Monday, January 31, 2011

Famous last words

We've had our Mercury Grand Marquis for at least six years.  It doesn't get around well in the snow because it's rear-wheel-drive.  However, we really didn't mind because, after all, it just doesn't snow that often around here.  We went without snow tires for five years; we do have the old pickup, which is four-wheel-drive.  It's a gas-guzzler, but in a pinch, we can get around in the snow by using it.  Oh, and Cliff rides to work with Tony, who has a front-wheel-drive car and a four-wheel-drive pickup.  
Then last winter came around, and we were snowed in for a few days.  We vowed to buy snow tires before another winter, and we followed through on that.  Cliff even had the tires studded.
I said, "You know what's going to happen, don't you?  Now that the car is prepared for snow, there  won't be any measurable snow all winter long."  
Boy, did I ever miss the boat on that one.

So, how's the weight loss going?

I'll bore you with the tedious details.  It isn't going.  Cliff and I are at a plateau.  
It's winter, so there isn't a lot of activity going on.  That may be a small part of the problem, but it isn't the chief reason.  
Oh, we're eating all the right things, and none of the wrong ones.  NONE!  I omit nothing in my daily report; I even add the calories found in my daily coffee creamer, which totals 50 for the day.
We're just eating too much of the right things.  Look at this chart from, which tracks my calories and nutrients for the past few days (click on it to see it better):  

Yesterday I did well, staying under 1,300 calories.  The day before?  Not so well.  
It would really be easier if all these storms would cease and desist.  Oh, the reason for so few calories thus far today is that I've only entered my calcium, fish-oil, and multi-vitamin; I try to wait until at least 6 A.M. before I eat breakfast.  
I keep telling myself that as long as I'm not gaining weight, I'm winning.  

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I just don't get it

I have never understood the way people swarm to the grocery store at the slightest mention of snow in the forecast.  We've been having big storms with frighteningly regularity, and as yet I have not felt the need to go grocery shopping because of the weather.  
I'm pretty sure Cliff and I could make it for a month without going shopping if we had to.  I can make bread and biscuits if we're out of bread.  I have a freezer full of good things to eat. I'm not milking my cow this winter, but I always have condensed milk and powdered milk on hand, just in case of an emergency; because when you're ten miles from the nearest grocery store, you can't stop in the middle of meal preparation and go buy something.  There are canned goods galore on the shelves, including several cans of tuna.  There's always plenty of spaghetti, noodles, and macaroni in the cabinets, and any variety of dry beans you can think of.   
This coming storm could be a doozy, but at worst, will anyone be snowed in for more than four days?  The road crews should have things nicely cleared off in that length of time.  
So, could someone please explain this run-to-the-store-oh-my-goodness-it's-going-to-snow phenomenon?  Did you not do your regular shopping this weekend?  

Among my klediments

I'm sorry about the way this entry is laid out, with so much empty space between the pictures; I'm too lazy to do it all over, so this is what you get.  I tried to fix it and only made it worse!

I don't know if everyone is like this, but I have mementoes around my house that have been around so long and are so much a part of me that I don't even see them any more, until I happen to dust them (a rare occurrence) or move them from one place to another for some reason.  I used to have a book written by June Carter Cash called "Among My Klediments".  I've never seen that word used anywhere else, and it isn't in the dictionary.  There's an explanation of it HERE.   The word refers to what I call keepsakes.  
This morning I took a walk around my house and took pictures of a few of my treasures.

This angel playing a stringed instrument was among the flowers at my mom's funeral.  There was a note attached that said "for Donna".  It was from my mom's cousin's son, Terry (I think that makes him my third cousin), who is a couple years younger than I am.  He was the first person to start digging into the Stevens family history many years ago, before my cousin Pauline took the reins.  
I think he wanted me to have this because I like to play guitar and sing.  I hope such an angel is on his shoulder right now, because I've been told he has stomach cancer and the prognosis is not good.    

I bought this on Ebay a few years ago because that's the brand of pop I drank as a child in Iowa.  The Tyler bottling plant wasn't far away.  My favorite was Tyler grape, which I can still taste if I think really hard about it.  I remember when I was so young that I put the whole top of the bottle in my mouth, and Mother told me I was going to swallow the bottle if I didn't watch out.  I recall working really hard at drinking from a pop bottle the right way.  

  Inside the stein reside several pocket knives.  Some were given to Cliff, others were purchased by him but didn't suit him.  

It's quite a collection, isn't it?  That little carved  thing does some sort of trick, but I forget what it is.  When Cliff's awake, I'll find out and let you know.  It was carved by my cousin's husband, Fat.  Yes, everybody called him Fat; it's the name he answered to.  And he really wasn't all that fat.  He passed away a few years ago.  

This is a spoon-holder that resides next to my kitchen range; I use it daily.  I've had it a long time, and it amazes me that it's made it intact for so long. My mother-in-law once went to Nashville with her two daughters and visited the Grand Ole Opry.  While they were in Nashville, they ate a meal at Loretta Lynn's kitchen.  I believe Melva thought Loretta really had something to do with running the restaurant, but I'm pretty sure she only sold the proprietors her name.  Anyway, I think of my late mother-in-law often when I use this.  
Melva had a special knack for enjoying life, a childlike quality you seldom see in anyone past the age of twenty.

When I was pregnant with my son, I baby-sat a little girl named Robin.  Her parents gave me this planter when my baby was born; it had some sort of ivy growing in it, but as with all house plants that come my way, it didn't make it long.  I wouldn't be so attached to this thing except that it's been around since 1967, and I just can't think about getting rid of it now.  

This is a relative newcomer to my clutter.  We have some longtime friends, Tim and Barbara, who decided to go into the winery business; before doing this, they went on a trip to Italy and toured the vineyards there, I think in 1997.  They brought this souvenir back for us.
It makes me a little sad to look at it now:  The couple divorced, and the vineyard and winery has changed hands.  I hate change.  

So, there you have a few of my treasures and the stories behind them.  I'd love to see my fellow bloggers tell me about some of their keepsakes.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Where I'm From

I am from a switchboard in the living room, from Maytag wringer washers and lye soap and bluing and starch.

I am from the rolling north Missouri hills sweet with the smell of budding, flowering branches in spring, and fields plowed and ready to plant, from wild strawberries growing along roadside ditches in June and kittens in the barn.

I am from the murky Missouri River that likes to escape its banks, the cottonwood trees alongside it shedding their sticky stuff that is carried for miles and lands on freshly-waxed cars, making men curse. I’m from one-room schoolhouses and priming the pump and an outhouse out back.

I am from stubbornness and hot tempers, from Smith and Lacy and Cook.

I am from the gossiping and the caring.

From “don’t cross your eyes or they’ll freeze like that” and “put on clean underwear in case we’re in a wreck”.

I am from “there’s an all-seeing Eye watching you” and immersion and the King James Bible and a capella singing; I’m from learning on my own that nobody’s all that perfect, and that grace covers sin.

I'm from cornfields and pastures of the midwest, from Ball jars containing green beans and home-made pickles, beets and peaches, peas and corn, lined up on shelves in dank, musty-smelling cellars where you always keep your eyes open for snakes.

From the time my parents waded mud in December to get married after their car got stuck; the baby Aunt Ruby lost to pneumonia; and the great depression, when people got together and played cards and made ice cream for recreation.

I am from pictures and old letters tossed in a five-gallon lard can that reveal what life was like in the late 1930's, when mama's baby boy was still-born and my grandpa died of cancer. I’m from stories about what it was like when Mother was a little girl. I’m from finding out after she was long-gone that my grandfather wasn’t as kind and gentle as I had been led to believe and, for some reason, being disappointed about that.

I'm from knowing that I come from people as good as any, and better than many.

I wish everybody would do this exercise. I'll guarantee you that if you do it, you'll never forget the feeling. For the template, go HERE. I've done it at least three times, and it always comes out different.

I can think of so many friends and relatives that I'd love to have do this thing. Of course, I can't force them.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Charlie Louvin

Charlie Louvin died a few days ago.  Tipper, of The Blind Pig and the Acorn, had a story to tell about the Louvins.  And yet another story.
I sent the link to Cliff, and he went to Youtube and listened to several versions of "How's The World Treating You".  
Nobody seems to have given the Louvin Brothers any credit for the song they wrote.    
I will admit Allison Krause and James Taylor did it justice.  So did Jim Reeves, who does Cliff's favorite version.  
Like Tipper, I hate it when the writer of the song gets little credit.  But that's just me and Tipper, I suppose.


Two days ago, Cliff took the tractor out and bladed part of our walking path.  This was taken yesterday; it really made a difference in ease of walking.  

Here's what it looks like today.  

With the weather guessers predicting temperatures above fifty, we considered the possibility of a motorcycle ride.  Cliff uncovered the Gold Wing early on, started it up, and let it run awhile.  

By one o'clock, we both knew it was an impossible dream.  Oh, the temperatures were fine, but we couldn't safely get out of the driveway and onto the highway.  

The driveway is slush; it might as well be snot.  I suppose Cliff could manage to get through this mess...

But down there's the problem, where the gravel meets the highway.  

Yes, that.  To the left is the top of a hill over which cars can come at a pretty brisk speed; we wouldn't want the motorcycle to go down in this spot.  There isn't much stopping time once a car tops that hill.  So much for a ride.  

So we just stayed home, enjoyed the sunshine, and chewed our cuds.  

Flash bulb memories

I mentioned in my last post that I wish I had taken some indoor pictures at Grandma's house.  I don't know why I never thought of it, because such pictures would be real treasures now.  The only one I have that was inside her house is a picture of my sister and her family.  It shows nothing of the interior of Grandma's house except  for the stovepipe running from the heat stove in her living room to a wall, behind my sister's family.  
I wish I had a picture of me and the cousins sitting at Grandma's kitchen table drinking Kool Aid and eating good garden vegetables, and a photo of the the extra bedroom where I used to sleep when I spent nights there.  (Remember when Kool Aid was in a brown envelope placed inside of the outer envelope?) 
The Oregon Guy talked about old cameras in his post today, and mentioned flash bulbs.  That brought back a memory that you may find hard to believe.  
I once did a blog entry telling about how my mom and I got caught up in attending professional wrestling matches.  It all started when Daddy was laid up for a long time due to an injury at work; he was the real wrestling fan in the family at that time.  We all three started going to the wrestling matches in St. Joseph on Friday nights.  Daddy went back to work, but Mother and I kept on going; we were hooked.  We bought seats ahead of time so we could sit on, or near, the front row.    Before long we were going to the weekly wrestling events in Kansas City, Kansas, on Thursday nights.  So we were going to see wrestling twice a week.  Every week.  
Once in a blue moon, the really big-time wrestlers came to Municipal Auditorium in downtown Kansas City.  I think those were held on Wednesday nights.  
I always took my brownie camera with its flash attachement along.  I took pictures of all the wrestlers and got autographs from the nice ones, and some from the bad guys too.  I had quite a scrapbook back then.  Now, I refused to admit to myself that the whole wrestling thing was a big show, a fake.  So the "bad guys" usually weren't bad outside the ring, and most of them would give an autograph if asked.  However, I once saw a boy around ten years old hold out his autograph book to Dick the Bruiser, and the Bruiser tore it in half.  I couldn't see the sense in it, since it happened out in the corridor and I was the only witness.  
Now, back to the flash bulbs.  

Antonino Rocca

Dick the Bruiser
Mother and I were at Municipal Auditorium watching Dick the Bruiser from our front-row seats (I think he was wrestling Antonino Rocca, I'm not sure); I'd take a picture of the action, remove the flash bulb, and put it under my chair out of the way.  As often happened, the wrestlers ended up outside the ring on the floor and continued their combat.  They worked their way around to our side of the ring; Dick the Bruiser paused, looked my way, and headed straight toward me.  He bent over, reached between my feet, and grabbed a used flash bulb.  
Now just imagine what was going through my head during this time.  Yeah.  I figured I was going to die at the hands of this madman.  
Dick busted the flash bulb on some part of the wrestling ring and bloodied up his opponent's face with it; I'm assuming that was all faked, but who knows how far those guys would go to put on a convincing act?  Back then I believed every bit of it.  
Thanks for the memory, Guy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Down memory lane

My daughter, Rachel, posted the following video some time back; I don't listen to modern country music, so it was new to me.  Surprisingly, I liked it.  It sounds folksy, and you know how I love folk music.   

Rachel can identify with the song because she grew up in the same house, from the time she started first grade until she graduated.  It's the house we vacated three years ago, the house in which Cliff's sister resides now.  We could move back into it if we wanted; after all, it's our house.      
My parents never lived in one spot long enough for me to really feel that strongly about any house we lived in, but there are a couple of houses I do feel that way about.  

One was Grandma Stevens' house; that's it, behind my cousin Betty, me, and my cousin Royce.  

Here's a shot taken from the road on one of those Sundays or holidays when we all gathered there.  You can even see the smokehouse.  

The quality of this picture isn't great, but on the left side of the picture is Grandma's pump, next to the smokehouse.  
I regret there are so few pictures taken inside Grandma's house.  I've always wished I had a picture of her sitting in her rocking chair, crocheting.  I'd love to have a picture of her sitting upstairs at her quilting frame.  She spent a lot of time in those two locations.  There's no reason why I couldn't have pictures inside Grandma's house:  I received a Brownie camera for my fifteenth birthday, and the flash attachment worked great.  I just never stopped to think that one day she wouldn't be around, and all I'd have left of her house would be the memories.   
I can still close my eyes and walk around her house, in my mind.  I know where the refrigerator stands, and the cookie jar and the table.  I know which corner the stove was, and the breadbox.  I know exactly where she kept the Hi-Ho crackers.  I can almost see her sitting on a tall stool at the cupboard, making noodles or assembling pies. 
Grandma didn't rearrange her furniture, or buy new stuff.  She had the same kitchen table until the day she died.  When you're a kid it's a comfort to know there's someplace you can go that will be the same as last time you saw it.  Especially when your parents change residences every three or four years, sometimes oftener.  
About a half-mile up the road from Grandma was Uncle Leo's farm; for many years it stayed the same too, but eventually they added plumbing, with running water in the kitchen, and a bathroom.  They also enclosed the front porch and made it part of the living room.  Still, it had the feel of "going back home" when we visited there, changed or not.  
I've decided it's a part of getting old, this business of reminiscing about old times and old places, the feeling that we've lost something along the way.  I accept it, but I don't have to like it.

So, it's come to this

This is not to bore you non-Farmville folks with details of a stupid game; this entry is only to illustrate cabin fever at its worst.  
On Farmville you can have all sorts of animals, plants, and trees.  You harvest crops and get paid; you build wineries and bakeries to use your crops.  You join co-ops so you can work together with friends for a bonus.
It's nothing but a time-waster.  
Oh, and you have to beg from your Farmville friends all the time; if you have a hungry dog, you beg for bones.  If you need watering cans for your trees, you beg for water, because it takes ten watering cans to get a tree from a sapling to a grown, producing tree.  
Yeah.  This is an old woman telling you this nonsense.  With age comes wisdom?  Obviously not.
So, on Farmville one can buy a nice little square orchard that holds twenty trees, so you can harvest those twenty trees all at once.  
Hang on here, I'm getting ready to illustrate how bad things can get when you're housebound, longing for spring and gardening weather.   

I decided it might be a good idea to buy a separate orchard for each variety of tree I have:  Grapefruit trees in one, peach trees in one, etc.  Do you see my many orchards along the edge of my farm, going all the way around the corner?  
So I am forced to beg my Farmville friends for water for the latest seedling tree, and for boards, bricks and nails to build yet another orchard, because some varieties of trees are still mixed in with other varieties.  
I think the time has come for the men in the white coats to come and haul me away.    

On a positive note, I've become a millionaire on Farmville.  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Well, hello there

I have little to tell about today; no exciting happenings, nothing new.  
OK, here's something:  Cliff said, "If we keep having winters like this, maybe we will start spending winters in Texas like your sister."  
"I can't see you making it a whole winter without your tractors," I said.  "Perhaps we should try it for one month; we could trailer the Gold Wing down and ride all the time we're there.  I'll check on rental prices for some of the park models down there."  
$1,000 a month ended that discussion.  I suggested we just visit my sister for a week.    

Are you tired of snow pictures yet?  
That's Iris, two-thirds of the way up Angina hill; yes, this is the incline that made Cliff have chest pains every day for over a month.  Lord only knows what kept him from having a heart attack right in the middle of that slope. 

 I wonder what she's looking for?  

Here's something I've been studying up on:  Dogs that don't shed, or shed very little.  When Iris croaks, believe me, I'm going to have my head about me enough to get a non-shedding breed.  I'm not fond of poodles, but I wouldn't mind a poodle mix.  Schnauzers seem like a nice breed.  Yorkies are tiny and cute, but from what I've read they're sometimes difficult to house-break, and will take over if you let them.  I'd consider them, though, just because of the cute factor.  
No, I'm not getting rid of Iris; once I get a dog, it's a commitment, like marriage.  She fits in here just fine, hair and all.  I'm getting used to vacuuming every. single. day.  She's happy with us and, except for the shedding, we're happy with her.  
The preceding pictures were from yesterday's walk; the following ones are from today.  

There's my poor, neglected cabin, surrounded by trees covered with hoarfrost.  

It looks like a Christmas card, doesn't it?  Before our walk in the woods was over, the frost was falling on us in flakes, just like snowflakes.   
Walking was harder today because of the little bit of thawing yesterday.  A crust froze back on top of the snow and really made it difficult.  
That's about all I know for today; hopefully inspiration will visit me tomorrow.

Publish your blog to Kindle

I did not get it done, for some reason.  I used an approved browser (Firefox for Mac); I got my account set up and the blog verified.  I took the screen shots required and made them GIF files, as told to do.  But when I clicked to upload the pictures, nothing happened.   
Maybe it's because I'm using an Apple computer.  No biggie, anyhow, but I wanted to pass the word along so others could do this if they so desire.   

Click HERE to go to Leigh Ann Little's blog; she'll explain the process.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Odds and ends

Cliff mentioned something he needed from town today, and I said, excitedly, "We're going to town?  We really have to go someplace?"  
He took the hint; we went to Home Depot.  As soon as we walked inside, I saw mini-greenhouses similar to the ones I always use to start my tomato plants inside.  That's all I needed to really got excited!  

I got two different kinds, to find out whether I liked one better than the other.  I'm sure I could have gotten a cheaper kind at Walmart, but these were right in front of me; a bird in the hand, you know.  I figure I shouldn't start my tomato and pepper plants until March first or so, but I'm glad I have them here, ready.  
Guess what else I got?  

 An indoor herb garden!  I planted chives, parsley, and basil.  The pots, seeds, and potting soil were all in the package.  The seeds should germinate in seven to ten days.  Last summer I learned to love fresh basil from the garden; it has lots more flavor than the dried stuff.  Now maybe I'll soon have something I can watch growing, snow or no snow.   
We went in Target to see our granddaughter briefly (she works there), and I spent a while in Petco trying to find a ball that Iris can't tear up.  Good luck with that, I tell myself.  We'll see if she can destroy the three new ones I got.  
I went for a walk in the snow yesterday; Cliff declined:  he said walking in snow eight inches deep made his knees hurt.  For some reason, when I'm walking in deep snow I wander all over the place, rather than going in a straight line.  

I think it's partly because I'm looking down at my feet, rather than where I'm headed.  In some places the snow is deeper than my Muck boots.  A lot of thawing took place today.  The snow is just right for a snowman, but I think I'll pass on building one.  

I'm not a health nut

I thought perhaps I should straighten that out.  Oh, I do try to serve lots of veggies and fruits, and limit sweets, but that's mostly because Cliff and I, at our ages, gain weight just by driving past a fast-food restaurant.  As I've pointed out before, it's costly to eat out, and we're getting ready for retirement.  Not to mention the health issues:  Our family doctor yelled at us recently because Cliff's sugars have been high a couple of times, and he says it's because of weight gain.  
I watch sodium religiously.  One thing I will say for the much-maligned Walmart, they sell their own brand of salt-free tomato sauce, paste, and canned tomatoes for the same price as the salted variety.  Most grocery stores charge a higher price for salt-free and lower-sodium goods.  
Speaking of much-maligned, I mentioned that Aldi's has a lot of overly-processed foods, and that is true.  However, they are usually the most affordable place to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, beating Walmart prices almost every time.  If we had an Aldi's nearby, there are certain things I would buy there regularly.  Not canned tomato products, though, because theirs are heavily salted.     
When my kids were at home, I baked all kinds of sugary and starchy goodies and really didn't worry much about proper nutrition.  They were limited to two bottles or cans of soda per week, but that had more to do with our finances than their health.     
Would I do things differently if I had it to do over?  I believe I would, and if they had been raised on a more healthy diet, they probably wouldn't have known the difference.  Kids do tend to eat whatever they're familiar with.  In a school cafeteria, though, they probably like to eat whatever their classmates are having; peer pressure is a funny thing.  
For the first year or two after Cliff had heart surgery, I was quite strict with our diets.  I monitored caffeine and cholesterol; I read labels with a missionary zeal, checking for sodium and trans-fats.  Little by little we slipped totally off that bandwagon, except for continuing to limit sodium at home.  However, we got plenty of extra sodium by eating out two or three times a week.  Of course restaurant food tastes extra-salty to a palate that's been trained to low-sodium, but that didn't slow us down.  As much as Cliff enjoys food, I'm the culprit responsible for our eating out; he'd always prefer to eat at home.  He eats out only because it's a treat for me.       
We're truly working at getting back to the diligence about our diets that we first had after his CABG in 2006.  It's not easy, but then nothing good in life seems to come easily.  It's easy to get discouraged, because the pounds don't drop off the way they did when we were younger.  But we intend to eat properly even if we never see another pound drop off!  There are other benefits to eating properly besides weight-loss.  We're both old enough to know we're not going to look like sex symbols, no matter how much weight we lose.  We just want to be healthy.   

By the way, don't expect your heart doctor to tell you anything about what you should eat and drink.  You're on your own.  Even when I asked the cardiologist questions about diet, he seemed surprised and had trouble coming up with answers.  


Steve Goodman is one of the best impersonators I've seen.  Here's his Obama act.  How does he do it?

This was in an email I received along with the suggestion that Obama is trying to stop this man's impersonating him.  I seriously doubt that; I did some searching and couldn't find any basis for that; after all, part of being President is having people make fun of you.

Here's the same guy doing George W. Bush:

He also does Arnold Schwartzenegger.

Cliff spent about a half-hour watching this man on Youtube yesterday and laughing out loud.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Comments on my entry about school lunches

I had some insightful comments from readers about my previous post about school lunches, and I want to share them all with you.  The last two commenters are school teachers; the lady who left the final comment teaches not far away from here.  What she has to say is really eye-opening, and may give some of my readers a reason to count their blessings. 

Blogger Anita said...

I've read Mrs. Q's blog off and on for a while now. She was featured on one of the morning shows last year; in shadow though.
The comments that she's gotten on her blog have varied and provided much "food for thought" :) just as your post has.
I'll be looking for her book.
You're right; parents are very busy these days - taking kids here to there, making decisions after reading paper after paper that's sent home, or the numerous emails. Whew!
But we can do better. I think it has to be a big revelation for parents before a committment is made to improve our diets.
I'm certainly guilty of eating and providing the junk food, but I continue to do better with nutrition. Sodas are a no-no most of the time. And I continue to buy the fruits and veggies. Wish me luck with my meal planning. :)
9:17 AM

Blogger ingasmile said...

I am a very concerned parent when it comes to what happens during a school day and that includes lunches, recesses and enough PE/art/music time. My kids both like school lunches but do not get that kind of stuff at home. We grow a big garden and now have chickens so my boys are learning every day about good nutrition.

Neither of my kids wants to take a lunch to school though. Plus I am not sure the nutrition of ham/cheese or PBJ sandwiches are any better than what they are already receiving at school.

Jamie Oliver is trying to rally the US for better school lunches. I love watching him cook with such enthusiasm.

I do think many parent's just don't care but there are many others who do and would like to see drastic changes made.

10:11 AM

Blogger Ms Martyr said...

I also was going to mention Jamie Oliver in a different context. A few years back he had a show where he was trying to improve the school lunches in Great Britain. He showed by example how he could make nutritious lunches for the same cost as junk food. Many of the kids and their parents were unfamiliar with vegetables. He also met with quite a bit of resistance from the food preparers.

Much of the food offered in the US school lunch program is subsidized by the companies providing it. I know the schools are strapped for funds and are almost forced to accept what is offered because they can't afford anything better.
11:07 AM

Blogger Midlife Mom said...

When I think of the stuff that I ate in school lunch it makes me sick. Seriously it was horrible, those big fat hot dogs, fish sticks, chemical meat sandwiches, gag! Doesn't sound like they are much better today in some places. They have a la carte here but the kids just pick the stuff they like not the veggies and good stuff.

3:31 PM

Blogger Margaret said...

It is way more expensive and time-consuming to eat healthy stuff, whether school lunches or meals at home. Sad,isn't it?

4:47 PM

 A school teacher In a nearby metropolitan district said...On a personal level, since I work in an area high school, I find the lunches in my building totally awful -- and not very filling. We also serve breakfast -- cold cereal and a small container of milk. Lunches are sandwiches and chicken nuggets. We no longer have a cafeterial staff that cooks -- to save money all the food is brought in from a central point and all we have on site are servers and dish washers. 99% of our student body eats free lunch. For probably at least 35% of them (maybe a lot more), this is the only food they get all day. 30% of our student body is either homeless or living with relatives / friends. We open during snow storms (when every other school district has closed) because we know that our kids get the only food they see during the week from us. I keep a pantry in my coat closet to feed kids who are hungry -- ramen noodles is a staple because it's warm and filling. So are breakfast bars, jello, apple sauce, pudding, chef-boy-r-dee spaghetti bowls -- all containing lots of "processed" ingredients. But they require no refigeration and can be "nuked" in a couple of minutes. Sometimes the food you can get a hold of is better than no food at all.

4:51 PM

School lunches

I'm reading on the CNN website (click here) about a lady who ate school lunches at an urban midwest school for a year and blogged about it.  Since she works at the school, she has kept her identity a secret, but will reveal it later this year when she publishes a book about her project.  
"She found the school food revolting, but her students hardly complained about the meals. For many of them, it's their favorite meal of the day -- especially hot dogs, chicken nuggets and pizza. Ninety five percent of the kids at her school receive free or reduced-price meals, Mrs. Q estimated."
I personally don't find it surprising that most kids liked the meals, because the people with whom I've rubbed shoulders serve the same kind of over-processed junk to their kids at home; Children like to eat the things they're used to.  
Do you think I'm being critical of their parents?  I'm not, because over-processed junk is usually what's most affordable; Aldi's, anyone?  There's also the fact that in homes where both parents work, or where there is only one parent available, meal preparation time is limited.  Let's face it, it takes a lot more time to cook meals from scratch than it does to stick a frozen pizza or chicken pot pie in the oven; Hamburger Helper is quick, and so easy to make that a ten-year-old can prepare supper.  Kids love Ramen noodles, and who stops to analyze the nutrient content (what nutrients?) of these things when they're so cheap?  
Oh, I have dozens of recipes that are frugal, nutritious, and quick to fix; but I don't expect busy parents to go searching for new things to prepare when the kids are happy with the status quo.  Let's not rock the boat, shall we?  
I'll shut up before I get started on soft drinks.  I still haven't found any good reason why people would supply growing children with sweetened water when they say they can't afford to buy fresh fruit.  
I leave you with the link to the blog, "Fed Up With Lunch".  

What would become of the shop expansion, with Cliff in the hospital?

Cliff had been having heartburn (we thought) every time we went for our walk, as we were climbing the steepest hill.  When my visiting friend Joanna suggested I should get him to the doctor about that, I took her at her word and made an appointment.  Meanwhile, we went ahead riding our motorcycle every chance we got.  Somehow I had forgotten all about the fact that you can't take anything for granted!  We were having a blast, and nothing could spoil our enjoyment of life.  
Nothing except maybe a four-way heart bypass.  Yeah, that'll do it.  
Cliff was sent to a cardiologist on Wednesday and they put him straight in the hospital; an ambulance took him there from the doctor's office, because the doctor said, "I can't in good conscience let you to drive a car."  
What?  We'd been running all over the countryside on a motorcycle.  How could this be?   
An angiogram told the story, four blocked arteries; one of them was narrow and "weird" according to the cardiologist, so stints weren't even an option.
We spent that afternoon together in a hospital room, stunned beyond belief.  At one point Cliff said, his voice breaking, "We'll have to sell the bike."  
"Maybe not," I told him.  "The doctor said something about your being able to resume normal activities in three months."  
He didn't seem convinced.  
The thought crossed my mind that it was surely a good thing we'd gone ahead and built the shop; Cliff had already had seven years enjoying it.  I didn't expect him to die in surgery, but I figured this thing would definitely shorten his life span... thanks to all the information I was hunting up on the Internet.  
Ailing people and their relatives should be locked off the Internet; it'll scare you to death, and if you're not sick when you start googling up symptoms, you will be when you're done.  

After four days in the hospital, Cliff headed home, hugging his "heart" pillow.  He wasn't supposed to lift over ten pounds for three months.  As you can imagine, he didn't stick to this rule; but he'll tell you that for the first several weeks, he couldn't have lifted anything heavy if he'd wanted to.  Believe me, he tried.  Thanks to his wonderful job, we didn't miss a paycheck and most of the over-$100,000 hospital bill was paid by insurance. 

He sat around the shop a lot, wishing he could get back to work on the shop addition he'd begun before all this stuff happened.  Left to right, that's David, one of our neighbors; Tony, the guy Cliff rides to work with; Cliff, of course; and one of the twins next door.  Cliff was letting that unfinished lean-to drive him crazy; he hates to leave a job unfinished.

He wasn't supposed to be outside if the temperature was over 85 (for the rest of his life, actually), and he wasn't supposed to exert himself for three months.  So he watched the neighbor boys do a lot of his work.  He drove me crazy pushing the limits of what he was supposed to do, but today he seems very much back to normal.  We're still riding the motorcycle.  
As for the addition to the shop, family members stepped in while Cliff was still too weak to pick up a hammer (he tried, but was weak as a kitten) and finished the job.  I know I have pictures of that somewhere, but I couldn't find it.  His sister and her husband, the daughter's entire family, and the next-door twins, at least one of them, pitched in to help.  

Looking back, I still wonder why it didn't occur to me that a person having chest pains every time they're doing something strenuous probably isn't having heartburn.  Most likely it's angina.  Remember that, because it might save the life of someone you care about.  I still shudder when I realize Cliff was so at risk that the doctor wouldn't let him drive four miles to a hospital, and yet we'd been riding the motorcycle all over the place.   

Sunday, January 23, 2011

So, back to the shop

Cliff was hard at work on the added wing to his shop, but it was April; it was the weekend.  We had bought a Honda Gold Wing the previous year.  

So we went for a ride.  The matching Gold Wing shirts we wore that day had been given to us the weekend before by my good friend Joanna, who lives near Washington, DC; she had come for a visit.  

We decided to go to Versailles to visit Cliff's aunt.  His sister Charlene and her husband rode along with us on their Harley.  We had a good visit with the aunts.  Cliff's cousin, Darryl, told us about a scenic road to take on the way home that would be a wonderful motorcycle ride, and Aunt Gertrude said, "Oh, you don't want to take that old crooked road."  She didn't understand that crooked roads are fun on a motorcycle.  

The next day was Easter Sunday, and we rode our motorcycle to Church where we heard the New Life Choir sing.  Life was good.
Four days later, Cliff was in the hospital.  

(to be continued)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Yes, my dog watches television

I've blogged before about Iris' reaction when we watch Dog Whisperer.  She attacks the television any time she sees a dog, a horse, a chicken... well, pretty much any kind of animal.  We have a plasma TV, so the idea of a dog attacking the screen is a little scary.  She could ruin our television.
I still watch Cesar Milan, but these days I put a leash on her.  I let her growl, but if she gets up and lunges at the end of the leash, I make her lay back down.  Hopefully she will learn to lie down beside my chair when Dog Whisperer is on.  She is learning, as you can see in the following video.  Oh, she isn't going to shut up, but at least she's not attacking the television.  Toward the end of our session I removed the leash; she stayed right beside me.

This is how she looked when I decided to stop watching Cesar.  No leash.  She was still watching, but without a leash.  Progress!

Enjoying the shop

In July of the year 2000, I actually went to work.  Now, we live in the country and I don't drive, so it's always been difficult to find a job, although I've had several:  The trick is finding someone to ride with first, then putting in an application where the potential ride works.  Kohl's Distribution Center opened in the spring of 2000, starting with a skeleton staff of "associates".  (What ever happened to employees?  Now everybody's an associate.)  
My ex-daughter-in-law, Kat, went to work at the D.C., and when they needed more people, it was time for me to go to work. Kohl's bribed their employees with a gift certificate for each person they recommended who ended up getting hired.  A neighbor across the road went to work there the same time I did, so I had my transportation to work.  
Now we actually had enough money to buy Cliff more toys for his shop; not only that, we went and bought a John Deere tractor, the first almost-new tractor he's ever had.  
At this point I really wanted to see Cliff get everything he needed or wanted.  You see, he'd gone all the years we were raising a family with hardly any funds to spend on himself.  He'd always had a decent vehicle and a tractor or two, but for the most part when he got his paycheck, it was gone.  Now it was just the two of us and I was working, so I intended to make up for lost time.  I actually had to insist he buy the John Deere; he just didn't seem to feel as though he deserved it.  It was the same with power washers, air compressors, and other things we bought.  He always thought it was too expensive, or that he should wait till later; I always pushed him in the direction of getting it.  I still do that, even with small items; we'll be at Walmart and he'll be eyeing something he needs, and he'll say, "Twenty-five dollars is too much for that; I can do without it," and I'll say, "Now Cliff, you know you're going to be at home needing that and you'll kick yourself for not buying it."  
He's learned over the years that I'm right about that, and he'll go ahead and get it, but he'll gripe all the way home about how much he paid for it.     
Back to the shop, the 38' by 40' shop that looked so huge when it was first built.  Cliff had it full in no time, and wished he'd made it ten feet deeper.  
In April of 2006, he decided to add a lean-to on the side of the shop, a place where he could park tractors and lawn mowers so they would be out of the way.  Our son-in-law was working at a lumber yard at the time, and sometimes a buyer wouldn't take all his stuff, or the lumber yard would be shipped twice as much stuff as they were supposed to have; they'd price these things at a cheap price, just to get them out of the way.  Kevin would pass the savings on to us, so Cliff really didn't have to spend a lot adding the wing.  

Here he is with granddaughter Natalie, starting the project in early April, 2006.  

Natalie is in the bucket with Cliff in this shot, handing him the drill when he needs it.  Kevin, our son-in-law, is operating the John Deere.  

Things were humming along smoothly.  Now keep in mind this was April, so we took time out for a motorcycle ride every once in awhile.  

(To be continued)