Saturday, February 29, 2020

Hurrah for chicken!

Our nearest Aldi is twenty miles away, but since we don't leave the house a lot in winter, sometimes we just drive to Blue Springs with the idea it's a road trip we needed.  That way I don't have to worry about money spent versus gasoline consumed, because it's, you know, for pleasure.  This week, Aldi made me very happy:  ten pounds of chicken leg quarters at 49 cents per pound.  I hadn't bought one of those big old bags of chicken for years, not since we first began filling the freezers with beef several years ago.  You see, my mindset is this:  Don't buy meat in the store if you have a freezer full of meat.  So we haven't been using a lot of chicken.  But then the tragedy happened.  I'm sure if you're a regular reader, you remember that while we were on a road trip, one of our two deep freezes quit working, and a lot of money went down the drain in meat, not to mention the cost of raising that steer and the fee paid the butcher shop.  While I do wish it hadn't happened, I'll admit it's rather nice to know I can go ahead and buy chicken sometimes without feeling guilty that I'm not using what I have on hand.  

I've blogged before about how I cook 10 pounds of chicken, debone and de-skin it, and freeze it in two-cup amounts for casseroles.  That entry is HERE.  For only five bucks, I went through this rather messy project yesterday and came up with seven two-cup freezer-bags of cubed chicken, five two-cup bags of broth, and two four-cup bags of broth.  Many casseroles that call for cooked chicken also require chicken broth.  Any time I see I'm not using the broth as fast as I need to (I like to keep it in the freezer no longer than a year), I add it to soup.  Or make noodles.  

I love casseroles.  They are oftentimes quick and easy.  With some of them, you simply mix a bunch of stuff and stick it in the oven.  I surfed over to, did a search of recipes using the words "casserole" and "chicken", and came up with more than you can imagine.  Click HERE to see them, or just do the search for yourself at your leisure.  

 When we buy a cooked Costco chicken, I often freeze enough of the chicken for two or three casseroles after we've both eaten our share with a meal.  I doubt if I'll be buying any of those for awhile, armed with all this prepared chicken.

A casserole can be the whole meal by itself, although I usually have green beans, broccoli, peas, carrots or a baked sweet potato with a casserole.  I grew up with a mother who said, in her declining years, "I like to eat anything that grows in the ground."  I guess that made an impression on me.  I will find a way to add vegetables to the meal, unless soup is the main course.  Even if we're having chicken salad sandwiches (another use for that chicken in the freezer), I cut up some carrot sticks and celery to have with them.

I use All-recipes like crazy lately.  Unfortunately, I've used it for things Cliff and I don't need, like cookies and breads, but that's the story of our lives together, I suppose.  I've found two of the best cookie recipes of my life in the last few months and need to force myself to quit making them or we will soon wind up being blimps... or corpses, you decide which... or you could wait and find out later. 

 I always choose the most highly rated recipes for whatever I'm looking for and haven't had any disappointments.  I usually read some of the comments people leave on the recipes, but I won't make any of their suggested changes until I first try the recipe like it was meant to be.  If that turns out well, next time I make it I'll read some comments and decide if any of the changes others have tried would be something I'd want to use.  Usually, they're not.  

I'll be posting the link to this entry on Facebook; I'm doing it especially for a young woman who asked for some recipes.  We're having tenderloin today; and pancakes, sausage, and bacon after church tomorrow. But after that, I see many casseroles in our future.


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Nashville is in our future

I love these days that have the smell and feel of spring.  After a few days of not going for a walk, due to rain or discomfort from the fire in my innards, I got back to it today; I didn't go all the way down the biggest hil todayl because when I traversed it two days ago I had problems; I wasn't going to be able to climb back up it that steep incline.  It was a day my stomach was bothering me anyway, and I think I just let myself get weak, laying around feeling sorry for myself.  Yesterday and today have been good days.

I went to see the nurse-practitianor at our doctor's office Tuesday to tell her the omeprazole wasn't working all the time.  I told her all the things I'm doing to try and get this fixed:  I quit drinking coffee and tea; Cliff raised the head of the bed 8 inches; I've stopped eating anything after 6 PM (three hours before bedtime).  She said there's one more thing we could try, and I was ready to try anything.  So now I have a pill that I take four times a day before each meal and at bedtime.  It's pretty tricky.  If I didn't have Alexa in the house, I wouldn't get it done properly:  I'm to take a pill an hour before a meal, on an empty stomach.  So I set a timer to remind me when to take the pill, then another hour timer so I know when to take the omeprazole   Then I can't eat for thirty to forty-five minutes.  Also, I can't take the new pills with my other meds.  This pill is only to be taken for four to six weeks, the hope being that it will heal me in that time.  I sure hope it works.  It isn't just the discomfort when it flairs up, but even when I feel fine, I'm afraid to make plans not knowing whether I'll be up for doing anything when the time comes.  

And we do have plans!  Cliff, his sister, and I are planning to go to Nashville next month.  I have our Grand Ole Opry tickets paid for and the hotel room reserved.  I would have liked to rent a house for three or four days through VRBO, but you can't cancel those if something goes wrong at the time of the trip; so I played it safe.  Things are pretty expensive in Nashville, but there are lots of things to see and do.  

We've been there before:  When Cliff was working at the butcher shop, his boss paid for rooms for the employees and we all stayed in the Opryland Hotel.  We went to the Grand Ole Opry, too.  That's about the cheapest vacation we ever went on (not for his boss, maybe)!   Then one time Cliff's mom, his two sisters and I went down to go to the Opry.  It was in late March.  Cliff's dad, who was always a perpetual prophet of doom, said we shouldn't be going at that time because it would be sure to snow.  I laughed, telling him Tennessee is farther south and probably didn't get snow in March.  Guess what?  After we got down there and stayed for one night, it began snowing.  Those people cannot drive in snow!  The whole trip home was a mess, and really, the snow is the main thing I remember about it.  I don't recall who starred on the Opry, although I know Jean Shepherd was there both times I attended.  Evidently she performed on most of the shows.  Not this time, though.  She's dead.  

The pussy willow that was barely more than a twig when my cousin Betty gave it to me is actually looking like a bush now and comes up to my chin.  The buds are swelled up as though they can't wait to do their thing.

I believe that's it for today.  Looks like a nice weekend coming up for the working folks.  

I want all my friends who live with chronic pain to know I think of them on those days when I don't feel well; I realize how lucky I am that, in my 75 1/2 years on earth, I've not had a lot of pain.  My knees are achy, but really that doesn't affect my quality of life unless I do too much walking; even then, when I sit down, I'm fine.  I feel for all those folks who get up every morning knowing it's going to be just one more painful day in a series, with no relief.  I've prayed for these people many times in the past, and surely will continue.  You know who you are.


Monday, February 24, 2020

Rainy day

This time of year, it seems everybody is longing for spring.  Saturday morning when I went outside, it truly felt like spring was in the air.  Sunday wasn't bad either, but sometime in the night, it started raining; today is gloomy, cool, and wet, so it feels more like November.  

I accomplished nothing yesterday, didn't even go to church.  I woke up with acid reflux that pretty much disabled me, although I take omeprazole every morning.  I could find no relief, and was so miserable I took everything in the house that is supposed to help with stomach acid.  I also took an extra omeprazole capsule, which made three for the day.  You name it, I ingested it:  Pepto Bismal, baking soda, various over-the-counter products... I really didn't care if it killed me, just so it put me out of my misery.  I gave up coffee a couple of weeks ago and began drinking hot tea for breakfast, then quit that also.  This morning I simply drank hot water from my coffee cup.  I'm careful about the timing of the omeprazole, because it's to be taken fifteen to forty-five minutes before the first meal of the day.  Online advice tells me I shouldn't eat anything three hours before going to bed, so last night, after a day of misery, I followed that guideline (not that I was eating much anyway).  I've always just snacked in the evening right up to bedtime rather than sitting down to a meal.  There are so many changes I don't like, but I don't like being miserable, either.

OK, that's it for my whining.  I feel fine today.  We had to go to the bank, so I went into the store and got some peach-flavored herb tea for my morning drink.  Let's face it, hot water isn't very enjoyable unless it's flavored with something.  I tried it out when we got home, and it may become my drink of choice!  

I just finished the book "This Tender Land" by William Kent Krueger.  What an amazing piece of fiction it is, and very fulfilling.  There are many twists and turns, lots of scary moments.  The ending is satisfactory, wrapping up all the loose ends.  It's a book I won't soon forget.

We went to the Knights of Columbus fish fry in Lexington Friday night.  In past years, we've gone to several of the fish-fries in the area during each Lenten season.  But as I told Cliff, at $20 for the two of us, I think one is enough.  I'm getting rather particular about eating out:  I do like fish, but I also like the Mexican place at Richmond (reasonable prices) and the Italian place at Buckner (higher prices, but lots of food, and it's so good).  You can also get a good fish dinner year-around at the Bates City Cafe for a lower price, too.  The truth is, I don't enjoy eating out as much as I used to; I think more about the overall cost and quality than I once did.

For some reason, Gabe has started scarfing down his dog food like he did as a puppy, swallowing it whole, finishing in sixty seconds, and puking it up five minutes later.  Then he eats the regurgitated food and it stays down the second time.  He might be happy with that solution, but I am not, even though he always goes to the door so I can let him outside to do his vomiting.  So I dug out the old puzzle bowl I got for him when he was a puppy.  Boy, that does slow him down... and there's no upchucking afterward.  Of course, I got it on Amazon... where else?  I highly recommend it.
I'm going to miss my walk in the woods today, but it's been sprinkling or raining this whole day.  I have two books on the iPad to begin, but I'm still enjoying the glow from the one I just finished and it's hard to start anything else while I'm still ruminating on that one.

This is such a complaining, trivial entry that I'm not sharing it on Facebook like I do some entries.  It's a gloomy day, and nothing new is happening, so I may as well bring this to a close.

Yours truly,


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Six o'clock in the morning

It's an hour until I wake Cliff up.  Most blog entries take longer than an hour to get finished by the time I proof-read things and change it around a bit.  If I'm adding photos or links, it takes longer.  But we'll see how much "nothing" I have to say this morning.

Gabe had his every-two-month grooming yesterday.  Most dogs are happy to visit Bed-and-Bones because they are treated so well there; we used to take the grandson's Great Dane for him occasionally for a bath (because, did you ever try to fit a Great Dane into a bathtub?).  The closer we got, the more excited Titan became, until when we arrived and unloaded him, he'd eagerly run to the door.  Not so with Gabe:  First of all, he hates getting a bath, even at home.  So I imagine the thought of not only being bathed, but also having clippers buzzed all over his body afterward, seems horrific to him.  When I took him inside the facility and put him down, he ran to the door through which we had just entered and started pawing at it.  I always feel guilty, leaving him, but it's part of owning a Schnauzer; they have to be groomed.  When we went to pick him up, he was running around behind the desk with a big Standard Poodle who had befriended him, and was very glad to see me.  One thing I like about Bed-and-Bones:  Dogs aren't kept in a cage during the day unless it becomes necessary for some reason; they get to play with the other guests, go outside when they want to or need to, and get plenty of exercise. In summer, there's a pool outside for those who like to play in water.  

We have some errands to run today that will have us coming back from the city around noon:  This is always a problem, because I cook meals from scratch most times; so when there aren't leftovers, we are really hungry at noon, due to the fact we usually have a bowl of cereal with fruit, or sometimes scrambled eggs and toast.  It's the only time I can really limit calories for the two of us.  But by noon, we are hungry!  So I assessed things in the freezer and found a couple of packages of diced ham ham marked "ham casserole" from the last ham we cooked.  So I gave up some of my precious morning time that I would have spent reading and made a ham casserole.  We'll heat a couple of servings up when we get home.  I think I'll have green beans with it.  We love the casserole, but it has WAY too much butter in it, which I feel isn't necessary.  I made it by the recipe this time because it was early and I didn't want to experiment at that time of day.  But I intend to get some of that butter out of the recipe.  On the bright side, it's probably no worse for us than the Whopper Meal we often grab when we're out at noon.  And it isn't costing $15 for two of us.  

The little girl we used to babysit spent most of a day with us last week.  School was cancelled because of snow and cold weather; she was with her local grandparents' for the day and asked her grandma to call us and ask if she could come and play.  And we did play!  She shouts orders and Cliff does her bidding.  I get my turn playing too, but I don't yield so easily to her dictator whims.  She's in kindergarten, you know; I handed her a children's book and told her to show me some words she knows:  I was impressed.  She recognized many words.  When she was here every day, I could never interest her in learning letters or numbers.  Even when she got to the point she knew her numbers, she would deliberately give the wrong answer.  She is hard-headed!  But I guess genuine teachers know some secrets to make kids learn.

OK, Cliff's wakeup time approaches.  I wish you all a good day.  Spring is coming... I can almost feel it heading this way.  I know we could still have snow and cold weather right up to April, but I'm hoping for the best.

Yours truly,

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Sonnets and Haiku

This online course on creative writing is taking me places I had no desire to go, and is totally out of my comfort zone.  I did not intentionally sign up for a course that was going to include poetry; when I first saw this, I thought it might be easy for me, since I've written many poems.  But they are asking me to write particular kinds of poems.  My last assignment forced me to write some free verse, which you know I hate if you've read my poem book.  I got 100% on the test, and the instructor said it was "impressive".  Hmph.  Since I like rhymes, I did sneak a couple of them in, free verse or not.  I wasn't even allowed to pick my subject!  It had to be about eating an apple on a crowded bus.  So the following is how it looks when I try writing free verse, while sneaking in a couple of rhymes:

A bus pregnant with passengers unloaded some,
Making room for me.
I stepped aboard, paid the fare, found a seat:
No energy.

The Fuji apple I didn’t eat at lunch now calls my name.
Without delay,
The brown bag rattles as I slip my hand inside and touch the prize
Chasing blues away.

I rub it vigorously on my denim jeans to make it shine
And salivate,
Then take a crunchy bite, and find it crisp as a September day.
Cares evaporate.

Each bite sends forth tiny drops of sweetness.  So juicy!
Sticky hands.
And now I think perhaps tomorrow is a brighter day
Than I had planned.

Doesn't seem impressive to me, although Cliff said it made him want to eat an apple.

Today my assignment gave me a choice between two forms, thank goodness.  The first one is Haiku, a form of poetry I dislike even more than free verse.  I took the other choice and composed a sonnet, which at least has a rhythmic beat, and rhymes.  Unfortunately, I was given no choice on the subject.  The sonnet had to be about beauty.  Once I got started, that wasn't quite so difficult for me as I thought it might be.

How does one describe what beauty means?
It’s different things through different persons’ eyes.
My husband sees a beauty I’ve not seen
In my old wrinkled face and fading eyes.

A mother will find beauty in her child
Though all the world may say the kid is plain.
A farmer checks his hogs, and is beguiled,
And sees great beauty in a summer rain.

But children! Everywhere they look, there’s beauty.
They see it, touch it, feel it all around!
Before they’re tied to schools or jobs or duties,
Every second is with beauty crowned.

If we’d look at the world and be aware,
We’d understand there's beauty everywhere

I don't consider either of these anything I'd be particularly proud of, but the exercises and assignments do stretch me.  They make me do things I would never have attempted, left to my own devices. 

Who knows what I'll study once this course is done?  There's Writing Improvement, English Composition, Novel Writing, Creative Writing 101, How to Write Short Stories for Children, Non-fiction Writing, Creative Writing for Beginners... it goes on and on, and I'm having so much fun.

Sincerely yours, 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The days are getting longer

Winter drags on and on this year, but there have been several brief reprieves:  We'll have a few days of bitter cold, followed by two or three days of unseasonably warm spells.  But when Cliff called my attention to the pregnant weather lady on Fox 4 talking about the 5 degree low coming Wednesday and Thursday nights, my heart sank.  However, for all my friends who work Monday through Friday, I'm happy to say there will be highs around 50, Saturday and Sunday.

When nothing much is happening, we always talk about the weather, don't we?  

I wasted a big part of my weekend Saturday by letting the Internet mess with me.  As you may remember, I'm taking part in a creative writing class online, courtesy of my public library.  I'd been awaiting a grade on the last test I turned in, but Saturday morning, I couldn't log into either the library or the classes.  I rebooted.  I fumed.  I tried using a different browser.  I worried.  I even got on Cliff's PC and tried, in case it was a Mac problem.  This went on for at least three hours, time I'll never get back, simply because of my obsessing over something I couldn't change.  The computer was fine:  I could do anything on the Internet I wanted, but I couldn't get to my class!  Later, as he headed toward the recumbent bike, Cliff picked up the old iPad he uses as a reader and his book was gone.  Dear Lord, how can we live without our books?  HELP!!!  

Nothing I did to either the computer or the iPad helped.  Obviously then, it was a problem with the library website. And I saw, somewhere through all the punching buttons and spelling out passwords. a suggestion that I should call the library, so I did.  I explained my problems to a lady.  She tried logging in to the library herself, and succeeded.  I hung up, tried the things she had suggested (like re-booting, which I'd already done), and still nothing worked.  I fiddled with the stupid computer some more and finally told Cliff, "You need to take me to the library at Buckner; I want to show somebody exactly what's happening."

"If we're going to Buckner anyway," he said, looking at the clock, "we may as well go ahead and have our Valentine dinner at Toscono's.  It'll be noon when we're there anyway." 

Fine by me.  The place is becoming so popular as they expand, on Valentine's Day they'll likely be overflowing with customers (a waitress later confirmed that to be true).  They've added a bar, and I've heard they are going to have a bakery next door.  

But first, the library.  I gave the lady my password; she found she couldn't access the library on the iPad either, nor could she check into the site where I take my classes; she was familiar with the site because she's taken some of their classes too.  Finally she told me the problem must be with Overdrive, which is the supplier of the app we use to check out our books, and on which we read.  She sent an email to Overdrive, assuring me they are very good at getting back with answers, and we went to Tuscono's.  It was great food, and plenty of it.  As usual.

Sunday morning we had our books again, and I was able to access my classes.  My first thought was that if I'd just let my computer problems alone and done something else, Saturday would probably have been a perfect day.  Why do I obsess on such things and let them ruin my day?  

I just finished a book I really enjoyed, The Nickel Boys.  It's depressing, and yet a very good read. It's based on some things that really happened in a boy's home in Florida years ago.  When I finished it, one of the books I had on hold showed up on my Libby shelf:  This Tender Land.  I started it this morning.  The first line drew me in; I'm going to like this one.  However, from what I've seen, it's about orphans who get treated about as badly as the children in The Nickel Boys.  I read another book by the same author, Kent Krueger, that I really enjoyed:  Ordinary Grace.  I believe This Tender Land  will be it's equal.  I'll share the first paragraph:
"In the beginning, after He labored over the heavens and the earth, the light and the dark, the land and the sea and all living things that dwell therein, after He created man and woman and before He rested, I believe God gave us one final gift.  Lest we forget the divine source of all that beauty, He gave us stories."

What a way to begin a story!

Have a peaceful day, and take good care of yourself.  Enjoy a good book, have a snack, and wait for spring, when all things become new.


Friday, February 07, 2020

A voice that wiped out my anger

Last year, our AARP Medicare had a plan that included free over-the-counter drugs we could order online.  This included things like aspirin, Tylenol, cold and allergy pills, vitamins, wipes, and other things old people need.  Any time I hear the word "free", I listen up, sign up, and rejoice.  When I got our new medicare plan for 2020, I was happy to see they were still offering that perk, but on New Years Day, I couldn't sign into the website I used last year to order.  I called AARP Medicare customer service and learned they were using a different company to take care of that part of the plan this year.  I was given the phone number that goes directly to that company.  The person who answered that number had a heavy accent, I thought Mexican.  They had gotten a little behind, and it would be January 20, I was told, before I would receive my card and catalogue.  

Nothing came, however.  I made calls, sometimes as many as four a day, trying to get answers and, hopefully, someone I could understand.  I mentioned this to my oldest grandson's wife, and she said, "Oh, you can ask them to speak to someone with no accent.  It's the law, they have to transfer you if you ask."  

The last call I made to them in mid-January, the lady had promised I'd get my stuff from them after February 1.  Today I called them for the first time in three weeks.  What I do is call the AARP Medicare line, talk to someone who speaks clearly, and then get transferred to the OTC people,  many of whom I can barely understand.  Today, though, after they transferred me, I remembered what Heather told me:  If you can't understand them, tell them you want to speak with someone who has no accent.  I was braced and ready for the runaround I've been getting that ends with nothing to show, except my anger.

I had to ask the lady twice, but finally she transferred me:  The person on the other line this time spoke slowly and clearly in a barely discernible southern accent.  She sounded like somebody's grandmother.  Clearly, she told me it was a huge problem for thousands of people; her guess is that this is a new company, and apparently they had no idea at what they were getting into.  The situation is improving.  Some people are actually getting their cards and catalogues now.  Oh, and the people dealing with their customer service are in the Philippines   On and on she talked, and as she did, her voice was oil on the troubled waters of my past experiences.

But that wasn't all:  She told me about another service they offer at no cost:  one of those "I've-fallen-and-I-can't-get-up" buttons; I can choose as either a bracelet or a necklace.  What's this?  Free? I'd never thought about this before, but at that moment I really needed one of those, and now that I think of it, so does Cliff.  Mine will be here in a couple of weeks, since the most popular model is the one with GPS and it's on back order.  I'll order his later.

So I didn't get the results I'd hoped for with the OTC meds.  But a lady with a sweet-sounding voice talked me through my anger and gave me free stuff afterward. 

My day was transformed by a voice and a freebie.  

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Assignment 7: Write about a hobby


When my husband and I bought a little cottage on twenty acres and moved in with our baby son, my parents thought we needed a milk cow and offered us one of theirs; my husband thought it was a great idea.  I told him, "I don't know how to milk a cow.  I tried a few times at Grandma’s when I was a kid, but I can't make the milk come out.”

"I'll milk her," he replied.  So we brought Suzy home.  As it turns out, my husband couldn't milk very well either:  It took him 45 minutes every time he went out to milk:  morning and evening, before and after work, it had to be done.  He hated the chore.  I didn’t have a job outside the home, so I reluctantly volunteered to try and learn to milk that cow.  After a week or two of practice, I was getting the bucket filled within ten minutes; once the muscles in my hands and arms stopped aching, I realized I relished the task, and I loved that cow.

Suzy was some sort of cross-bred animal, perhaps a mix of Guernsey and Jersey.  She was large, but very tame, and stood quietly while I squeezed milk from her swollen udder.  She had horns; I could loop a rope around her horns and lead her anywhere.  She gave what seemed to me an incredible amount of milk, about two gallons morning and evening at the start. Our family consisted of two adults and a baby; what would we do with all that milk?

It turns out pigs like milk, so we would buy baby pigs and raise them with the excess milk.  Later we bought three-day-old Holstein calves to bottle-feed.  Each calf got a half-gallon of milk, twice a day.  I loved everything about cows!  After I found ways to use the milk, we bought another cow, although Suzy was always my favorite back then.  Whenever I found an attentive ear, I talked about my cows.

Perhaps two years after we bought our first milk cow, we were walking through the dairy barns at the Missouri State Fair and I saw my first Jersey cows:  They were fine-boned and, compared to other cattle, very small.  They had big eyes and long eyelashes and huge, perfect udders, and I loved them at first sight.  I had to have one, even though there was no practical reason for us to buy another cow.  And I wanted a registered one, just so I'd know for sure it was 100% Jersey.  Through the years, we have had several Jersey cows in our pastures.

From that long-ago day at the fair until now, I have never lost my love for cows in general, and Jersey cows in particular.  I’ve had as many as five at a time, sometimes bottle-feeding ten baby calves daily, just so I could follow my passion.  There's something magical that happens when a human and an animal get together and work as a team to accomplish a task, and though I always had too much milk around, I felt great pride when a tiny Jersey cow gave me enough milk to fill a bucket.

Oh, and the excitement of watching a cow give birth to a calf weighing only 45 pounds!  Such a thrill to check out the sex of a wet, newborn calf and realize it's a heifer!  Next to the birth of my own children, I know of no greater feeling.

About the time I reached seventy years of age, it became clear I wasn't up to the task of squatting next to a cow for ten minutes at a time, or chasing through the woods looking for a cow in heat who had gotten out of the ancient fencing around our pasture in search of romance. I figured out that the latter part of life consists of giving up things, one item at a time, and I accepted that fact.  But I still smile when, as we are driving down a country road, I look out my window on the passenger side and see a herd of classy little Jerseys, some grazing, others lying in the shade chewing their cuds with brown eyes half-closed.  And I realize that although my own cows are gone, the passion is still with me.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Finding my own voice

The current lesson in my creative writing class is "finding your own voice".  The preceding lesson was "on the shoulders of giants", which encouraged the student to type or write a paragraph from a favorite author, followed by a paragraph of her own writing in the style of that author.  I didn't think I did well on it for the simple reason I felt I hadn't followed the other writer's style closely enough; however, I got 24 out of 25 points.

Now I'm going to write in my own style, which my regular readers are probably used to, since that's how I write on this blog.  This is not an assignment to turn in for grading; it's just an exercise; and since I'm trying to blog more often, this will kill two birds with one stone.


I was seven or eight years old when I became feverish and nauseous, complaining of a pain in my stomach.  Mama put a sheet and blanket on the couch (or davenport, as she called it) so she wouldn't have to climb the stairs of our old two-story house to check on me.  She worried, hovering over me, quizzing me about the stomach pain:  Had I fallen against the armrest of the sofa?  She remembered seeing me standing on the sofa the day before.  I didn't remember doing anything that would have caused that pain and wished she'd just leave me alone.

I went upstairs to bed that evening; next morning Mama came up to see if I was any better.  I wasn't.  She went downstairs and brought back a red-rimmed white enamel wash basin full of warm water, a wash cloth, and a bar of soap.  We had never had indoor plumbing, but then very few of our friends did, either: water from our well was brought into the house in a bucket, and if you wanted hot water, you heated it up in the teakettle.  My mom gave me a sponge bath, and I swear I can still feel the comforting feel of the warm, soapy cloth.  When I was clean and dressed in a starched cotton dress, Mother took me to Dr. Croxdale's office in Villisca, Iowa. Daddy stayed home to tend the switchboard in the living room.  It provided our family income.  Somebody always had to be there, because without the switchboard, people in our area couldn't call anyone on the phone except for people on their own party line.  

I don't remember much about what took place at the doctor's office; my next memory is me, laying in a hospital bed in a room with about six other patients, all adults, one of whom was dying.  

I was still vomiting.  Nurses came and put an IV needle in a vein in my leg, and there it stayed for a few days.  My mom said I was vomiting blood, but I remember one of the nurses saying in a rather catty way that it wasn't blood.  I began receiving pretty get-well cards; sick as I was, I looked at all of them, many of which had a brand new child's handkerchief folded inside.  I recall at meal times someone would bring me a tray holding tea in a little brown pot that held two cups of liquid, or sometimes broth to drink, but I believe that was after I finally stopped vomiting.  I must have been getting better, because I remember the sweet, hot tea and the warm beef broth tasted wonderful.  Uncle Leo brought Grandma Stevens to see me once, which was a treat.  It was strange to see my non-driving grandma in such totally different surroundings.  People from church sent me Little Golden Books.  One favorite were Cookie, about a dog who loved cookies; I especially liked it because my own  dog was named Cookie.  Another book I enjoyed was about kids going to the county fair; I don't recall the title on the cover, but I still remember the first line in the book:  "I went to the fair, oh, the grand county fair... with so much to do and such fun everywhere..."

On one of my last days hospitalized, Mother brought Daddy and left him with me for a few hours.  He went out to smoke; while he was gone, the IV needle somehow came out of my leg.  I didn't know what to do, but I didn't call for anyone; I just laid there hoping Daddy would hurry up and come back.  A nurse came by and took the IV, stand, and needle away, which didn't hurt my feelings a bit.  

I believe it was the next day I went home.  A week after my homecoming, we went to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.  My parents acted like I was fragile and wouldn't let me run, jump, or skip; but what a grand fair it was, and was I ever primed for it after reading about the "Grand County Fair" so many times for several days.

We never knew what ailed me, even after eight days in the hospital.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Horton Hears a Who

I had another topic for this blog entry, but then my mind began wandering toward a rabbit-hole and I fell in.  That is a normal occurrence for me.  

It all began when I realized it's Saturday; since Cliff retired, I have little reason to keep track of what day it is.  Now that I'm going to church on Sundays, though, I have a marker that helps keep me aware of the passage of days.  So I went from "OK, it's Saturday, February the first" to "tomorrow's church day".  I hoped between the two churches, they'd be singing some of my favorite hymns; the first thing I do when I get to either church service is to scan the bulletin to see what hymns we'll be singing; then I look at what the sermon topic is going to be.

I already know what the Methodist preacher will be using as a topic, because it's a series based on Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss.  He preached the first in the series last Sunday, and yes, it made a good sermon indeed, even though Dr. Seuss was an atheist.  The pastor suggested all of us who weren't familiar with the book get hold of a copy and read it; when that came to mind this morning, I realized the iPad was beside me, so that allows me to access the library using the Libby app and check out any book I want.  I think the only two Dr. Seuss books my kids had were Green Eggs and Ham and Hand Hand Fingers Thumb (or as Cliff and I called it, "Dum Ditty Dum"), so I wasn't familiar with this one.  I had thirty minutes before time for Cliff to get up:  it's a kid's book, how long could it possibly take to read it?

(By the way, have I ever mentioned both my preachers, the Methodist and the Baptist, are named David?  But I digress.)

Well, the book was longer than some, but I managed to wake Cliff up at the right time.  However, as soon as I began reading the book, I saw a subtle message therein, one I'm sure the preacher didn't have in mind.  Spoiler alert!  If you don't want to know how the book ends, stop reading this paragraph.  I always wanted to use that phrase.  Ha!  The story goes like this:  An elephant began hearing tiny voices in the forest because his ears were so big he had super-hearing.  His friends couldn't hear a thing, decided Horton was crazy, and set out to convince him he was wrong.  In the end, Horton manages to get the tiny "Whos" to make enough racket for others to hear so they'd be convinced, and they all lived happily ever after.  

But I hadn't reading long before I got to the line, "A person's a person, no matter how small."

Judging from last week's sermon, the preacher is using the story to illustrate the Bible principle that every person is important in God's sight, but as I read page after page, what I saw was this:  Don't kill babies.

I am no longer a member of a political party.  I sometimes call myself a Libertarian, but even several points of their agenda doesn't suit me.  The other two parties seem to be nothing but machines that work to keep money flowing from one crook to another, letting big business bribe them so they'll support certain bills and causes.  Still, I'd probably vote for some of the more liberal front-runners except for one thing:  Abortion.    

There was a time I struggled with the abortion issue, but in the end I was unable to believe the claim that a fetus is not a baby.  It just doesn't make sense to me; it's no different than saying, "Your child is an infant, not a baby",  or "That kid is a toddler, not a baby" .  At what point does the fetus magically transform into a human?  There have been premature babies who lived after being born less than six months in the womb, so I guess we know they turn into a human before that.  Am I the only one who sees how ridiculous that is?  Killing a tiny human devalues the lives of all people.  

I am a spirit.  I have a soul.  I live in a body.  And so does that tiny speck that is growing so strong and lively, desparately wanting to make a mark on the world.

The Bible tells us God knew each of us before we were born,  Even if I were an atheist, though, I could never convince myself it's right to murder a human being. 

A person's a person, no matter how small.