keep the visit indoors.  We'll see how the day plays out.  Burgers on the grill, a macaroni salad, a green bean hot dish will be served around noon, followed by an afternoon rhubarb cake dessert.  Our rhubarb crop this year is scanty, and all we salvaged was enough to try this cake recipe.

The recipe is made in layers:
1.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan.
2.  4 cups of thinly-sliced rhubarb
3.  1 cup sugar
4.  3 cups miniature marshmallows (I used the colored ones)
5.  A cake mix prepared according to directions.
6.  Bake according to mix directions, plus 10 minutes longer or until done.

We thought it only right to sample the cake before bed....wouldn't want to serve a bad cake, you know.  Whammo!  It's a winner and is gonna be the perfect dessert topped with a dollop of Cool Whip.....and, I just might warm up the caramel sauce and oozy goozy that over the top  of each piece before serving to my guests.

Even Mikey would like this one!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Saying Good-Bye to the Past

Today my mind is suffering writer's block, so I'll just scribble and doodle.

Yesterday we hauled out 20 boxes of stuff from our attic, drove them over to an auction house to be sorted and sold.  We're about half done up there.

Boy, I sure can get tired of a project in a hurry.  I can come up with the best excuses if I'm not enthused, but I'm disciplining myself to keep going even if it's filling just one box a day.

As I lay in bed last night, my muscles ached and weariness was all over me.  It's hard work throwing away the past.  The more tired I am, the easier it is for me to fall in a blue funk.  How can I part with my dolly's baby buggy, and how do I say good-bye to Gramma's mantle clock.  When it came time for me to say good-bye to Gramma's treadle sewing machine, that's when I hit the wall.  Nope.  Can't do it.

When I get to feeling sad about my age, I can't come to grips with me being 65.  How and when did that happen?  Wasn't it yesterday when I was a little girl standing by Gramma watching her sew me a dress out of colored feed  sacks?  Life has gone fast, and who knows how much time is left.

Guess I'll just keep on filling one box at a time.  A lot of stuff I'll sell, but there are a few things marked "precious"  that will stay with me for the long haul.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

May Day and Lei Day

Hubby will always remember the date his Dad died.  He was with his Mother when her door bell rang.  A little neighbor girl reached out and gave his Mother a May Basket she made for her.  Ahhh, the power of a child to lift heavy hearts.

The word 'may' is with us all year long.  How many times in a day does each of us use the word 'maybe.'  What  emotions must have filled the pilgrims as they walked down the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth England, hoping to find a place where they could practice any religion they wanted.  And, what about mayflies, mayhem, mayonnaise, mayors, maypole, and the mayday call for help.

May is said to have come from the Roman Fertility Goddess Maiesta, and Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May.  I could never wrap my head around a Mother's Day.  Shouldn't we honor them every day?  The mother who receives a bouquet of dandelions from her little boy or girl has to feel a delight that can't come FTD.  Anyway, that's how I would feel if I was a mother.

History hails May for Charles Lindbergh making the first solo Trans-Atlantic airplane flight in May of 1927, and Amelia Earhart is credited for being the first woman to do the same in 1932.

On May 13, 1917, three young children in Fatima, Portugal, saw a vision of, and given a message from, the Blessed Mother.

And, if I could be anywhere today, I'd choose Hawaii.  They're celebrating Lei Day.  Read about the festivities at www.hawaiimagazine.com/blogs/hawaii_today/2012/4/30HawaiiOahuWaikiki_Big_Island_Hilo_lei_day.

Hawaiian Lei
P.S.  If my cousin, Leilani, is reading this.......Happy Lei Day, my dear!