Friday, October 30, 2015

Who Is Asking?

Although it is my daughter's birthday today I write my post as much in advance as I can. This seems like a perfect Halloween story. I think.

I called my daughter to wish her Happy Birthday. She is the baby and she is now 42 years old. That makes me an old woman.

I asked her what was new with everyone at her house. I did not expect what I heard.

My oldest granddaughter got a phone call this morning. When she answered the phone a man said, "Hi," and asked her how she was.

Not knowing for sure who was calling she cautiously told him she was fine. He then began asking questions about other members of the family. Because she did not recognize his voice she would not give any information.

He tried to be persistent. Finally she told him that she had to leave for work and could talk no more. He asked her if she always worked on Saturday and wanted to know where she works. She hung up.

Later in the morning at about 9:00 my son answered a knock at his door. He is my youngest son and the father of my oldest granddaughter. The man at the door wanted to know where someone with the name of my daughter lives.

My son told him he did not know anyone by that name. The man tried to explain that my daughter owned a piece of property that he was interested in purchasing. My son insisted that he did not know her.

The man said that he worked on cars and wanted to have a place to open a repair shop. He had several small children and he just wanted to have a business so he could support them.

The man had an address where my daughter and her family used to live. He had driven by there and the house was empty. He really needed to know where she lived or at least how he could reach her.

My son told him again that he did not know her. Finally the man left.

My granddaughter and my son both called my daughter to tell her what happened. They had a chuckle about it.

All throughout the day the man called and texted my granddaughter. She did not answer him.

Since it was her birthday my daughter took the day off work. They watched old movies on TV all day. She was on her way upstairs when there was a knock at the door.

My daughter was slightly annoyed because she thought maybe my grandson had ordered a pizza as he had been threatening to do all afternoon. After all it was her birthday and they were goiung out to dinner.

My grandson answered the door. There stood a man asking for my daughter. Before my grandson could say anything my daughter said, "There is no one here by that name."

The man was very forceful and bordering on rude insisting that he knew she was there. He asked about all her brothers and me. He knew all the names.

My daughter is tiny but she grew up with three big (and large) brothers who always made sure nobody bothered her. As a result she still thinks she is invincible. She stands right up to anybody and runs her mouth truly believing that she cannot be hurt. So far she has been lucky.

She was at the door ready to toss the guy off her property. She turned slightly to the side. My daughter carries a gun (legally) and it was at her side near her waist.  The man quickly backed up and became so polite. She thinks he must have seen her gun.

My grandchildrens' father had gone to get information on the car the man was driving. He parked in the driveway of the empty house next door. It had no license plate.

So my daughter was telling me all of this as I wished her a happy birthday. I was shocked.

I asked if she had called the police. No. Had any of them called the police? No.

I explained in my most patient mother-voice that they needed to let the police in each city they live in know what happened. Even if the man has good intentions he has way too much access to where people are.

My granddaughter has two toddlers and she is not much bigger than my daughter. Her home may not be safe.

My son has three toddler granddaughters who spend a lot of time at his house. He and his wife live in the country. His home may not be safe. And we know that the man knows where it is.

My daughter has two children at home. They are both almost grown but they are not grown. Her home is not safe either.

I hope they all alerted their police departments. I am sure none of them did. So now I will worry.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sister Update

My sister had a stoke during the summer. It was originally thought to be mild but soon the doctors said that it was serious. Her left side is paralyzed. The whole side of her head was so swollen and she could not use her eye on that side. She tried to communicate but it was hard because her brain was slightly scrambled and her mouth would not cooperate at all.

To remove pressure from her swollen brain they did surgery and removed a piece of her skull which they stored in her leg hoping to be able to put it back into place someday.

She was progressing slowly but she was progressing. I was thrilled the day I was able to talk to her on the phone. Her speech was still slurred but I could understand her.

Once on the phone she told me that she was going in for surgery to replace her brain. Her thought processes were still not quite right but I knew what she meant. They were going to replace the piece of skull. The swelling was gone.

The surgery was performed earlier this month. I talked to her a few days ago and she sounds so good. Her speech is not perfect but she sounds like my sister again.

She asked me to send her some candy bars that are only made here. I promised to send her a box of them next week along with some puzzle books. She says she is bored.

My nephew, her son, said that is now seeing a little with her left eye. She told me that she is getting some feeling back in her left hand and she hopes to be able to use it soon.

She scared me half to death because suddenly she stopped talking. I kept calling her name but there was no response. We were not disconnected because there was no dial tone.

I sat and worried.

After a little while she called back. She had dropped the phone under her shoulder in the bed and could not reach it. She had to wait until her husband came in to rescue the phone. Thank goodness.

So she is wanting desperately to go home. If her insurance will cover it her husband can get a hospital bed for her. They have contacted a private nurse to care for her at home. She will still have to report back for her therapy but I know she will be so much happier at home.

This time of year is a time of remembrance for the family. My parents wedding anniversary was October 22. It is also the anniversary of the day my niece died at the age of 8. My brother's birthday was the 26th. He was killed in Viet Nam when he was only 20 years old... a baby. Another brothers birthday is coming up on the 3rd of November. Sadly he has also died.

These are the only members of my immediate family who have died. That the dates that remind me of them come so close together is one of those coincidences of life.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Great X Cape

What ever happened to grammar? Do they still teach it in school?

I do not speak using proper grammar all the time. But I do know the rules of grammar and the correct way to use my words. Slang and bad habits do tend to get in the way so I am not perfect either.

My mother expected me to be perfect of course. I was not allowed, for instance, to say "ain't". I still do not say it. My siblings had an easier time of it. I think most mothers want more for the first child.

One of the expressions I use on occasion is "a whole nother thing". It drove Mom crazy. Another is a combined word using the words an and other to make another. Nother is not a word. However I have the habit of using it.

But rather than call attention to all my grammar failings I really want to call attention to some of the things others do to drive me crazy. It is more fun and maybe someone will ease my mind a bit by taking my corrections to heart.

 I have no problem with slang. I understand regional ways of speaking. There are just some things that should not become everyday language. Actors, newscasters, singers, and voices for commercials need to use the correct way of speaking. Otherwise they just do not sound as intelligent.

The very worst is using x rather than esc. This has been common usage on "the street" for years. Now I hear people who are supposed to know how to speak doing it.

Rather than a criminal escaping from jail we hear the he/she has excaped. Expecially when an interview is done and we are told that officials were axed about the situation. This paragraph was hard to write because it grates so on my nerves.

Misuse of pronouns is another peeve. Pronouns are used to replace a noun. Pronouns have different forms. For instance "I am going to the store" uses I as a subject. But I should never say "Give that to I". Instead I would say "Give that to me". So why do so many people insist on saying "They will give it to you and I"? You and me is correct. If you are in doubt drop the pronoun "you". The right pronoun comes to you automatically.

Lately I have been seeing commercials in which the people talk about well-wishes. People who appear in the various forms of media thank their fans for all the well-wishes sent their way in a time of sorrow or pain.

When speaking of a person you wish that they feel well. You are speaking of the person. When you say well wishes you are speaking of the wishes. Proper grammar says that good wishes is the correct term.

Admittedly the use of good and well is confusing. I believe I am not always right when I use them but that phrase (well-wishes) sets me off.

Ending a sentence with a preposition is something of which I am often guilty. It is sheer laziness because I do not take the time to think ahead about what I wish to say.

Have you ever heard a happy couple announce, "WE are pregnant!"? No WE are not. The mother is pregnant because she is nurturing a child inside her body. WE are going to be parents or WE are looking forward to having a baby.

It is so cute when I see a small child say, " No I dinnet." The meaning is "No I didn't." It is not cute when adults say "dinnet".

It is a new thing on television to consult a relator when buying a house. It is spelled realtor and pronounced real-tor. Please.

Of huge irritation to me is the practice of dropping consonants in the middle of a word and replacing them with a hard non-sound. Cotton becomes co--on, button is bu--on, and didn't becomes di-n't. Dr Suesswould be dismayed to learn that "Hor-on Hears A Who". I know a young man whose mother proudly named her son Clinton. She ruined it by calling him Cli--on.

Now everyone take out your dictionaries and turn to the "O" section. The word often is listed. If you look at the pronunciation you will see that the word is pronounced "off-en" not "off-ten". I even have a child who mispronounces this word often. No amount of instruction changes her mind. Now her children (my adorable grandchildren) say it the same way their mother does.

In the great scheme of things these are probably not that important. At the same time the reason we set down rules for the way we use words is to have a common language. It is the way we communicate. Speaking and writing correctly should eliminate confusion rather than cause it.

Now that I have ranted I will feel better. At least until the next commercial shows someone looking at me and saying, "Let me axe you this." Maybe I will not scream.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Several years ago my son and I decided to become entrepreneurs. We talked a long time about how to go about it. We decided to rent a booth at one of the weekend flea markets in the area. First problem solved.

The next thing we had to figure out was what merchandise we would feature. We were not going to deal with used clothing. It takes up too much room and you have to have the right merchandise. Just not practical.

Household items were a consideration. Things like cooking spoons, salt and pepper shakers, pot holders. Inexpensive items that every house needs. But we could neither one get excited about that.

My son likes electronics and video games. At that time they were big sellers. Maybe we could buy and sell used games and game systems.

The problem with that is that I know nothing about that sort of thing. In order to sell something one must understand it.

I liked the idea of inexpensive but fun merchandise. As we tossed ideas around we talked about fun things for children. Most of the time children are dragged to flea markets and the only thing for them to do there is maybe grab a hot dog and a drink. We had our market.

Now what merchandise? Children love novelty items and little things that do not cost much. Parents do not like to give them a lot to spend because of the short attention span a child has.

We did a lot of research to find what products we would handle. Then we worked hard to find the best prices so we would not have to charge more than absolutely necessary. Then we bought the merchandise and set up shop.

We decided that the used video games and systems was a good idea so we included that in our booth. That was strictly my son's area but i could help a little.

We found several wholesale businesses for inexpensive jewelry. We had necklaces and earrings and a few bracelets. The only rings we carried were mood rings that are supposed to change color according to the way you feel.

There were small science projects that children could do by themselves. I like anything that helps children learn and have a good time.

Coloring books and sticker books were favorites. Parents liked to give permission for those.

Magic tricks are fun. Kids like to fool adults and magic is a skillful way to do that. We had disappearing coin boxes, color changing plastic balls, and books of simple magic tricks. We carried marked cards that are essential to any good magician.

We had a material that you could use to make it look like you pulled fire from the air. And there was the magic gelling beads that when put into a drink would turn it into a solid.

One of my son's favorite novelties is the squirting nickel. You tell your unsuspecting victim that if you look closely at the building on the nickel you can actually see the watering system for the lawn. When the person leans in close for a good look you squeeze the nickel and it squirts them in the face.

We had key chains. Only a few at a time (maybe a few dozen). Then we would find another kind. For instance we might have miniature tools on the key chain then when those were gone we would have trolls dolls.

Penny candy is something I have fond childhood memories about. That was something we did not make nuch money on but I enjoyed having it. We sold other candy that cannot be found everywhere. There are candy bars from the area where I grew up that are not available throughout the country. We had those.

We sold candy necklaces and bracelets and rings. Wax lips, wax pop bottles filled with liquid, jaw breakers, and safety pops. Good sugary treats for all.

We also had astronaut ice cream and other astronaut treats. You can find them all over the place now but at the time they were a novelty.

I like toys for children that make noise. So we had kazoos, slide whistles, and duck calls are noisy. So are tambourines, triangles, and those little ducks you fill with water to make them chirp when you blow into them.

We had to stop carrying stink bombs. It was a shame because they were VERY popular. Unfortunately some of the older children would take them to a nearby store and set them off. And my niece was nearly expelled from school (a nice Catholic school) after someone dared her to set one off there.

But we still carried things like those little poppers that explode when you throw them hard at the ground. There were made of mylar or something similar that you would squeeze and toss. When the "grenade" swelled too much it would burst open making an exploding noise.

Balloons are a staple for any child. They came in bags of 10. And punching balls are not much more than a very sturdy balloon on a sturdy string that returns after being punched. I even found miniature punching balls filled with liquid.

Sticky toys are not appreciated by parents but children love them. Many look like animals and you toss them at the wall. Gravity pulls them down but instead of falling they flip over and over to "walk" down the wall.

I think I like paddle balls more than children do but they still sold eventually. I guess they are like rubber chickens. I find them hilarious but no one else seems to like them.

Clackers are usually in a ball shape. Sometimes there are two held together by a string or plastic arms. The balls are covered in a material that makes an exploding sound every time they bang against each other. Parents hate them but the kids love them.

A small but sturdy half ball of plastic makes a popper. When it is turned inside out and placed on a hard surface it will turn itself right side out and suddenly fly into the air. Jumping beans will jump around when you hold them in your hand.

Rattlesnake eggs are a fun trick. A manilla envelope about the size of a recipe card holds the eggs. You explain that the eggs are very volatile. If you hold them too long in your warm hands they will hatch. Even newly hatched rattlesnakes are poisonous.

Of course someone will want to see them. Again you caution them to be careful not to hatch the eggs as they gently lift the flap of the envelope. When they squeeze the sides to peer inside at the eggs the envelope suddenly rattles! (There is a wire coil that you wound before letting your victims know what you have. When the pressure of the envelope is lessened the coil quickly unwinds making a rattling sound. )

Frogs are fun. Some have hard tails that when pressed will cause them to jump. Others have front legs that are elastic and fastened together. Those you can shoot like rubber bands to make them fly.

But our biggest seller was... wait for it... THE WHOOPIE CUSHION. I want somebody to tell me that they know a child who does not find those noises hilarious. And if they can get a cushion placed under an adult who does not notice it there they will laugh for days.

We got lucky and found a wholesaler who sold them to us for a very low price. In a local store with a toy department they cost almost $4.00 each. We were able to sell the same brand for 50 cents. And we had several different sizes.

I have not listed so many of the fun things we sold. They were all inexpensive; most cost no more than a dollar.

The video games and systems were more expensive of course. My son would test each item brought to us. Because he knows about that sort of thing he knew what they were worth. He would make a fair offer. Most of the time he closed the deal.

Then we resold them. The prices were as low as we could make them while we still made a profit. Sometimes we simply traded for games the customer was tired of.

These were our high end items because they cost more than most of the rest of our merchandise. It was quite successful.

The company that was operating the flea market was having monetary difficulties. Many of the people operating booths there were losing money. A lot of them folded and went home. Eventually only the booths making a profit were the one that sold trading cards and collectible coins and ours.

We had great fun. We met a lot of nice people. We made a little money. Whoopie!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Weird Dog.

My son's dog is weird. Every dog we have ever owned has its own quirks but she is just strange.

She is about 4 years maybe 5 years old now. She has a lot of female dog qualities. She is possessive and protective. But she will still frolic and act goofy the same way a male puppy does.

We do not let her run loose but she has a rather ingenious run created by my ex-husband for his dogs. A light chain is fastened to her collar. The other end of the chain is fastened to a cable strung between two large trees. She has the run of the entire yard this way. There is also a tether for the other door in case we let her out that way.

When she wants to out we simply ask her to show us and she will go to the door that she wants to use. Once it is dark outside she prefers the front yard. I think she is afraid of the dark myself.

The dog even sits funny. Most dogs sort of rest on the side of their haunches with the hind legs curled off to one side and the front paws on the floor. This dog sits directly flat on her rear with her hind legs stretched straight out in front of her with front legs to balance. If she were sitting in a chair her hind legs would just hang down because she is sitting like a human.

The dog is extremely sensitive to noises. One night shortly after I moved here I was on my way to bed. The dog and my son were already in my son's room. I turned off the lights in the kitchen on my way to my room.

It was raining that night. Just as I looked out the window on my way to bed there was a huge crack of thunder and I saw lightning strike something just across the river.

Of course I had to stand there to see if it would happen again. (I know)  My son came out of his room laughing. His dog had jumped into the air and hurled herself to him for protection. It was a couple of years before she was once again not terrified of thunder.

Now I understand that all animals have basically the same bodily functions as humans. But I have to tell you that I honestly never heard a dog burp before. And she snores... loud. And she passes gas that has threatened to drive us out of the house. We ended up having to get some pills for her and they really help.

She loves her toys. She has a pile of them in a corner of the living room. She knows they are hers and she goes and root through the pile to find the one she wants. Usually when she is finished with it she will put it back in the pile.

When we go to the grocery store we buy her a little toy. Most of them cost no more than a dollar. When we bring the bags of groceries into the house she starts sniffing to see which one holds her toy. She is so happy to get her new toy.

We try not to get cloth toys too often. She finds the noisemaker inside them and sets about chewing until she makes a hole and gets it out. Then she pulls those cottony puffs out and they are all over. But she likes those toys under her head when she sleeps.

We found a cheap squeaky hamburger and hot dog. I knew she would love them. I was wrong. She wanted nothing to do with them. I think she was rather insulted by them.

This is a really lazy dog. She put on a lot of weight a couple of years ago. She has lost most of it but she was fat.

Getting into the truck had been easy for her. All she would do is hop in. Then came the day that she went to hop in and sort of missed. She hit her chin pretty hard. Ever since she will place her front paws up and wait for my son to lift her up. Lazy.

The dog wants to talk. She will try to copy noises my son makes at her. There are times when we are having a conversation and she will try so hard to join in. She wants to be heard and understood.

When I go to cook the evening meal she will jump up and immediately start asking for "foooooood". Or if I do not feel like cooking she will say it trying to remind me that it is time to cook. Once my son opens a can of dog food for her she is happy.

A couple of years ago we had a lot of katy-dids. They are they locusts that you hear singing on a warm summer night. I kind of like to listen to them at night.

The dog had been outside and wanted in. My son let her in and suddenly we heard a strange buzzing noise. Being the calm rational person that I am I immediately went to check the stove to see if it was going to explode. (I know).

My son and I were looking all over trying to find the source of the buzzing noise. As we zeroed in we realized it was the dog.

She had a katy-did in her mouth and did not want to let it loose. When she finally opened her mouth out popped this huge locust. My son had a devil of a time catching it. I did not try because I was laughing too hard.

The dog is weird.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Little Squirrelly

I love to lounge in bed in the morning. I have never been a person to jump up and greet the day. Now that I am retired I really enjoy taking the time to awaken slowly.

As I lie there I look out the window across the room from my bed and glory in the morning sights. I can see what type of weather I can expect that day. I can watch the changing of the seasons.

And occasionally I see animals. Sometimes I hear animals too. The squirrels like to run across the roof. There are times they sound like horses up there.

Sometimes a bird will land on the windowsill. It will jerkily look around the way birds do. It might even try to get a good look at what is happening on my side of the window. I watch with fascination.

Last week something hit the window. I am assuming it was a bird because I saw the trajectory of whatever it was. It came from up and ricocheted down. I did jump up to see what it was but I saw nothing on the ground and nothing moving away.

I watched a huge bird that looked like a blue jay sit there one morning. It kept trying to see inside. My window is slightly darkened to keep the sun from shining in my eyes and I do not think it could see inside.

So last week I was just lazily waking up when suddenly a squirrel jumped from the roof to my windowsill. It found a helicopter (oak tree seed) there and nibbled at it. I had a fun time watching the little guy.

Then he decided to snoop through the window. Again I do not think he could see inside. But when he began to push at the window. Then he sort of knocked at the window trying to push it out of the way. When he get more forceful I decided it was time for him to move on before he broke the glass.

I waved my hands at him but he could not see that. I grabbed a couple of things from my night stand and tossed them at the window but missed.

Finally I used the empty water bottle. I tossed it at the window and hit it! The squirrel looked amused.

I had to haul myself out of bed and go knock on the window. That got his attention. He took off like a rocket and ran up a tree at the corner of the yard.

The rotten little guy made me get up and get dressed earlier than I intended. But he was fun to watch.

Friday, October 9, 2015

How Much Do You Make?

I am not asking you a personal question. I actually do not wish to know how much you make. But you should.

Of course you know your salary. That is the money your employer pays you. Whether you are paid weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly you receive a monetary payment for your efforts.

Of course we all wish that we made more money. It seems like there is never enough. Perhaps you work for a business that gives periodic raises in pay. That helps because you know that you will have a little bit more money to use.

But there is more to your wages than you normally think.

Do you get paid vacation time each year? That is part of your wages. You are being paid to relax and renew yourself. Employers who are smart give you a vacation because they know that an employee who feels fresh will do a better job.

Paid breaks also give you a chance to get away from the work for a few moments. It provides a good work environment. Some employees even receive a paid lunch but that is not as common. Because you are paid this is part of your wage package.

Maternity and paternity leave is another part of your wage package. The ability to nurture a new baby in those important first days was not always allowed. At any rate the knowledge that you have a job to return to is a guarantee that you will be able to support your child.

Sick days and personal days are days that your employer pays you even when you are not at work. You do not lose your salary because you are ill or if you need to take care of personal business during work hours. Again this is part of your wage package.

If for some reason you are laid off from work for a while you are entitled to unemployment benefits. You are paid (even if it is less than your normal wages) while you either wait to be called back to work or while you look for a new job. The money for these payments comes from a fund that your employer pays into. Wage package.

Most employers pay for a life insurance policy for employees. Usually it is the equivalent of approximately one years salary. As long as you are employed your family will have a bit of a cushion if something happens to you. This is also a part of your wages.

The same thing applies for health insurance. These days employees usually pay a premium that is deducted from their paycheck. But that premium is a small fraction of what you would pay if you were to purchase health insurance on your own. Health insurance is one of the best parts of your wage package.

If bonuses are given at your place of business they are added into the rest of your salary on your W-2 forms. That is proof that bomuses are part of the wage package.

Retirement funds are another part of the wage package. You may pay into a part of a pension fund. Or you may have a 401K or something. Sometimes the employer matches funds. Either way they help facilitate the payments and often you get a better deal because it is a group program.

There may be other benefits offered by your employer that I did not include. And not all of these benefits are offered by all employers. I am making a point here.

This is an election year. I will not endorse or belittle any candidate here. But any politician who wants to cut back on any part of these is cutting your wages. It is the hidden items that can hurt you. Be informed when making your choices.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Family Traditions

The traditions I refer to in the title are not things like holiday rituals or alcoholism. The things I am talking about are more like family legends. They are things we feel are unique to us and we have a lot of fun with them.

The seeds of oak trees have a "tail" on them. It is almost see through and is flat. It is wider at the end than it is at the seed. If you throw them into the air they spin and float to the ground. We call them helicopters. A handful of helicopters thrown at the same time is a sight to see.

My second granddaughter took a handful of helicopters to her second story bedroom. She tossed them into the air from her room. Some went up and floated straight down. Some just went straight down. Some caught little flows of air and went to the sides before floating down. It was spectacular.

My family considers snapdragons to be our family flower. My father delighted in taking a snapdragon to show a child how he could make the dragon open and close its mouth by gently squeezing the sides of the blossom.

When my mother died in a cold January I asked the florist if it would be possible to have arrangements made of summer flowers because she loved them so. It was possible. We were all thrilled to see snapdragons in the arrangements. When I asked my oldest son if he would like to leave anything with his grandmother he told me to take some snapdragons from the arrangements. So Mom was buried holding our family flowers.

Most members of the family like rain. We walk in it and we dance in it. Or maybe we just sit on the porch and watch it come down. A good storm is a delight with rolling thunder and an occasional flash of lightning.

When my oldest granddaughter was about 8 years old she came in and said, "Grandma, I smell rain coming. Do you want to come out on the porch to watch with me?" Of course I went right out and we had a wonderful time.

If you drive by a house where someone in our family lives and it is raining you might very well see people out dancing in the rain. From the oldest to the youngest we spin and twirl to celebrate the cleansing of the earth.

Gremlins are those troublesome little creatures who cause glitches in mechanical items. My father claimed that he brought one with him when he married my mother. The gremlin's name is Petey. Whenever an appliance or a car would act up we all blamed Petey.

Then I married a man of Irish descent. Suddenly we had leprechauns too. They were the ones hiding car keys and misplacing important papers. How many families can be so lucky as to have both gremlins and leprechauns?

I told my second granddaughter about feathers. The belief is that whenever you find a feather, especially a white one, a loved one who has died is watching over you. My granddaughter is constantly finding feathers. She even tells us who is thinking of her.

My granddaughter idolized my mother-in-law and two of my sisters-in-law. All of them are gone now. When my granddaughter found three feathers, all separate but in the same place, she knew they were from her great-grandma and her two great-aunts.

Have you ever seen a slope and wished you could just roll down? We do it all the time. It is freeing to be at the top and lie down and roll over and over until you are at the bottom.

My husband's parents owned a small farm in the Loess Hills. As soon as my children arrived on the farm when visiting the first thing they asked to do was climb the hill behind the house and roll down. Soon after there would be what they called "walking the hills".

Sadly after the deaths of both my mother-in-law and father-in-law the farm was sold. But happily the man who bought it has welcomed members of our family and allowed them to "walk the hills" and roll down the hill. He is a nice man.

As you can see it takes little to make a family tradition. It could be your evening walk as you point out interesting sights in the neighborhood. All that is important is that they create cherished memories that are carried to adulthood. Then they will try to re-create the same memories for their children. And the cycle continues.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Practical And Artistic

I have told you before that my mother was the most intelligent woman I have ever known. But perhaps she was the most talented too.

Mom planted a garden every year. In it she grew all the vegetables we could eat. Sometimes we did not plant corn because it takes up so much room to get a decent yield and it does tend to suck the nutrients from the soil. We did not usually plant potatoes because again they took a lot of space to make it worth while.

Her garden always had a variety of flowers. And lots of zinnias. She liked zinnias because they come in such a wide variety of colors and sizes.

If we did not have fruit trees Mom and Daddy would buy bushels of fruit when the farmers brought them to town. Most fruits were not available unless they were in season back then.

When things grew and ripened we had salads, soups, and stews with all those fresh foods. Fresh vegetables with supper every day.

But there was way too much for us to eat while it was fresh. Mom canned a lot. A day might be devoted to canning tomatoes for instance. Then green beans. You get the idea.

The fresh fruit was also canned. We had jars of fruit all winter. But better than that she made jellies, jams, and fruit butters. All delicious on toast.

Cucumbers as well as several other things like watermelon rinds became homemade pickles. Homemade are the very best kind and Mom's were definitely the best of the best.

The flowers were pretty in the garden and other spots around the yard. But Mom turned them into beautiful arrangements to keep the inside of the house pretty too.

She made homemade cottage cheese when I was smaller. It was the only kind I would eat for years. She even rendered lard if we butchered a hog.

Most of our clothes were made by Mom. With so many children and so little money it was cheaper to buy material and make them.

Mom would hold a newspaper up to measure me for the size. Then she would decide on the style and cut out a pattern from the paper.

She made dresses and blouses and skirts and shirts. She tried making blue jeans for the boys one year but decided that store bought wore better so she bought the boys jeans for school.

My favorite winter coat of all time was the one Mom made from Daddy's Navy pea coat. It was stylish and the warmest coat I ever had.

When I was quite young Mom started to make Christmas ornaments. We had a lot of ornaments that we had purchased but she liked to make things.

She learned how to fold strips of paper to make an ornament. Then she would dip them in wax and they would hold their shapes forever. A little bit of food coloring in the wax gave us several different colors.

We used pine cones, glitter, and paint to make decorations. Mom always gave us projects to do too. I think she believed we were all as artistic as she was. I definitely was not but I had fun.

Mom would buy a large amount of those shiny silky Christmas balls. With beads and straight pins and maybe a little rick-rack she would make the prettiest ornaments.

My mother could draw too. She liked a still life the best.

She liked to paint as well and did some very nice pictures. She used both oils and watercolors.

The year she was experimenting with charcoals she drew pictures of our teachers for us to give them at Christmas.

Mom was also an author. She had several short stories published in women's magazines when I was a child. Her writing style was a little too "flowery" for my taste. Mom loved adverbs and adjectives which was the style from when she was younger. But her stories were good.

As you can see a lot of my mother's artistry was put to use for practical purposes. But she was still able to express herself and that was important to her. We were the beneficiaries of it all.