Friday, December 30, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Promises, Promises

It is that time of year again. People are deciding what resolutions to make for the new year.

Resolutions are supposed to be the promises we make to ourselves to try to enrich our lives. We mean to begin the improvements as the new year begins.

A New Years resolution can be as simple as promising to say "I love you" more often. It can be as difficult as swearing not to kill your spouse this year. There is a lot of room in between as well.

The problem with deciding to make this year the year you will stop smoking is that it could be a hard promise to keep. Most smokers have done so for a long time. Sometimes it takes a long time to quit. And as we all know if something is difficult we do not necessarily put in the effort needed to accomplish our goals.

Most New Years Resolutions are abandoned within a few days. We make them with good intentions but our flesh is weak. So we think maybe we will resume dieting next week when the holiday goodies are all gone and the temptation is less. Somehow next week never comes.

So with the above in mind and with personal experience I resolved many years ago to make no resolutions. It has worked quite well. I do not disappoint myself. I feel no sense of failure.

What I do is if I see a problem that needs fixing I try to fi it. This might happen in May or September. Deal with it when it happens. It seems to work better for me.

To those who do make resolutions I wish you the utmost luck. And I hope you are able to accomplish what you wish to do.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Must Be Santa

Merry Christmas

"Must Be Santa"

Who's got a beard that's long and white
Santa's got a beard that's long and white

Who comes around on a special night
Santa comes around on a special night

Special Night, beard that's white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Clause

Who wears boots and a suit of red
Santa wears boots and a suit of red

Who wears a long cap on his head
Santa wears a long cap on his head

Cap on head, suit that's red
Special night, beard that's white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Clause

Who's got a big red cherry nose
Santa's got a big red cherry nose

Who laughs this way HO HO HO
Santa laughs this way HO HO HO

HO HO HO, cherry nose
Cap on head, suit that's red
Special night, beard that's white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Clause

Who very soon will come our way
Santa very soon will come our way

Eight little reindeer pull his sleigh
Santa's little reindeer pull his sleigh

Reindeer sleigh, come our way
HO HO HO, cherry nose
Cap on head, suit that's red
Special night, beard that's white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Clause

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen,
Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen

Reindeer sleigh, come our way
HO HO HO, cherry nose
Cap on head, suit that's red
Special night, beard that's white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Clause 


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake

Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake Lyrics

As I sat in my window last evening, the letterman
brought it to me
A little gilt-edged invitation sayin' "Gilhooley come
over to tea"
I knew that the Fogarty's sent it. So I went just for
old friendships sake.
The first think they gave me to tackle was a slice of
Miss Fogarty's cake.

There were plums and prunes and cherries,
There were citrons and raisins and cinnamon, too
There was nutmeg, cloves and berries
And a crust that was nailed on with glue
There were caraway seeds in abundance
Such that work up a fine stomach ache
That could kill a man twice after eating a slice
Of Miss Fogarty's Christmas cake.

Miss Mulligan wanted to try it, but really it wasn't no
For we worked in it over an hour and we couldn't get
none of it loose
Till Murphy came in with a hatchet And Kelly came in
with a saw
That cake was enough be the powers above for to
paralyze any man's jaws

Miss Fogarty proud as a peacock, kept smiling and
blinking away
Till she flipped over Flanagan's brogans and she spilt
the homebrew in her tea
Aye Gilhooley she says you're not eatin, Try a little
bit more for me sake
And no Miss Fogarty says I, for I've had quite enough
of your cake

Maloney was took with the colic, O'Donnell's a pain in
his head
McNaughton lay down on the sofa, and he swore that he
wished he was dead
Miss Bailey went into hysterics and there she did
wriggle and shake
And everyone swore they were poisoned just from eating
Miss Fogarty's cake

Friday, December 16, 2016

Merry Bloody Xmas

"Merry Bloody Xmas"

I had a big night last night
Drinking Molson X
And on the way home
I got in three wreX
I woke up this morning
Took 2 Somin-x
That wife of mine
She's now my "x"
Well, I got myself evicted
From my duplex
Moved into a half-ton van, with an "X" (annex)
Fridge full of beer
My ole' dog ReX
At least I got another wife
She's now my "X"


Merry Xmas, to me
The dog threw up all over the Xmas tree
They re-posessed
My color TV
Merry Bloody Xmas, to me

My car's off the road
For having D-feX
I said to myself, "Geesh what next"
My wife dropped in
For "Alimony Checks"
So I threw her in the lake
Now she's my wet X


So I sat there drinking
All my Molson X
Chuckin the empties
To my ole' dog Rex
Stupid bloody mutt
Stuck his head in the Moulin-X
You guessed it
He's now my X- Rex


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Getting Married

My parents raised me to be an independent thinker. I am also not afraid of hard work although I would rather sit back with a good book and a cup of tea. I never developed a taste for coffee so tea it is.

When my husband and I decided to marry I did not tell my family. There were several reasons. One was that independence. I was used to doing things my own way... within the limits of house rules of course. Also my family had very little money and could not afford a wedding.

The main reason was that my parents did not approve of my boyfriend. Now that I am a mother I understand that no one would have been good enough for me but at the time my rebellious nature took hold. I have to tell you now that my parents came to love him very much and he loved them as much.

I met my husband on a Saturday night. That was the night all the kids "hung out" downtown. He was driving around with a couple of his friends and I was with my sister and a couple of my friends. It was shortly after Christmas. We made a date for New Years Eve. The guys would pick us up at my house.

In the meantime my sister and I were out past curfew and my parents grounded us. When the guys came to pick us up we had to go down and tell them that we could not go with them. They wanted us to just get in the car and go. My girlfriend said she was not grounded and she was going. My sister and I decided to go too. So we jumped in the car and took off. I saw my father running after the car and yelling.

We rode around for a while. That was what kids did then unless the drive-in theater was open. We had a good time. Except for wondering what was going to happen when we got home that is.

My parents were furious. My father actually spanked us. With a belt! He did not hurt us. It was one of those times that he needed to do something and a spanking seemed to be in order. We were re-grounded with a much longer sentence.

Eventually my soon-to-be boyfriend got brave enough to come around again. My parents gave us permission to go out but it was not happily.

So we dated and eventually decided to get married. I was out of high school and working at the hospital. He worked for a farmer that lived less than a mile from the farm my family had moved to.

But we still wanted to pay for the wedding ourselves so we made arrangements to stack bales of hay for a neighbor of his parents. That was when I learned to drive a truck.

To gather the bales of hay for stacking we had an old farm truck with a flatbed trailer behind it. Attached to the truck was a machine that, if correctly positioned while the truck was moving, would act as an elevator and deposit the bales on the flatbed. The person on the flatbed had to retrieve them and place them in order on the trailer.

Bales of hay are deceptive. One might weigh 50 pounds while the next might be 75 pounds. You never knew what you were going to get until you tried to lift it. So my husband decided that I should drive the truck and he would arrange the bales on the truck.

When the trailer was full we would drive to the spot to stack the bales. Then the bales were lifted from the flatbed to the stack and put in place so they would be secure.

I was doing quite well at centering the bales so the elevator would pick them up. I was driving right along until there was a knock on the door of the truck. I had turned too fast on a little hill and dumped my boyfriend and several bales off the truck. I was a bit more careful after that and we had no more accidents.

My boyfriend's father came to see how we were doing. I was up on the stack of bales arranging them and my boyfriend went over to talk to his father. His father was furious. He told his son to get up there and not let me do all that hard work.

His father and I both worked at the hospital. Soon after that he was going around telling anybody who would listen that I was going to be his daughter-in-law. I guess he liked my gumption.

So we had the money for everything. The problem was that in our state he was too young to marry without parental consent. He went to his mother to get her to sign the paper. I went with him.

She refused at first. Finally she relented and signed. She told us not to "tell Dad" that she had signed. She had no idea that he approved.

So we went to get the license.We had the blood test results and the permission slip. Unfortunately we had not known that the state laws were slightly stricter than we thought.

At the desk the woman told us that even with parental consent he could not marry unless I was pregnant. Was that the case? He quickly nodded and said, "Yes." I turned many shades of red. Of course I was not pregnant. And she required proof from a doctor. No license that day.

We finally found that across the border the state would marry us if he was as old as I was. He made a slight change on the consent form and we got our license there.

We were married by a retired clergyman there. He and his wife were so nice. The ceremony was conducted in their home.

We were going to live in a farm house owned by the farmer my husband worked for. It was common for farmers to buy other farms and rent out the houses on them. Sometimes they became part of the wage package. We spent our first night there.

The plan was to get up first thing in the morning and go tell my parents. Instead we woke up to my father standing over our bed. He told me to get dressed and he took me home.

My brother was there too. He was letting the air out of my husband's car tires.I have no idea how he finally managed to reach someone to help him air them.

I spent my first full married day at my parent's house crying my eyes out. My mother insisted the marriage would be annulled. My husband would drive by or stop in the middle of the road and try to get me to go with him.

The problem was that I had been their daughter a lot longer than I had been his wife. I could not go.

That night Daddy began to soften. He could see how miserable I was. That night he told me he would see if he could get Mom to bend a little too.

The next morning when I got up my mother-in-law was there with my husband. She sensibly explained that we were married. Maybe they should let us be married.  I went home with my husband.

When I tell my children this story they are amazed. It is very hard to explain how we were raised to obey our parents. Even though I was grown (and now married) I was still their daughter.

It took very little time for everyone to make up. Soon we were a big happy family again.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Big Move

It is the middle of the night and I am feeling blue. This does not happen to me often but I thought if I share it perhaps it will help.

My brother-in-law called me late this afternoon. My sister has been in the hospital for about a week. As you might remember she had a stroke a few years ago. She is still unable to move her left side. She is able to speak clearly and her mind is working the way it should.

She is in the hospital because of breathing problems. Because she cannot move by herself her lungs tend to fill with fluid. Even with the hospital bed and raising the top of the bed she cannot sit up. That is a common thing with bed-ridden people. Fluid in the lungs.

My brother-in-law has been taking care of her and their house for all this time. Occasionally a therapist comes in to keep her muscles moving because she can not do it herself. That is when my brother-in-law tried to run to the store or do other quick errands. That way she would not be alone.

So my brother-in-law told me that my sister is being released from the hospital late tomorrow morning. She is being transported to a nursing home or as they call it a long-term care facility to make it sound nicer. He said she was feeling nervous about the move and wanted me to give a call.

Of course I called her right away. That was when I found out he was actually in the room with her. She needed me to call her instead of him handing her his phone.

She told me she was a little nervous about going to the home. I told her I understood that it was an unknown and a little worrisome.

I let her talk at first while I just made those "I'm listening" noises. Then I started asking questions and making statements.

They have been talking for a while about her going to a place like this. Her husband saw the facility and told me it was very nice. She knew it was coming but she was a little afraid. That was when he promised her that he would visit her every day. Her son also lives nearby and I know he will also visit every day. I need to call him tomorrow because I know he will be upset too.

I told her I knew that she was isolated and bored at home. Her husband was trying to do everything. That meant there was not a lot of time for him to simply sit and visit for long periods of time.

I pointed out that she would make friends with the nurses who would be in and out of her room all day. There would be therapists doing the same. And knowing my sister I am sure she will make friends with some of the ambulatory patients and they could visit with her.

She told me she would have a roommate and I told her she would have a captive audience.

I am hoping they will be able to take her out in the sun once in a while. I told her that they will have crafts and other activities to keep her mind busy. If they have wheel chairs that she can sit in she could maybe go to a community room to socialize. Maybe she could play checkers or something.

She told me about a feature they had that she thought might be fun. Unfortunately I cannot remember what it was.

She mentioned that they would have to get her a television for her room. I suggested checking on EBay. I got my son a laptop for Christmas there. I have already given it to him because he too is bored out of his mind. But I digress. Maybe they can find a good deal there.

Then I told her, "If they do not take care of you call me. I will fix it. If they leave wrinkles in the sheets call me. If they try to make you eat something you do not like call me. I will fix it." I also told her she can call just to complain if she wants to. (She used to be a pro at that.)

She told me that her husband told her that if she does not like it there he will take her back home. That is a good thing. But I told her to give it a few days. She will probably hate it for at least a couple of days and she will need time to get over that.

I did not say that she will probably never be completely happy there. Who would be? But I think the extra people there will be good for her.

As we wound down the conversation I promised to call after she has time to settle in tomorrow. Late afternoon or early evening should give her time.

She sounded so little and forlorn. I think she probably cried when we hung up our phones. I heard the quiver in her voice.

I think more than anything she is afraid of being forgotten. I can certainly understand that. I hope it works out for her. She is so frustrated with not being able to take care of herself. It has to be scary.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Use That Snow For Cooking

It is winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Many places have had a lot of snow. Some of those places are not used to having all that white stuff. I have a few ways to use snow that are tasty and will make a dent in the amount of snow in your yard.

The most obvious use of snow is to make it into a liquid. If nice clean snow is heated it can make tea, coffee, and hot cocoa. All of these go well with toast or cookies. The best part is that it takes no more work than using water.

Snow is great for the liquid in soup. And you can use whatever ingredients you like to go into the luscious liquid. I always say there is no way you can hurt a soup.

My father used to take his boy scouts camping. Each boy brought one 15 ounce can of food from home. The labels were removed by Mom or Dad before the boys left home. My father and the other men who were involved would pitch in and supply the meat.

On the day of the soup a huge pot was brought forth and put on the campfire. The meat was browned and then each can was opened and dumped into the pot. For additional liquid snow was used. The soup was always good even when spinach and pork and beans were some of the ingredients.

Now you know I like to keep the children busy and active. Give them each a large plastic container or bucket. Make sure to tell them to get only clean snow then turn them loose in the yard. This will give you time to get your materials together.

Snow cones are fun. You can make a syrup from Kool-Aid and sweetener or buy flavored syrups. A variety of flavors is a good idea because if there are more than two children, someone will not like one that the others like. Mixing flavors is fun too. A small plastic cup or glass will be needed for each child. When they bring their snow use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to fill the container with snugly packed snow. Have the children pour enough syrup over the snow to give a robust color but not melt the snow. Straws and spoons complete what you must have to let the children enjoy.

Sugar on snow is another fun treat. It is traditionally made when the maple sap is harvested. Heat the syrup to soft boil (about 234 degrees Fahrenheit). I use a candy thermometer because it takes out the guess work. The children can tightly pack the snow into small bowls. Pour the hot syrup over the packed snow without stirring. The syrup will harden into a taffy-like candy as soon as it hits the cold snow. The children can twirl it around forks or popsicle sticks and eat. This treat is often served with sour pickles to cut the sweetness of the candy.

Who likes ice cream? It is super easy to make with snow. You will need a large bowl and a large spoon. Put 8 cups of snow into the bowl. Add one can of sweetened condensed milk and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Stir well. Serve in cones or dishes immediately.

Baobing is a dessert made in many Asian countries. From simple beginnings it has evolved into something a little more elaborate. Use a soup bowl and create a large mound of firmly packed snow. Pour fruit with its own syrup over the top. You can cheat and use canned pie filling. Then pour sweetened condensed milk over that or top it with whipped cream.

Perhaps we should make something that will stick to the ribs. Snow pancakes have been made in Great Britain for centuries. They gained popularity during World War II when sugar and baking soda were in short supply. Mix 1 cup of firmly packed snow, 1 cup of flour, 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups of milk, and a pinch of salt together to make the batter. Heat butter or oil in a skillet and drop spoonfuls of the batter into the skillet. When the top bubbles, flip and cook until golden. Serve with whatever topping you enjoy. I have read that adding even 1 tablespoon of snow to your regular pancake batter with make the pancakes fluffier.

So let it snow. We will follow the adage that says, "When life gives you snow, use it for cooking!"

Friday, December 2, 2016

Hold Please

My son wanted a smart phone. Understandable. This is a technological age after all.

He waited anxiously for Black Friday sales. He knew what he wanted and knew it would be available and affordable that day.

When the day came he went to the site online. There was the phone he wanted. He placed the order. Almost.

There was a problem with the order.  He did not receive the email confirmation of the order as the web site said he would.

Did they notify him that there was a problem? Of course    not.

He found a contact number so he could call them. He asked them why he did not receive notification. Oh they could not fill the order because there was a mix-up on the order itself. They were "so sorry".

Could they help him make the necessary corrections so the order would go through? No. They were "so sorry".

What they could do is cancel the order so he could reorder. Unfortunately the charge for the original order would not be corrected for up to 5 business days. He reluctantly agreed.

My son went back online. He reordered the phone. I helped with some of it. Everything went as it should. He received his notification by email. Yay!

The phone would arrive the following Tuesday. It did. Yay!

After thoroughly reading all the paperwork that came with the phone my son went online to activate his new phone.  Things were progressing swimmingly.

Then he entered the zip code for our address. Error. He realized he was supposed to enter the zip code his old phone was registered to. He entered that. Error.

He called again to find out what was wrong. Gee golly. They were "so sorry" he was having a problem. They did not know what was wrong. Did he try typing in his zip code? Perhaps he should use the zip code of the store for his old carrier and see if that would work. Guess what. Error.

My son was getting frustrated. I said I would call the new company. I spoke to a very nice young man who was almost understandable. His accent was that of someone who had not been speaking English long.

He was "so sorry" we were having a problem. He would try to see if he could help. He spent a long time but no help was forthcoming. He transferred me to someone else.

Now we were getting somewhere. This young man was easier to understand. He was "so sorry" but he would see how he could help.

I was becoming extremely exasperated. When he hemmed and hawed about not being able to do anything I began asking questions. He tried to give technical nonsense answers that meant nothing. I kept asking questions.

Then he said to give it some time and it might clear itself up. I asked him if he was just saying that to get rid of me. He answered yes. I hung up.

After composing myself I called again. A nice woman answered. I could not understand her at all. It was not an accent problem. She talked so fast my ears could not keep up with her mouth. I asked her to slow down. She was "so sorry". She would see what she could do to solve the problem.

I repeatedly had to remind her to speak more slowly.but she worked to try to find a solution. After a long time she discovered that I had transposed two digits of the zip code from the original phone's address.

Could she alter the order to reflect the correct zip code? She did not have the authority to do that. Did she have a supervisor I could speak with? She did. Now we were getting somewhere.

A nice man greeted me on the phone. He was "so sorry" we were having a problem. He could not alter the order because the process of activation was so far along. Perhaps they could help at the store in the nearest town.

I drove 30 miles in a mix of rain and snow to the phone store. The man there was so nice and he exuded a confidence I had not felt from anyone on the phone.

He informed me that even though they sold the phones there some things that could not be done. He would do his best however.

He went into his computer and tried to change the zip code. He said that sometimes he could make the changes and sometimes not. He could not. It would have to be done at a corporate store.

Where is the corporate store? The nearest one is in Omaha, Nebraska!

He did suggest calling the carrier for the old phone to see if they could change the zip code for the original phone. That might work.

I drove 30 miles in a mix of rain and snow to go home. I picked up some fast food on the way. I was in no mood or condition to cook.

After we ate I calle dthe original carrier and asked if they could change the zip code. Of course I did not mention that I needed it so my son could drop them because he was trying to activate a phone with a new carrier.

They needed to speak with my son since the phone was in his name. No problem.

They told my son to wait about 20 minutes to make sure it was complete in the system. No problem.

In the meantime I called the new carrier. I asked to speak to the manager who said I should call back if anything changed. Once again I was on an interminable hold.

While I was on hold I began to type in the information leading up to the request for zip code information just to be ready when I did receive assistance.


Did they even ask for the zip code? NO!

After approximately 6 HOURS his new phone is activated. I will not wait on hold for anybody for a while. I will hang up first.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Legend Of The Banshee

In the very early days of Ireland the Tuatha De Danann were the inhabitants. When invaders made it clear that this race would be destroyed, the Tuatha De Danann went underground. They lived in mounds that are now called Sidhe. Sidhe is pronounced as shee.

Sidhe is also used as a name for fairy. The fairies are said to have come from the Tuatha Da Danann.

Bean is pronounced as Ban. It means woman. So a Banshee is a woman fairy. But she is not just any fairy. She has a specific function. She announces the death of a family member and mourns the death.

There is another fairy that is usually associated with Scotland called the bean-nighe. or bean-sith. Her name means washer woman. She is found washing bloody clothes, armor, and even body parts belonging to the soon-to-be deceased.

Because people are born of woman, the Irish believe that it is only fitting that a woman accompany them to their place in the afterlife. As seen by the name a banshee is always female.

It is thought that the banshee might have originally been a member of the family she cries for. She will have only one family and she is extremely loyal to that family. She has even followed them when they emigrated to other parts of the world.

The banshee might have been a member of the family who died in childbirth. Because of her sorrow she wanders the Earth in constant mourning.

It is also considered that she was once a woman who was paid to mourn at the funeral of an important person. She would caoineadh (keen) long and loud to usher the deceased out of this world. These keeners often bonded with the family and stayed on with them after death.

The eyes of the banshee are deep red. It is from the constant crying and mourning of the dead.

Originally the banshee only wailed for a family of the six families who were considered to be the most prominent Irish clans. Down through the years there has been a lot of intermarrying among the families so you might hear her even if you aren't sure of the family she mourns.

The appearance of the banshee varies depending on the telling. She might be young and lovely, mature and handsome, or old and haggish. Those three descriptions coincide with the three aspects of Mother Nature.

She is dressed in the costume of a young peasant girl of ancient times. There may be a bit of color in her clothing. She may be dressed in white or off white, similar to a shroud. Or she might be dressed in black or gray. Often she has a green dress with a black cape over it.

Her hair is most interesting. The color may be gray, white, black, or red. It is very long and floats around her as if she were floating in water. Apparently it is her one vanity.

A Banshee can often be seen combing her hair with a silver comb. If you see a comb when you are out do not pick it up, especially if it is silver. That will give the banshee the right to whisk you away then and there.

Remember the cry of the banshee is meant to alert the family to an impending death. She does not kill them. She simply waits for the person to die. She mourns before and after the death. Often she will mix in with the mourners at the funeral. Then she escorts the person to the proper place in the afterlife. If more than one banshee howls a person of great impotance has died.

She is accompanied by a coach-a-bower (coiste-bodhar). It is a huge black coach with a coffin on top. It is drawn by headless horses and driven by a Dullahan (headless rider).

Hve you heard the cry of the banshee? What a tale that would be..

Friday, November 25, 2016

Telephone Etiquette

Right now my time is being consumed by my son coming home. Please keep that in mind because I am so happy about it and a lot of my posts will probably be about him. As this one is.

I mentioned that he occasionally had 48 hour passes to come home. He had to sign out at a certain time and I would pick him up. Then he had to call to let them know when we arrive at home. There are to be no stops or visits in the process.

When it is time for him to leave he must call to let them know that he is leaving. Again no stops on the way. He must be back on time or he is violation of his terms and can be sent back to prison.

Also during the time he was here they made random calls to make sure he was actually here. The calls come any time of day or night. He recognizes the phone number so he answers the phone.

It is the way he answers that might interest you. I will not use his real name but I need a name so you will get the full picture. I chose Joe Blow.

The phone rings. My son picks it up and says, "Federal prisoner Joe Blow. How can I help you?"

"Joe Blow, Federal prisoner. What took you so long?"

"Federal prison vacation home, Joe Blow speaking."

"Hello? I want to report a prisoner running down the street in his underwear."

"Federal prisoner Joe Blow. I was beginning to think you forgot about me."

"Federal prisoners R Us. How can I help you?"

"Federal prisoner Joe Blow. You know I feel neglected when you don't call."

"Sorry I took so long to answer. I was down digging my escape tunnel."

I have no idea whether they think he is as cute as I do ( as he does). It seems as if they rather enjoy a sense of humor.

He was recently fitted with an ankle monitor. He is home and he will no longer be staying at the halfway house. They still make the random calls because it is the rules.  I do not understand why because the monitor will show them where he is.

He still has to go in for periodic reporting. But he is home.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Attempted Stowaway

My son was here for another 48 hour pass from the halfway house. I am really enjoying him being here.

Once he arrives he has to call in to let them know he is here. Then they make random calls while he is here to make sure he is actually here.

Then when we are leaving to take him back he calls them to report that he is leaving to go back. As we were putting on our coats today he called them. We all then went to my vehicle for the ride to the halfway house.

My son got in the back. I got in to drive. My older son went to the passenger's side to get in and the boys started to laugh.

I had no idea what the joke was so I just sat there with a dumb look on my face. My son opened the door and in hurled this big furry thing.

I put my arm up to block it from scrambling into the back as it rushed through the truck.

That was when I got a good look at it. It was the neighbor's dog. Apparently he wanted a ride.

My son pulled him out of the truck. He rushed back in before my son could stop him. I was able to keep him from escaping to the back yet again. I guess he knew that was where he should ride.

My son managed to get him out again. The dog was struggling to jump in again but my son managed to hold him down a little. He was certainly enthusiastic.

Finally my son managed to get in without the dog and closed the door. We all sat and laughed for a few minutes.

When we were finally ready to back out and begin our journey we did not know where the dog was. The boys saw him on their side of the vehicle. I suddenly saw him run in front of the truck and around my side. I had no idea where he was and did not want to back over him.

We looked and looked but would not open a door because we could not take a chance on him lunging into the truck again. Finally we saw him across the street where his master was working in his shop.

We left without our attempted stowaway. He was persistent though.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Miss Hayhurst

Mrs Cittercup was my teacher for kindergarten and first grade. Isn't Mrs Cittercup a great name? I do not remember her much. I do remember that we learned to read, print, add and subtract in kindergarten. In first grade we learned cursive writing, multiplication and division, and we were reading out of the same reader that I read after we moved and I was in the third grade.

I would love to say that it was just because I was so intelligent that they had to teach me all those things at such a young age. The thing is that every child in my grade learned the same things I did. And that was every child in town and from the farms around the town.

I really believe that most children learn if they are expected to learn. Those little minds are just waiting to be filled with knowledge.

Toward the end of the first grade we moved to another town. As it was before, there were three grades to a room... kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. The same teacher taught all three grades, including music and recess.

The teacher here was Miss Hayhurst. I remember that she drove a Pontiac. Is it not strange that I remember that?

Miss Hayhurst was a middle-aged woman. As far as I know she never married. She had no children. But she was so loving and caring. Not the mushy kind of stuff like hugging and kissing. It's just that every single one of her students knew they were special. You never saw so many teacher's pets.

Miss Hayhurst was always in our classroom before the school day started. She welcomed us to come in early and visit with her. After school she remained to grade papers and do whatever it was she did. We often went home to change to play clothes and have a snack then we would go back up to the school to hang out in our room. It was encouraged by Miss Hayhurst. We loved spending time with her.

In the early 1950's they were experimenting with Salk vaccine for polio. We were bussed to the nearest "big" town to join the children from all over the area to be vaccinated. The boys from our room rode the school bus with the other children. Miss Hayhurst did not want to ride the bus so the girls from my grade (all three of us) rode with her in her Pontiac. How exciting. We felt terribly adult.

Miss Hayhurst appreciated our differences. She got to know each one of us and took a genuine interest in our little personalities. She was the teacher who recognized that I could memorize fairly long poems and recite them. She also recognized that I am a real "ham" (my term not hers). I loved performing in front of audiences. Hence the recital of poems by me at the programs the school periodically held for parents.

She suggested to my mother that she expose me to the classics such as Shakespeare and other classical writers and poets as soon as I was old enough. She did that sort of thing for all the students. And I know that part of the reason I was open to those suggestions was to please Miss Hayhurst.

A very pretty little girl moved to town. She was in the same grade as one of my brothers. They also were in Miss Hayhurst's room. Anyway this little girl also had the prettiest clothes. She had cute little outfits with can-cans (crinoline petticoats heavily starched) that made her full skirts stand out so fully. And there were so many of them. Most of us had just a few dresses and to be honest they were rather shapeless and drab. Ugly plaids (which I still hate) were the norm for most of us.

Miss Hayhurst was looking for creative suggestions for a project for us all to work on. I came up with the bright idea of making a book about her clothes.

Each day we would spend a little time on our books. Each of us wrote our own. During art class we would draw and color her clothes of that day. Then in writing class we would write a description of the dress. We kept each page in order. When we had seen all of her pretty dresses we made book covers out of construction paper and crayons. Then pieces of yarn tied everything into a book. It was fun.

I have always been a very competitive person. I am a good winner because I do not lord it over someone else when I win. I also do not get angry if I do not win. If I have done my best then I am happy. Plus I can enjoy someone else's talent.

So I was that nasty kid in school who always had to be done first and have the best grade. If we had a test I attacked it with gusto. Then I would happily march to the teacher's desk to hand it in before anyone else was done. Learning comes easily to me so I almost always had the best grade possible.

Often when we arrived in the morning I would notice something different about Miss Hayhurst. Maybe she was combing her hair differently or she had on an especially attractive sweater. I would write a quick note to her before handing in a paper. When I would receive the graded paper back Miss Hayhurst would answer my note with a polite thank you.

Miss Hayhurst had a lovely singing voice. In the morning before we started classes we would say the pledge of allegiance and a prayer. We still prayed in school those days. And it was before the "under God" was added to the pledge of allegiance. Then we would sing a good morning song to Miss Hayhurst who would answer by singing the same song back to us.

Our classroom had everything that was available in those days. There were books to read. There were toys to play with. There was even a table similar to a pool table except that it was deep and filled with sand for us to play creatively. Besides our desks there were little tables placed strategically around the room to encourage us to break into smaller groups sometimes to learn to socialize.

We would have a snack of milk and perhaps cookies mid-morning. Then we would pull out the small rugs we had all brought to leave at school. Those are what we laid on for our rest period. My favorite place to put my rug was under the sand table.

After our rest we would have some sort of activity that allowed us to move about. Our favorite was when we could get out the little instruments and march around the room as we played our instruments and Miss Hayhurst played the piano. Some of the instruments were triangles, cymbals, blocks of wood hit with a stick, washboards, cowbells, kazoos, slide whistles, and tambourines.

However the ones we all raced for were the birds. When the birds were filled with water they made the best sound when we hummed into them. There were only three of them so you can imagine the rush.

Can you see what made Miss Hayhurst so special and loved? I have had many teachers but she is the only one I loved. And I was not alone. Every child should have a teacher like Miss Hayhurst to nurture things that parents might miss and to build the confidence that each child must have to be a complete person.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Easy For You To Say

We missed it. International tongue twister day was Sunday.

A tongue twister as a phrase that when said quickly (often three times) causes you to say it wrong. Most of the time the result is funny. Sometimes it can be colorful or even a bit off color.

Tongue twisters can be difficult for me because I have an ever so slight lisp. I did not even know I had it until I was in college and an instructor suggested I might benefit from speech therapy. So dealing with a lot of "s" words make me self-conscious now.

I will give you a few of my favorite tongue twisters. See if you can say them with no mistakes.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

 Mares eat oats and does eat oats,
and little lambs eat ivy.
A Kid will eat ivy too, wouldn't ewe?

I'm not the pheasant plucker,
I'm the pheasant plucker's son,
but I'm busy plucking pheasants
till the pheasant plucker comes.

She sees cheese.

 A fly and flea flew into a flue,
said the fly to the flea 'what shall we do?'
'let us fly' said the flea
said the fly 'shall we flee'
so they flew through a flaw in the flue.

Betty Botter bought some butter but, said she, the butter's bitter.
If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter will make my bitter batter better.
So she bought some better butter, better than the bitter butter,
put it in her bitter batter, made her bitter batter better.
So 't was better Betty Botter bought some better butter.

She sells sea shells by the sea shore. But if She sells sea shells by the sea shore then where are the sea shells She sells?

Rugged rubber baby buggy bumpers.

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear,
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair,
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't fuzzy,
was he?

A Tudor who tooted the flute
tried to tutor two tooters to toot.
Said the two to the tutor,
"Is it harder to toot or
to tutor two tooters to toot?"

A big black bug bit a big black bear and made the big black bear bleed blood.

Six thick thistle sticks

Moses supposes his toeses are roses.
But Moses supposes erroneously.
Moses, he knowses his toeses aren't roses
As Moses supposes his toeses to be.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck all the wood a woodchuck could
If a woodchuck could chuck wood

A certain young fellow named Beebee
Wished to marry a lady named Phoebe
"But," he said. "I must see
What the minister's fee be
Before Phoebe be Phoebe Beebee"

Do you have a favorite?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Running Hot And Cold

I have moved from one house to another, one town to another so many times in my life.  I hate moving.

First you have to pack up all your belongings. Wrap the breakables. Find good sturdy boxes. Try not to fill the boxes so full that they were too heavy. An over-filled box is likely to lose its bottom and strew contents everywhere.

You begin labeling all the boxes so you will know where to put them when you get to your new home. After several thousand boxes (yes I exaggerate a bit) you stop labeling because it takes too much time.

Some pieces of furniture need to be dismantled. Beds for instance. You must make certain that mattresses stay with the bed frames they are meant to stay with.

Washers, dryers, stoves, and refrigerators need to be emptied if necessary. Breakable parts will be removed so they do not jiggle around and break in transit. Any foods that have to be frozen or refrigerated have to be stored so they will not spoil. You of course try to keep those foods at a minimum.

Finally everything is packed and ready to go... you hope.

Then you must load them into whatever vehicle you have chosen to carry your belongings to the new destination. Large heavy items in first. Keep it orderly.

Then larger boxes are fitted in. Be careful with the ones that hold breakable items. Nothing heavy on top of them. Soon smaller packages are being loaded wherever they will fit.

You make a last tour of the empty house. Did you empty the medicine cabinet? Is all the silverware out of the drawer? All the closets completely empty? What about that high shelf in the basement? Is all the trash disposed of?

Look at the check list. Did you discontinue the paper delivery? File a change of address for your mail?

Finally you are ready to roll. The truck heads out for the new house. The rest of the family climbs in the car and follows.

Let us say that this move is a fairly short one. You reach the new house fairly quickly. Now the reverse begins. You unload the truck.

Everyone is too tired but it has to be done.

Almost half of the boxes were not marked so you decide to stack those into an out-of-the-way room. The rest are carried to the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, or wherever the markings say they should be.

Furniture is unloaded. At least you know which rooms the furniture belongs.

Beds are re-assembled. Once the mattresses are on the beds it is a good idea to add sheets, blankets, and pillows. Otherwise you will be too tired to do it later.

Large appliances come last. They are put into the rooms they belong. You try to hook up washers and dryers right away simply because you do not want to do it tomorrow.

The kitchen stove needs to be attached to its power source. You probably will order pizza tonight just because it will be easier but the stove will be ready for business the next day.

The refrigerator is easy to install... put it in place and plug it in.

I have heard that you should allow any appliance that contains a cooling agent to settle for 24 hours before plugging it in. I never had any problem with that though.

Until one move when my children were small.

I immediately plugged in the refrigerator when it was carried into the kitchen. I had not brought any perishables so I would have to run to the store first thing the next day. Which I did.

I filled the refrigerator with meat, eggs, milk, vegetables, and all the other goodies we normally keep in the fridge. We were all set.

Late that afternoon I was ready to cook supper. When I opened the door of the refrigerator to take out the meat I was hit with a wave of warm air.

All the meat was partially cooked! I cracked an egg... also partially cooked. The vegetables were all wilted from the heat. I had to dispose of all that food.

Apparently because I knew better than experts I had plugged the appliance in too soon and somehow reversed the way it operated.

We unplugged it and waited 2 days before plugging it back in. It worked normally for two more years when we moved again. We decided not to take it with us. It was an older appliance and we thought it best not to take any chances.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


I believe strongly that voting is a responsibility. It is how we choose the people who represent us in our government.

It is our duty to educate ourselves on what issues will benefit our country. Then we need to learn how the candidates view those issues. How will they get to the business of overseeing our welfare?

So in the United States today is the day to elect our highest official. In many states lesser but no less important government representatives are also running for office.

Please take the few minutes to vote for your candidate. I have my choices ready and will go to the polls when they open. I hope you are ready too.

                                                   I WANT YOU TO VOTE!

Friday, November 4, 2016


Grandma was quite a character. She was a quiet woman but she could surprise you at times with the things that she did.

Grandma could cook. She was the best cook I ever knew. Even better than my mother. I do not like pancakes but I always hoped she would make them for breakfast when I was there. That was because she made her own syrup out of water and sugar.

Grandma made homemade bread every day. And I mean every day. She cooked and baked on an old wood stove. Anyone who has had food cooked that way knows how much better it tastes.

Grandma had been cooking since she was a small girl. Once in a while on Sunday when they were making Sunday dinner, Grandma would ask one of her daughters to take the homemade biscuits from the oven. They would start to look for pot holders or a towel to hold the pan to keep from getting burned. Grandma would give an exasperated sigh and grab the pan with her bare hands and set it on the table.

I remember being shocked when I was in high school. Grandma had had a stroke. After a long hospital stay she was finally home. She went to take biscuits from the oven and had to bounce the pan from hand to hand. She felt the heat.

Grandma said that while she was in the hospital the doctors and nurses talked about her like she was a baby. She was unable to speak. The doctors told everyone that she would never walk again. She laid there and thought to herself; "I'll show them!" She got tired easily at first but she could walk just fine.

She was a farmer's wife with all the work that entails. She cooked a lot of fried chicken. She would send my uncles out to catch and behead a couple chickens for dinner. She used a wire that had a hook bent at the end to catch the leg of a chicken so the person could get it in their grasp. Then the boys were supposed to chop off the heads with an axe.

Now getting a chicken to lay its head calmly on a chopping block while you cut off its head is an impossible task. They wiggle, they squirm, and they have extremely agile necks. My uncles would have a time trying to do the chore.

Finally Grandma would get tired of waiting. She just grabbed the chickens by their heads, spun them just so and wrung their heads right off their necks. It took seconds.

There was the time the cow got gas. Cows do not belch so gas stays inside and grows. If not taken care of the cow will die.

Grandpa had gone to town and would be gone for a couple of days. If he had been there he would have "stuck" the cow and it would have been done. Sticking the cow meant taking out his pocket knife and stabbing the cow in the spot where the second stomach was. It released the gas and all was right with the world.

Grandma did not know how to stick the cow. So she figured it would be fine until Grandpa got back. The cow just kept swelling and bawling. It bawled constantly and loudly. The swelling got bigger and the bawling got louder. Finally Grandma knew she would have to take care of it herself. She had no idea how to stick the cow. She grabbed a rake handle and shoved it into the proper opening on the cow. There was a great noise as the gas escaped. My mother said the smell was unbearable and hung over the farm for days. The cow was fine.

A wolf had been killing the livestock. Grandpa had not been able to catch it. It was another one of those times when Grandpa had to be away. Grandma heard a ruckus out with the animals. She looked out the window and saw the wolf.

She grabbed Grandpa's double-barreled shotgun. She had never shot a gun but she decided to play Annie Oakley.

She ran out to where the wolf was. She lifted the shotgun in both hands and held it out directly in front of her. She pulled both triggers at the same time. The shotgun kicked back and hit her in the mouth. It knocked out both her front teeth. I do not know what happened to the wolf.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Gonna Buy A Paper Doll That I Can Call My Own

I have mentioned before that I did not play with dolls. I always had a real baby to play with and dolls just could not do the same things.

But I loved paper dolls. They were found in McCall's Magazine. Betsy McCall was her name. Each month she would come out in a different pose with different clothes. I dutifully cut them out every month.

Betsy was usually dressed in a bathing suit or some sort of brief clothing. Never underwear... that would have been indecent. The reason for small clothes was so that the other outfits would fit properly and the original outfit would not show at the edges.

I loved Betsy McCall because her clothes fit so well. In order to change her clothes all you had to do was set the clothing (usually one piece even if it was two pieces like jeans and a shirt) on top of Betsy and fold the strategically placed flaps over her to hold the clothes in place.

She usually had the brief outfit, a daytime outfit, and a glamorous evening gown. She was in a different pose each month so the clothing did not interchange. But that only meant you would have a lot of Betsy's to make a group.

Then there were the paper dolls that came with the Tonette home permanents. They were there to keep little girls who were getting the perms from fidgeting while mothers tried to get the curls in their hair.

I cannot remember if they started that way but the paper dolls and clothes were perforated at the edges so you could carefully punch them out and play with them. There was not as large a variety as Betsy McCall but they were fun too. And they added to the collection.

You could buy paper dolls too. They were not terribly expensive but my family did not have a lot of money so they were usually an unnecessary expense. I did have a few of those.

The best thing to do was make your own. I cannot draw so I could not make them from scratch. Some girls did. But I had the next best thing... catalogs. Sears and Roebuck, JC Penney, Woolworth were but a few. I lived in very rural areas so mail order was the way we got a lot of merchandise.

The catalogs had an abundance of models, both male and female. And they were grown and children. We would cut the ones we like out and look for other outfits in the catalog that would match the pose of our models. They were not always a perfect match of course but close enough would do for our purposes. They had to have enough room in the catalog to be able to add the flaps to make the clothes stay on. It was a great way to add to our collections of paper dolls.

On rainy or snowy days when we were on the farm we would go up into the attic and play paper dolls. It passed so many hours and gave Grandma a break.

One day we made a discovery. My mother and her sisters used to play with paper dolls too. As a matter of fact she was the one who showed us how to make paper dolls from the catalog. Anyway we found some old cigar boxes full of paper dolls.

It seems that when my mother and my aunts had cut paper dolls from the newspapers when they were young girls. Newspapers had new paper dolls every week. And they had their catalog paper dolls. There were so many of them. It was like finding treasure.

My youngest aunt is about 5 years older than me. She had as much fun as me, my sister, and my cousins. We had such a good time with those old-fashioned clothes. We were always very careful to put them back into their cigar boxes and leave them in the attic until next time.

I wonder what ever happened to all those paper dolls. I know my sister and I lost ours in a house fire. But the paper dolls in Grandma's attic probably were discarded when they sold the farm. What a shame. I would like to see paper dolls make a comeback.

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Visit Home

My son is still in the halfway house until the end of next month. Then he will come stay with us. I am so looking forward to him being here.

I have been picking him up and taking him to appointments. Some are medical. Others are to get his financial business up to date.

It is a hectic time for me. It is a 25 mile drive there and a 25 mile drive home after I drop him off. I am certainly not complaining because I am so happy to spend any time I can with him. But I am not young any more and I do get tired.

Last weekend he had a pass for each of the two days for eight hours each day. He was able to come home and get used to being here.

I see him starting to relax a bit more each time I see him. He does not constantly feel like he has to be on his guard. I hope to see the tension in him lessen and eventually disappear but that may be too much to ask.

So my son called this evening. They are giving him a pass for the entire weekend. He will be able to sleep in his bed and have some privacy. He will have his own TV if he does not like what we are watching.

He has no idea how much I have been waiting for him to be home. He still feels like a visitor. I was gratified the other day when he finally went to the refrigerator and helped himself to a bottle of water.

As I said he is relaxing a bit.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Death Of A Rabbit

My daughter and I took her children for a walk. My grandson was 6 or 7 and my granddaughter was 4 or 5. We walked through their neighborhood looking at flowers and watching for animals and birds.

As we usually did, when we returned to their house we made a tour of the back yard. In the spring we watched as the flowers came up through the soil then grew and bloomed. We smelled all smells and tried to identify where they came from.

On this day it was autumn. The leaves were falling from the trees at a record pace. The flower beds and the grass were covered with fallen leaves. Sometimes we would startle a rabbit back there but we did not see any that day.

Until my grandson went, "Oooooh" in a sympathetic tone. My daughter and I realized at the same time that he was starting to reach for an animal. We both yelled at him to stop. He looked at us, startled.

We quickly went over to him. There lying in a flower bed was a dead rabbit.

We explained to him that whether the animal was sick or dead we did not know what was causing the problem. You cannot just touch any animal you do not know because it could cause injury or illness to you. He seemed to undeerstand.

My daughter did not want to leave it lying there. I told her to go get a shovel and we would dispose of it. She was worried about my grandson being upset. I told her that was why we always held a funeral for animals when she was growing up. It is a way to say goodbye and it showed the finality of the animal being gone.

My grandson loved the idea of a funeral. He went and found an old shoebox. When we asked where we should bury the rabbit he chose a spot under the bushes right in front of the house. He wanted to conduct the ceremony so we let him.

We dug a hole and my grandson placed the box containing the rabbit carefully into the hole. We covered the box with dirt and tamped it gently down. Then my grandson started to speak.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to say goodbye to our friend, the rabbit." I stood in total shock. He had never been to a funeral so I could not understand where these words were coming from. My daighter and I looked at each other in amazed amusement.

He continued with his little tribute about how we did not know the bunny but we felt bad that he was dead. Then he knelt to say a prayer. I started to choke a bit with laughter. He looked like such a little angel with his hands pressed together looking toward the sky imploring that this little bunny rabbit be taken to a better place. Finally there was an "Amen".

My daughter and I started to go inside. I was actually halfway up the steps. Then my grandson stood at attention and put his hand to his forehead in a salute. His other hand formed into a loose fist and was placed at his mouth. Through that hand we heard, "Phtt, phtt, Phhhhhttt...". He was playing Taps!

I was choking trying to keep from opening my mouth and laughing out loud. Tears were running down my face. I did not dare look at my daughter because I knew I would not be able to contain myself. So I stood there not able to breathe with tears all over my face, turning red.

At the end of Taps, my grandson sweetly said a soft goodbye. "Goodbye, little bunny rabbit." It was over.

I jerked myself into the house so I could breathe and laugh without hurting his feelings. When my daughter came in shortly after she was laughing almost as hard as I was while berating me for leaving her out there all alone.

Bugs Bunny was the culprit. My grandson had seen a Bugs Bunny cartoon in which a funeral was held. He had practically memorized the whole thing. Thanks a lot, Bugs!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Paint It

 Halloween is coming. I love this time of year. The fall colors. The changing of the season making the air crisp with the promise of cold coming. I find it exhilarating.

Some of the symbols of Halloween are representative of the harvest. Gourds, squashes, pumpkins, corn stalks, Indian corn, and bales of hay are frequently used to give a festive autumn look to a house or business. Often scarecrows serve as sentries ever watching for evil spirits.

Pumpkin carving is a tradition. You take a pumpkin and carve the top off. After emptying it of the seeds scary faces are carved into the body of the pumpkin. Often a candle of LED light is placed inside to give it that eerie glow.

It can be displayed on the porch or steps outside. On the inside of the house it can be placed on a table and surrounded by candles. Even placed by a mailbox the Jack-o-lanterns are fun to see.

One drawback to carved pumpkins is that they often begin to spoil before Halloween is over. Depending on the weather they might shrivel and fall into themselves.

I discovered another way to decorate. Instead of carving which is messy and can be dangerous because of the sharp knives you can paint the pumpkins.

If you want to be truly artistic you can sketch your pattern onto the pumpkin with a pencil but freestyle is perfectly acceptable. Any type of paint can be used. If children are participating water paints are the best idea.

Simply paint the face on the pumpkin and it is ready to place in a prominent spot. That is all there is to it.

You can paint small squash and gourds too. They can be used with the pumpkins or without depending on how much space you have.

There is little mess. Whole pumpkins are easier to deal with after Halloween than a squishy carved pumpkin.

So whether you carve or paint enjoy your Halloween decorations.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

It's Magic

My best friend is beautiful. Stunningly beautiful. Of course she knows it and uses it to her advantage but she also sees the beauty in other people.

Men always flock around her. As I said she is beautiful. And she gets the special treatment that beautiful people often get. That is a handy asset for her and for the people with her.

At the same time my friend is not a shallow person. She is caring and giving and has a marvelous sense of humor.

My friend has two sisters who are also good friends. We all support each other the best we can.

Her younger sister had two sons. The oldest was in school and the school was having a carnival/fundraiser. We all went to spend as much money as we could.

There was a mildly famous magician who appeared on local television children's shows often. He was appearing at the event.

He noticed my friend in the audience (what a surprise) and called her up to assist him in doing some of his magic. I can attest to the fact that they did not know each other.

He performed a lot of standard magic tricks to amaze and astound. He even managed to take my friend's watch from her arm without her knowing it.

Then came a trick that involved him placing an object into a container that looked a lot like a martini shaker. He told my friend to hold it between her hands with one end above the other and flip it three times. She did.

Then as he was giving his spiel she flipped it once again. He passed his magic wand over it and said the magic words. He then asked my friend to open the container to show that the item had disappeared or changed into something else or something.

She opened it. Nothing happened!

The magician was mildly flustered but he kept his poise and chuckled that they would need to do it over.

He watched carefully as my friend flipped the container three times for him. He reached for his wand and she flipped it again. He passed the wand over it and said his magic words. My friend opened the container. Nothing had changed.

By now the magician was determined to get the trick completed. By now the smirk on my friend's face was impossible for her to hide. They started over.

Once again even under the close scrutiny of the magician the trick failed. He was definitely aggravated.

He said he would try ONE MORE TIME. He watched as my friend flipped the canister three times. She flipped it an extra time. He waved his wand and spoke the magic words. Then he grabbed her hands and flipped the canister once more. SUCCESS!

He promptly booted my friend off the stage and completed his act. She re-joined us and we had a good laugh. I told you she has a good sense of humor.

Then he called to her that she could come back up onto the stage if she wanted to collect her necklace.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Mean Grandma

I loved my father's mother. Much of the time I did not like her very much. She was a mean-spirited woman who's biggest joy in life seemed to be talking bad about someone, anyone, everyone else.

I do understand that she had a rough time of things. I don't think her marriage was a happy one. My grandfather drank from what I've been told. I did not know him. I have a feeling he probably was physically violent too but I do not know that.

Grandma had 11 children. Two died at birth or as babies. The Depression was a hard time for families in this country when her children were young.

One uncle had epilepsy. Back then it had such a stigma and there was little that could be medically done. He was put in a home and everyone was told that he was in a reform school. It was better to have a bad boy than an epileptic. He died there. I don't know if he knew whether anybody cared about him or not. It was way before my time.

Grandma was either the first baby in her family born in the United States or the last one born in Denmark. I can never remember which. She tried to teach me a little Danish but I only remember the word for hen.

Perhaps because she had so little when she was younger my grandmother was a collector. She had hundreds of sets of salt and pepper shakers on display in her house.

It was a small two-story house. Half of the upstairs was finished into an extra bedroom. The other half was for storage. And boy did she store a lot.

She lived in a little bitty town. The department store there actually was just a mail order hook-up. They displayed all the various mail order catalogs of the time. Grandma ordered sets of dishes, pots and pans, linens, and who knows what all. When the boxes came in she would promptly have them put upstairs. Most were never opened.

She was like that. She had things just to have them. It is such a shame they were never used. My aunt asked me what I would like as a wedding gift and I told her something of my grandmother's. I received a set of beautifully embroidered sheets. Sadly my husband went to plump his pillow and his hand went right through the material.

She did like working with cloth. She embroidered and did needlepoint. She also made the loveliest silky covers for her throw pillows.

Grandma would buy bananas and let them sit and rot rather than eat them. Heaven forbid if one of us was hungry. Whatever it was we asked for she was saving it.

My aunt had a scar on her hand. It seems that grandma was peeling potatoes for supper and my aunt asked for a piece for a snack. As she asked she reached to take a piece, grandma whacked her hand with the knife. It was a nasty cut. Grandma was stingy.

I remember once when we were visiting her she made oatmeal for breakfast. I love oatmeal. When we started to eat it we found all these tiny nails in it. Apparently she bumped the box of nails as she was making the oatmeal and it fell into the pan. Instead of throwing it out she expected us to eat around the nails.

Another time she made oatmeal again. When she served it to us we saw "things" floating in it and wiggling. She had mealy worms and saw no sense in letting the food go to waste.

She was not very nice to my mother either and that is something a child cannot forgive. She always made it clear that Mom was not a part of the family. More on that another time.

I did love her though. When I was in second grade we were working with modelling clay. I made the bust of a woman. When I finished it looked like Grandma. We went to visit her over the Christmas holidays and I took my little grandma to show her. She actually liked it and asked if she could keep it. Being an honest child I said she could as long as everyone understood that I got it back when she died.

All the rest of her life she kept it on the table by her bed. Sadly when she died it disappeared. I never saw it again.

None of my children knew Grandma. She died shortly before I married. When they were small we would look through family pictures and every time one of the kids would ask who that mean looking woman was.

I do miss Grandma. Maybe I could have known more about my father's side of the family if I had been able to ask her about it. Maybe I could have understood her better.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Here in the middle of America is where I grew up. It is farm country. Some farmers raised wheat, corn, and other crops. Some farmers raised livestock such as cows, sheep, or pigs. Most farmers raised a bit of all the above.

Grandpa raised all of the above. Most of the grain and corn was raised to feed the livestock. So was hay.

Grandpa had pigs. They were mostly for butchering to feed the family. They also made good garbage disposals.

He raised cows. That was his main source of income. The milk from the cows was sold to dairies. Some of the males were used to eat but mostly the cows made new cows so the abundant milk supply continued.

Grandpa raised horses. Of course they worked but it was more because he loved them so.

Gardens are a big deal on the farm as are fruit trees. The produce they yield are cooked, canned, pickled, and preserved for use all year long.

Potatoes are a staple in the diets in this part of the country. They are served in one form or another at almost every evening meal. They are full of nutrition and they "stick to the ribs" meaning they are filling.

Grandpa would plant a small field of potatoes. When the time came he would plow them up and we would follow behind and gather them out of the ground. Potatoes are stored and used all year until the next year's harvest.

My husband loved potatoes too. As it was with all farm families potatoes were served for supper every night. He did not consider it supper unless there were potaotes.

When he moved back here from the big city he was fortunate to have a neighbor who became a very good friend. They worked together on most everything they needed to make pleasant lives.

The neighbor is of Mexican descent. He does not eat potatoes and did not understand my husband's love for them.

The two of them decided to plant a garden together. The neighbor was excited about growing his own tomatoes and hot peppers. My husband insisted that they plant potatoes.

To this day the neighbor chuckles about the potatoes. He still does not know why they had to plant nothing but potatoes that year.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Garden In The City

When we think of gardens we usually think of farms or little towns where nice big gardens are planted. There will be enough yield for snacking, meals, and canning. That is because there is plenty of room.

However there are often gardens in the city.

Community gardens are becoming more and more popular. Using a vacant lot (with permission from the city of course) people of the neighborhood get together to plant a garden and tend  to it. It does not take much land to yield enough for a lot of people. All it takes is a little planning.

Balconies and patios can house a small garden. A tomato plant or two in a pot, green and hot peppers in other pots will produce more than one family can eat. There will also be room for a few plants.

Herb gardens can be grown on a patio or even inside with a comfy place near a sunny window.

My parents always had a graden. Whether we lived on the farm, in town, or even in the big city there was always a garden.

Each and every garden had the usual edibles. there were tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and green beans. If there was a large enough space they also grew peas, carrots, corn, and various squash. Sometimes there were even a few pumpkins.

Also in each garden was space set aside for Mom's flowers. She always grew zinnias. Some other flowers were sweet peas, snap dragons, four o'clocks, cox combs, petunias, or whatever else caught her fancy.

Daddy had his roses. There were also grape vines even in the city. They do not need much room if they are allowed to climb instead of spread.

They usually had strawberries too. In the city they took a small space and built tiers to plant strawberries. They got a lot of berries from a small space.

I know it sounds like a massive garden but it really took so little space. There was still room for kids to play and family barbecues. City gardens are not as rare as you might think.

My husband and I did not always have gardens but we often did. Tomatoes were a must. I like cucumbers too My husband always said you cannot plant tomatoes and cucumbers together because the tomatoes will taste like cucumbers. But I would get my way and the tomatoes always tasted like tomatoes.

I like green beans a lot. So green beans were planted.My husband liked potatoes so we planted them if there was enough room. Peppers both green and hot grew well for us.

One year we planted some pumpkins along the fence. Squirrels ate most of them but we had one that was growing nicely. We planned on using it for Halloween and then in cooking.

My husband went out one day to stand with pride over his garden. He was providing good fresh food for his family.

That was when he noticed that the pumpkin was gone!

It had not been attacked by any animals. The pumpkin had been neatly cut from the vine.

My husband blamed a neighbor. I do not think it was that neighbor but try to convince my husband. He was having none of it.

We lived in the city. I believe some of the older kids used that cute little pumkin for some sort of nefarious deed. But I had no proof either. Maybe the squirrels had a sharp knife?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


I went to the post office yesterday to get my mail. I saw a couple of kids playing at one end of the building. That is not unusual. There is a nice patch of grass there.

As I got out of my car one little girl began to peek around the building at me. She had a bit of a guilty look.

Then she said, "There's a snake here."

Because this area is known for its high population of prairie rattlesnakes I went to take a look.

The post office has those glass block windows set low in the ground. I assume that there is a basement down there but I am not sure. There are half moon shaped metal barriers to keep the ground from eroding down to cover the blocks. There is a layer of gravel to keep plants from growing.

When I went over there the little girl told me that they picked one up and it acted like it wanted to bite them. When I asked if any of them were bitten they said no.

I gave them a quick talk of rattlesnakes to make sure they understood how dangerous they are. They were surprised that they can bite and are venomous as soon as they are born.

Another little girl joined us. She had been searching for a grown snake they saw slithering away.

I looked into the area by the glass blocks. There were several little snakes rolling around in there. They were no bigger than a small earthworm. From the markings they looked like garter snakes.

We talked a while more. I tried to impress on them that they needed to know for sure what kind of snake they tried to pick up. I also let them know that all snakes will bite to protect themselves.

A man yelled out then and all three children scampered away. As they were leaving I told them to make sure they told a grown-up about the snakes.

As I drove around the corner I saw a couple of the fathers standing outside talking. I rolled down my window and told them about the snakes over at the post office. I told them that I thought they were probably harmless and that I had told the children to tell parents about them.

You never know with little ones. Sometimes they keep information to themselves to keep from getting into trouble.

It was so cold yesterday that I was surprised to see baby snakes (or grown ones for that matter). I have no idea whether the fathers decided to do something about them.

I think I will make sure to visit the post office tomorrow. They should know that the little places by the glass blocks are being used to breed snakes.

Friday, September 30, 2016

That's The Life For Me

 I have said many times that I lived in very small towns when I was a child. They were idyllic places to be. Children had a lot of freedom to come and go without fear.

Everybody knew everybody else in town. Adults looked out for children. If there was a problem parents could be called. We were as safe as possible.

The best thing about small town living was the community. Everyone attended community events. I already told you about watermelon day. There is more.

There were pancake breakfasts.  I remember one especially. It was at the library. For a nominal fee you had all the pancakes with syrup that you could eat. Sausages were the meat that day. It was great fun eating with other citizens of town and the surrounding farms.

I of course did not realize it at the time but those breakfasts were fund raisers. The library (which my family used all the time), the fire department, the VFW... all the organizations that served the town needed a little boost in funding. Pancakes were inexpensive to make.

The library had other festivals. Some were fund raisers. Others were simply fun activities to remind us how much fun the library is. Sometimes we would have cleaning parties to dust the books and shelves. It was fun.

School sports programs were community activities. The whole town attended football and basketball games for the boys and volleyball for the girls. We cheered out team. We bought snacks from the concession stands that helped with funding. And we had a great time besides.

Speaking of school all the grades went to the same school. Kindergarten through 12th grade. Every grading period there was a parents' night when parents could discuss the children's progress.

The teachers were members of the community so they knew the parents and the children. So these were another social event.

What I liked most was that each classroom was expected to perform at each of these events. The lower grades had three grades to a room so there were not as many performances as you might think.

What was fun for me was that there were far more boys than girls in the school. If a room was doing a dance they had to borrow girls from other rooms. I got to show off again! I am a terrible ham you must know.

My teachers also recognized the ham. And they knew that I had a good memory. I was given long poems to memorize and recite as the stage was being redesigned for a new act. I still remember pieces of all those poems.

Halloween is second only to Christmas for me. The reason is the little town life. We decorated all over town. We dressed up in our costumes and made sure we had a good supply of large paper grocery bags.

When we were finally allowed we went out for trick-or-treat. Every house had a treat for us. Some of the treats were candy bars (full sized of course),  cupcake cups full of smaller candies (including the dreaded candy corn), coins (a lot of pennies and some nickels with an occasional dime), homemade cookies, cupcakes (and sometimes a slice of a real cake), and candied apples.

When our large paper grocery bags would fill we took them home and grabbed another one. We then went back out for more goodies. We did not stop until we hit every house in town.

By the time we were finished we were so tired that bed was where we wanted to be. That was when the older kids went out to pull their pranks. My favorite was the outhouse placed at the main intersection of town.

If a child had a birthday party every child in that grade was invited. Events were all-inclusive. My mother was a master at unique parties. Each of us had one party in our lives. Each party was memorable.

On Valentine's Day we all made valentines to give to the other children in our room. No one was left out. We also took a treat to share with everyone so there was a party. Fun.

May Day was another day we celebrated. My first was when I was 5 years old. Using huge paper cupcake cups we filled them with goodies and anything to make them pretty. A pipe cleaner was used as a handle to make a May basket. We made them for each child in our grade.

My mother explained to me that I was to take the basket to the door of the child that lived in that house, knock on the door, then run. If the child caught me they got to give me a kiss.

I followed her directions to the letter. As I jumped into the car my mother was laughing hysterically. She did not make it clear that I was supposed to leave the basket on the doorstep! I still had it in my hand. Of course Susan Otradostey gave me a big kiss on the cheek when I dejectedly got out of the car to give her the basket.

I love small town life.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Wild, Wild West

Grandpa was a cowboy. Not the kind you see in movies that go around shooting each other. Technically those are gunslingers. But Grandpa rode the range and herded the cattle. He was out there for weeks at a time. Civilization was too far away to stop in town every once in a while. It was a 2 day ride by horse. Horse was the only transportation available unless you wanted to ride shank's mare. That means walking to you tenderfeet.

Grandpa loved the animals. He especially loved horses but all animals were special to him.  He always had a dog too. Occasionally Grandpa would be the cowboy chosen to go to town for supplies or maybe to just see people who weren't looking after cattle.

As I said it was a two day trip. Often Grandpa would stop and stay with an Indian tribe for the night. They always welcomed him. Besides letting him sleep there the Native Americans fed him. One time there was a delicious stew that he ate with gusto. He asked what kind of stew it was. They said it was made with snake meat. He was a bit taken aback but thought he dealt with it well.

Another time he stopped and there was stew again. It tasted different from the snake stew. They told him it was made using horse meat. Now Grandpa loved horses. They were special to him. However he reasoned that not everyone felt the same. And after all there would be a lot of meat there. The whole tribe could eat a nice healthy meal. He hated it but he dealt with it.

Another trip to town saw him stopping again. He hoped they weren't serving horse because he loved horses. He even asked and was assured that horse was not on the menu. After a delicious meal he once again asked what they had eaten. It was dog. Grandpa never stopped again. He just could not deal with eating man's best friend.

Even before that Grandpa would often just ride all night to get back to the herd. It was beautiful out under the stars. And a cowboy doesn't mind being alone out there. It is what he does all the time.

One night he saw two glowing eyes with the creature behind them waiting to attack him. Grandpa was not afraid. He carefully lifted his rifle from its carrier, aimed, and fired. He aimed between those two glowing eyes and shot the creature right where he aimed.

It was a bobcat. Grandpa had it stuffed. The taxidermist put it in a ferocious pose. It looked ready to leap right then and there. Its mouth was open in a snarling growl.  That thing sat at the top of the stairs of the attic. I was terrified. It looked so real.

When it came the time that Grandpa decided to become a family man he quit being a cowboy. He went home to the farm his father had left him to marry and raise his children.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday The 13th

Recently we were supposed to celebrate Defy Superstition Day. This was brought to my attention by my online friend John At Reflections. If you click on the link you will see his post on the subject.

I am fascinated by superstitions. I sort of collect them for my own amusement.

My family has a Friday the 13th superstition all our own. My mother had a terrible (but funny) day and we never let her live it down. Let me tell you all about it.

My aunt and uncles went to school in a one room schoolhouse in the country. On the last day of school there was a picnic and we always went. The more the merrier, you know. This year it was held on Friday, the 13th.

We set out for the picnic with Mom at the wheel. Daddy had to work. Mom was running late as usual so she was driving a bit faster than she should have. She came to the top of a hill and saw the police car at the bottom. Instead of slowing down she panicked and stopped. When she restarted and drove down the hill she was pulled over. Luckily the cop recognized the car. Daddy was the town marshal and worked with the state police on occasion. Mom received a warning to be more careful and we went on our way.

The car was low on gas so Mom pulled in to a station along the highway. In the 1950's the pumps often had big glass globes on the top with the name of the gasoline company on them. They were pretty. When Mom pulled in for gas she realized that she was too far away from the pump. She pulled forward a bit and then backed up a bit closer... whoops! a little too close.She bumped the pump. That beautiful glass globe began to wobble, wobble, wobble, wobble... it seemed to be slowing and coming to a stop. Whew. Then it just fell right off and smashed into millions of pieces.

The man at the station was very kind. Of course we did not have to pay for it; it happens all the time. (Right!) We got our 2 dollars worth of gas. That filled it up then. And we were off again.

We turned off the highway to the county road on the way to the picnic. We were merrily driving along and Mom missed the turn onto the next county road that led to the school. Not to worry... she just backed up so she would be in position to turn. Somehow we ended up in the ditch. Some of the ditches in Nebraska were like valleys. We were rear end down with the nose of the car pointing up. Now what was she to do?

Here we were with a car full of children sitting in a deep ditch with no chance she could drive it out. As luck would have it a neighboring farmer came by on his tractor. Mom waved him down and he of course was happy to help. He was so happy to help that he could not stop laughing as he hooked the chain up to the car and his tractor. Laughing as he had Mom steer the car while his tractor strained to pull us out of that ditch. He was so happy when we were completely clear of the ditch that he kept laughing. Mom had made him so happy that he was still laughing as he drove off.

Off we went again. Mom successfully made the turn. Believe it or not we made it safely to the picnic. Of course we were extremely late but there were still a few games left to be played. After that Friday, the 13th, was a day that we no longer let Mom drive. As a matter of fact we would not even let her in the car.

This is the way many superstitions start. Got any of your own?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Teach me

 Education is so important. There are many people who will say that school did little for them and they might be right. But anyone who is successful became educated about something.

My husband was illiterate. He went to school until the 9th grade but he could not read. Because of that he thought he was "dumb". That was his expression. But in reality he was so smart.

He educated himself in things that interested him. For instance he had a friend who was a welder by trade. My husband said he laid "the prettiest" weld he ever saw.

So my husband watched him and asked questions. He had the friend show him what to do. Then he had the friend watch as he tried. He wanted his friend to tell him if he was doing something right or wrong. He was never the master he wanted to be but his weld would hold and be strong... just not as "pretty" as he wished.

I on the other hand found school to be easy. I learn fast and retain the information. I had "book learning".

I am still an avid reader and I search the internet about topics that interest me. I keep learning that way and keep my mind sharp. I am interested in so many things that I will always have something to study.

I had another advantage. I got an excellent education in school. I can count on one hand the number of poor teachers I had and have fingers left over. That includes college and the fact that I went to 13 different schools before I graduated high school.

I am also the oldest child of seven. My mother insisted that I speak correctly. (She was a highly intelligent woman.) Therefore words like "ain't" are not a part of my vocabulary. She relaxed a bit on my siblings but I am grateful she was strict about my words.

My beautiful children seemed to inherit the best qualities of both parents. They are much more intelligent than I am. They learn easily as I do. They also educate themselves as their father did. Add the wisdom they got from their paternal grandmother and they are all impressive people.

Sadly they went to school in the big city. The number of good teachers  combined among the four of them can be counted on one hand with fingers left over. Sad.

I taught all of them to read because the schools were poor. Often they taught themselves other subjects and would come to me if they had questions because the teachers were not accessible. Again sad.

My oldest son went to school with a star basketball player. He was often in the news. It was reported also that he was such a good student and had high grades.

My son said he never went to class. The school had him sit at a table in the counselor's outer office all day. He just sat there pretty much doing nothing for the whole day. But he was a basketball star and valuable to the school.

He was automatically enrolled in a Big Ten school for college. He promptly flunked out because did not know how to learn and was used to having his grades taken care of.

He tried out for the NBA. That did not last too long. He was good but not better than a lot of other players. The last we heard he was playing professional basketball in Italy. Sad.

What a disservice the school did to him. Because he was a big star in a big city he knew he would be rich from playing basketball. He and his family were not concerned with whether or not he had an education. Unfortunately neither was the school.

Education is too important to ignore. Not everyone is cut out to excel scholastically. That is fine. But you must be educated about something to accomplish anything. Traditional schooling  is a good base to build on.