Friday, January 29, 2021

Deciphering a recipe

This particular recipe journey had an interesting start:  Cliff and I were going on a road trip, so I checked out the audiobook version of a book entitled "The Best Cook in the World", read by the author.  Rick Bragg.  It's really a book about his southern heritage, about relatives long gone; but it's also a tribute to his mother.  Each chapter has, as its subject, a recipe or two.  Since Rick's mother never used a recipe, she and her son tried to come up with proper amounts and such, but the book isn't really a recipe book.  It's delightful reading.  Just don't read it hungry, because when Rick and his mother start describing things they've cooked, you are going to be hungry anyway.  The book makes everything sound delicious.  However, the one thing I knew I had to eventually try was the recipe for butter rolls.

The book starts in 1924:  a young boy just got married, and his wife cannot cook anything very well.  The boy gets on his mule and goes for a long ride into the wilderness to find his father, a hermit known as Jimmy-Jim, who knows how to cook.  This same Jimmy Jim is the author's great-grandfather.  The boy found his dad in a clearing, in a tumble-down shack.  The boy said to his dad, "You have to come with me, 'cause I married a pretty and hardheaded woman who can't cook a lick."

So the man cooked up a storm when they got back to the newly-wed couple's place.  One of the things that I knew I had to taste was what Rick Bragg's mother called simply "butter biscuits".  They deserve a much better sticky-gooey name than that, believe me.  

There are two versions of the recipe in the book, one for from-scratch biscuits and one for canned biscuits.  Rick's mom is ashamed to say she ever buys canned biscuits, and this is the only way she uses them.  The first time I tried making this stuff, I ended up with a mess in my oven.  

Why?  Because of the way the author wrote it down:

Notice in the last paragraph, where is says "then fill the empty can with whole milk and add that to the bowl"?  So, that would be one empty sweetened-condensed-milk can full of whole milk, right?  Unfortunately, I used the size pan Rick's mom suggested, and that sticky mess boiled over on the bottom of my oven.  

Later on, when he puts a genuine recipe in the chapter, it's not a whole can at all; it's 1/2 cup of whole milk.

When I finally tried the recipe again, I knew what to do differently.  By the way, I used canned biscuits the second time, to make it easier.

It definitely isn't something you'd make often, and if you don't like terribly sweet things for breakfast, it isn't for you.  Cliff and I both approve the recipe, but it will be a rare treat.

With the new stove I got recently, I have been baking up a storm.  I finally got on the scale last weekend and saw I've gained five pounds.  This is typical of me in winter, but it's the sort of thing that I cannot ignore.  If I keep eating all those cookies, pies, and other treats, I'll be too big to squeeze out the door.  Something has to give.

Enjoy your day!  I hope the sun is shining on you, like it is on me.  My mood elevates considerably when the sun shines, even if I'm in the house looking out at it.  And did you see the full moon?  It was big and beautiful at 4 AM.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A song written for a crowd of three (including myself)

It isn't a very good song, but the story around it may be of interest.  Sometime around the year 2000, I was using AOL for my Internet.  AOL had chat rooms, most of them totally useless due to the spam that took over the actual conversations.  However, on a Christianity Today website on AOL, there were some Christian chat rooms.  They weren't bothered by spam, I think because you could only get to those chat rooms by going through the Christianity Today website.  One of the rooms was for senior citizens.  I wasn't 60 yet, but I was very comfortable with the group I found there, and over the years I've met many of those people face to face.  

We had several "chat room reunions" around the country; the first one I attended was in Dallas, Texas.  Cliff drove down there with me to make sure I didn't get killed.  He'd heard and read about bad things that happened to people who frequented chat rooms, especially women.  

He found the reunion pretty boring, like going to a stranger's family reunion, and after meeting that mild-mannered group, he worried no more.  I flew to most of the reunions I attended after that. However, one time a friend named Lona decided to drive to Charlotte, North Carolina, and invited me to ride with her.  I rode a bus down to Bella Vista, Arkansas, where she lived, and she picked me up at the bus stop.  In Nashville, we gained another hitchhiker, Virginia Farless.

Virgina Farless was the mother of Chonda Pierce, who is a Christian Comedian; maybe some of my readers have seen her on Youtube or heard of her.  Jen was very proud of her semi-famous daughter.   I really liked Jen.  She was one of the few people I actually enjoyed talking to on the phone.  She often called me "honey" in that way southern women say it.  Mostly, though, she just called me "Mosie".  Another long, boring story.  I never had nicknames until I found that chat room, then I had two or three of them.  

We had a good time at the get-together, met old friends and made new ones.  Too soon, it was time to go home.  I think Lona was around 70 at the time, and she was facing the long drive home to Arkansas.  As we neared Nashville, Virginia (I called her Jen; her chat room name was JenFar) began trying to get hold of her husband Sammy so he could pick her up somewhere not too far off the freeway.  Sammy didn't answer the phone, but Jen kept trying... and when we got to the exit where we would have left her with her husband, Lona kept driving.  I thought, "Now what is Jen going to do?  How is she going to get home?"  Still no answer from her husband.

Then Jen tried calling Chonda, who didn't answer her phone... this was about 18 years ago, so I don't recall a lot of details... but Lona kept driving and Jen kept trying to get someone to pick her up as we put more distance between Jen and her home.  Reluctantly, she called her son-in-law, David, as a last resort.  He answered the phone and agreed to to come pick Jen up.  I would have thought Lona would have offered to simply take Jen home, but I think she was not enjoying the long drive home:  It's all fun and games when you're heading to a party, but when the party's over, you just want to get home with no delays.  

So David, Jen's son-in-law, agreed to pick Jen up, but it was going to be awhile.  We went into a motel and waited in the lobby for David.  Jen said we weren't far from the prison where she had worked as a nurse for a while, and we small-talked, passing the time the best we could.  Jen had her luggage at her feet so she'd be ready if David ever showed up, and she also had with her a foot spa she somehow won at the chat reunion.  Yes, a foot spa.  I don't think she particularly wanted it, but what are you going to do with a gift you'd rather not have when you are 600 miles from home?  

Jen's book ("box of books" mentioned in the song)

So, things were a bit tense, we all wanted to be home, and we didn't know how long we'd be sitting in this motel lobby.  I could tell Jen was feeling about as low as a person could get, and Lona wasn't saying much, so I got a pen and paper and figured I'd write a silly song about our predicament... from Jen's point of view.  The tune isn't anything special, and the lyrics are silly.  It's an accident that I still have the words to it.  But for a brief moment it lightened the hearts of my two companions and eased some strained emotions.  It made us laugh.  Every time I come across these lyrics, I just smile at the memories held therein of two friends who have since traveled into the great beyond.  I miss them both a lot.

                                                       ON THE WEST SIDE OF NASHVILLE

On the west side of Nashville with my foot spa and my suitcase,

Abandoned by my friends and all alone,

My daughter’s awful busy and my son is somewhere preaching

And my husband isn’t answering his phone.

I reckon I could hitchhike, but that seems a little risky

For a woman who’s not frisky any more,

On the west side of Nashville, I sure do feel forsaken

Just sitting here and staring out the door.


     On the west side of Nashville at a motel,

     Trying to get my husband on the phone…

     Does David really, truly WANT to find me?

     I wonder how I ever will get home.

I’m just up the road at that old prison that i worked in

Till I retired just six years ago.

I wonder if they’d board me if I need a bed to sleep in,

Just in case my son-in-law don’t show.

I didn’t sleep last night, and oh, my hair is dreadful messy,

And I really am not feeling very well.

But if I’m needing money (though perhaps this may sound funny)

I’ve got a box of books that I can sell.

     On the west side of Nashville at a motel,

     Trying to get my husband on the phone…

     Does David really, truly WANT to find me?

     I don't think I ever will get home.

I'm not going to waste time singing it for you.  I've written many songs just for a particular person, or group of people.  Most of them were only sung on one occasion, then forgotten.  I wonder if all the people I wrote songs for remember them now, or if they even remember me.  


Me and Lona

Me and Jen

Monday, January 25, 2021

I always hated football

In 1975, we spent nine months living near Coffee, Missouri, trying to decide if we could become real farmers.  It didn't take long to figure out we were not cut out for that kind of grief, with the uncertain income making one go deeper into debt hoping for a better year.  We moved to Wellington, settled back into God's Country, and raised our kids.

But there was one lasting change made while we lived at Coffee:  Cliff, who had never cared about any professional sport, learned to love football.  Only one channel came in clearly, but Cliff, missing our friends 100 miles away and being able to find so little on television, decided he was going to start watching Monday Night Football and see what it was all about.  I had no desire to join him in this pursuit.  About the only thing I figured out during that time was that I hated Howard Cossell, with his know-it-all voice.  One time I went through the living room during a game, heard him talking as usual, and said, "Why don't you shut up, you can of crap!"  

Cliff thought that was hilarious.

I have dreaded football season ever since.  My husband looks forward to it, and I have not tried to rain on his parade.  I learned to find a good book and put on headphones playing classical music to cover the sound of the TV.  That way I could concentrate on my reading and we were both happy.  I did take enough interest in the Kansas  City Chiefs to ask sometimes if they were winning; they seldom were, but I did care whether they won or lost.  

In 2017 Patrick Mahomes showed up.  I took no notice of his arrival, because football was boring.  But in 2019, I couldn't help but notice what was happening on the screen, and decided to figure out how football works.  I still have a lot to learn, but I have watched every Chief's game for two seasons.  I love the personalities!  They make me laugh all the time.  Kelce's dances, all the little show-off moves the guys do when they do something special, Tyreek Hill's 22-miles-per-hour speed, and Patrick Mahomes' grace and genius (although I always fear he'll break something... he seems a little frail).

Cliff loves having someone beside him who enjoys football.  I had hoped my interest would make all football interesting for me, but alas, I just don't care who wins if the Chiefs aren't playing.  But I will tell you that some of the brightest spots during the pandemic, and some of the greatest joys ever, have happened when I was watching our Chiefs do their thing.

It was Patrick Mahomes who drew me in.  

But Andy Reid makes it work.

I love my Chiefs!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

It's a new day

It was 32 degrees when I got out of bed this morning.  The weather guys and gals are saying this is going to be our nicest day for awhile, so we'll try to enjoy it.  Cliff has been spending quite a bit of time in the shop, cleaning up and straightening stuff and doing a little cleanup on both of his John Deeres.  I kid you not, my husband is seriously thinking of selling the tractor he just got (at a profit) and looking for something else.  "The thrill is in the hunt," he tells me.  Whatever.  I'm done getting attached to any silly old tractors, because he sells them right out from under me.

The cat is sleeping in his cat tree and Gabe is wired, trying to get me outside.  I do need to go to the chicken house and give them their slop (mostly burned toast and sour milk).  They will be very happy to see they have something they like today.  However, I'm bound and determined to write a few sentences of gibberish, just so I can say I did a blog entry.  (After typing these words, I realized Gabe was NEEDING to go out, so I burned the trash, fed the chickens, and took care of Gabe's needs too.)  

Oh, here's something:  a picture of a little girl we used to babysit.  She's 8 years old now, but we remember her when.  I had baked a cake and let her lick the pan; yes, I know you shouldn't give kids anything with raw flower and raw eggs in it, but her parents were fine with anything we did with that child, and she survived our care, although she may have come out of it a little spoiled.  It's a wonder we didn't scar her for life.  She was the first baby we'd had in our care for many years, and we might have forgotten a few things we learned when our own children were that young.

  I still remember how much fun I had "licking the bowl" for my mom when she made cookies, cakes, or icing.  I remember watching her in the kitchen as she worked her magic with pies and cakes, although she never enlisted my help much until we moved to the city.  Considering she and my dad were responsible for connecting people on the switchboard so they could have conversations throughout the daylight hours, she never knew when she'd have to run to the switchboard.  Daddy often handled the switchboard at times when Mother was canning and cooking meals, although some people (of the female gender) preferred a woman taking care of their calls and grumbled a little when a man became "Central".  

Daddy made the garden and tended it, and Mother canned the produce he raised.  My dad also got kernels off ears of popcorn, shelled peas, and broke green beans on long summer evenings.  When there were high winds from a storm, sometimes telephone lines would get "crossed" and daddy would have to go out with a pole to uncross the wires; otherwise, people would hear folks talking on somebody else's line and couldn't hear their own calls.  I often rode along with him to uncross lines; Mother did all the driving when we all went someplace; Daddy hated to drive, so it seemed strange when it was just me and him in the car.  If my memory isn't tricking me, I believe I felt a little nervous with my dad at the wheel.  

When we lived in Eagleville, 1953 to 1956, I think it was, Daddy spent considerable time across the road gabbing with the guys at a filling station.  He still smoked during most of our time in north Missouri; he rolled his own cigarettes, and often lit one cigarette off the last one he was smoking.  He was a certified chain smoker, for sure.  As a kid, laying in my bed upstairs, I would hear Daddy coughing for quite awhile after he went to bed, every single night.  I didn't think anything about it at the time, but looking back, I'm amazed that he was able to finally quit smoking.  My parents listened to some radio programs in the evenings... we didn't have a television until 1956, after we moved to Kansas City... and one of the sponsors was peddling pills that would supposedly help a person stop smoking.  Mother sent off for a package of the pills, but when they arrived, Daddy was mad that she bought them and told her, "If I'm going to quit smoking, I'll do it without the pills."  And he did, but life was pretty hard for awhile.  Man, was he ever a grouch!  He chewed gum and sucked on hard candy and ate so much, he gained 20 pounds or more.  He did die of lung cancer eventually, but he was in his 70's when that happened.   

What I liked about my dad spending time at the station was that he carried change in his pockets.  If I ask Mother for a nickel or dime for candy or pop, I didn't always get it.  But if I walked to the other side of 69 highway to the station and asked my dad, in front of two or three other men, for a nickel, dime, or even a quarter, I was almost sure to be rewarded.    

As you can see, once I get lost in my memories, I can usually come up with something for a blog entry.

Yours truly,


I came to my she-room to finish this blog entry.  Here you see my two inspirational boys who didn't want me to be alone:  One is quite happy to rest in my presence; the other one just wants somebody to go outside with him, sooner rather than later.  Never mind the clutter you see around them, tattered old hymnbooks and a book about meditation that I may never get back to... but I might.  And there's my guitar, just waiting for me to get creative.   Oh, the possibilities!    


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

It's 60 days until spring

Sunday we watched our Kansas City Chiefs pull another miracle out of their magic hat.  What moments of pure joy they've given their fans during this pandemic we're going through.  You know they have to be good if they were able to convert a football-hater like me into a true believer!  

Every year around August I'd start dreading football season:  My defense against boredom during those difficult times was to put headphones on, play classical music to cover up the sounds of football, and read a book.  Now, I count the minutes until the next Chiefs game.  I've really been hoping I could transfer that feeling over to all football games, but I just can't care about the outcome of a game if the Chiefs aren't in it.  Who knows, that may still happen; I'm still just learning how the basic game works.

January and February are my least favorite months, and January will be gone before we know it.  I try not to wish my life away, but I just don't deal well with winter any more.  It's hard to believe I was milking cows twice a day for much of my life and loving it.

You know what?  I'm trying to do a blog entry here, and I have nothing.  NOTHING!  

I am in a low spot right now, partly because of the election:  Trump was ruining our country, and I did want him gone.  Unfortunately, that left me voting for Biden, a man I neither admire or trust, but I don't see how things could be any worse than they have been the last four years.  It sure leaves a bad taste in my mouth, though.  

I'm having bad feelings about tomorrows events, and that's unsettling.  I just feel like something is going to happen somewhere in the world.  Maybe when tomorrow is behind me, I'll get my mind back on finding a topic for my blog each day.

Until then,


Saturday, January 16, 2021

Somewhat disgruntled

Every once in awhile, I get a little depressed with the world situation.  OK, make that VERY depressed, at least lately.  I've stopped watching most news on television, except occasionally Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News.  He doesn't talk in such an angry voice as CNN and Fox newspeople do.  But I'm using BBC news on the computer.  My son told me one time that was the source he preferred, and I do find it more palatable.  For one thing, they are busy watching the royal family. That should keep them pretty busy, if they like soap operas.  

Granddaughter Amber and her mom gifted me with a "cat tree" for Blue; their cats don't like it.  Blue lays in it some days; other times, not so much.  If he gets so he doesn't use it at all, I'll pass it on to someone else.  He's been all over the thing, but he still prefers Gabe's daytime bed, right beside my chair.  I've been pestering him to get him out and go to his tree (I've been using a spiral notebook to pet him and he gets tired of that pretty quickly.  When I finally got him out of Gabe's bed, he went over to Gabe's chair and seems to be thinking about taking a nap  ON the dog.

I keep saying I'm going to get rid of this ratty old recliner, but then where would Gabe sleep?

All the cat tree pictures were taken yesterday.  Blue isn't interested today.  He's still napping with Gabe.

Gabe has had some stomach issues yesterday.  Night before last he woke me up at midnight, very desperate to relieve himself.  I only gave him some plain cooked rice for breakfast.  I think it helped his problem.  At least he didn't have to wake me up last night.  This morning I gave him his usual dog food.  

As for myself, I have a UTI.  The nurse-practicioner prescribed an antibiotic, but they also sent the sample away to a lab.  Now they say the prescription they first gave me isn't potent enough to kill this particular kind of UTI, so a nurse called and told me to go pick up a different prescription.  When I read some of the side effects on the new stuff (ciprofloxacin tablets), it made me wonder if I'd live through the cure!  I realize all the paperwork they staple onto your bag of drugs is scary, but this one puts the others to shame  I've taken two pills so far, one yesterday and one today:  So far my tendons haven't broken (how does a tendon break?) and I haven't felt suicidal, nor have I had nerve problems in my hands, feet and legs.  But it says these can happen all at once!  And I can't forget the dizziness, according to the paperwork.  And it may affect other drugs I take.  

Ain't life grand?  

Yours truly,
The disgruntled blogger

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Ree Drummond

Almost everyone in the country knows who the Pioneer Woman is:  She has a television show on Food Network and has a recipe book published every once in awhile.  If you know nothing else about her, you've at least seen her brand of dishes, plates, and pots and pans at Walmart.

Years ago some online group decided to have people vote for the best blog in various categories.  Her blog, "Confessions of a Pioneer Woman" won the "Best Kept Secret" award in 2007, and that is how I found her blog.  I was hooked from the very first time I surfed my way to her stories.  Sometimes I'd do a search of her blog trying to find a particularly funny story I remembered reading earlier.  I read many of them to Cliff, and he'd laugh along with me.  Her blog was always G-rated, although she had fun with focusing on her hatred of the word "panties" once.  She put a recorded sound-bite  of her youngest child, perhaps three years old at the time, saying "juice-bag"; but it sounded like he was saying "douche-bag".  Just silly little things, really, but she was funny.  There were delightful tales about her relationship with her "retarded brother" (her words).  The stories about him were among the best.  He liked to hang out at the fire station, and those men took good care of him.  For awhile he was getting drunk fairly often, but Ree told him she'd pay him a small amount each week... $5, I think... for not drinking.  Then he gladly stopped.

She and I emailed one another a handful of times, I guess because I shared the link to her blog on my blog; but  her readership was growing fast.  When she was publishing her first cookbook, she emailed me asking for my address.  Before long, I received a box containing five of those books.  I gave one to my daughter and one to my daughter-in-law.  Then I had a giveaway on my blog, and of course, I kept one that she autographed especially for me.  She gave me signed copies of her first three books, and by then she was on her new career in television.  

As she became more popular, some women started "I hate Pioneer Woman" blogs; they're still there if you want to do a search.  They didn't like her recipes, they thought she looked horrible, she didn't dress to suit them; and oh, yeah... she was a millionaire, because the Drummond Ranch is a huge corporation.  Did I mention that the nay-sayers said her kids were ugly?  I'm surprised they didn't call her the antichrist.  I think they are just jealous that she had a wealthy doctor for a dad, then had the nerve to marry a millionaire.  I love the woman, and always will.  I don't like cooking shows, so I don't watch her on television.  Her blog isn't fun any more, so I don't read it.  But I love the person that she is.

When Ree got the TV show, and sold her name to various companies, she became a product, and anything she might have said in the past could be brought up; then Food Network would look bad.  After she got so famous, I went one day to her blog to search for a particularly funny story about her brother, but it wasn't there.  So many of her funniest blog posts disappeared.  I do understand why sponsors would want the word "retarded" taken out; it's politically incorrect.  But so many of the hilarious stories are gone, or have been changed.

A couple weeks ago I used the Libby app on the iPad to "go" to the library from my easy chair and find a book to read.  I was surprised to see a new book by Ree Drummond, "Frontier Follies: Adventures in Marriage and Motherhood in the Middle of Nowhere".  I wondered if the stories in the book were anything like her blog used to be, and put it on the "hold" list.

Hallelujah!  Some of those familiar, treasured stories are there, and the Pioneer Woman is funny again. This is a book I might actually buy just for the memories.  I'm only 14% through the book (it will be a quick, easy read) but I know she won't be using the "r" word.  That's OK, and it's no doubt for the best; but there are so many other wonderful stories that can be told.  

You'll find the book in the public library, or you can buy it on Amazon HERE,  Or wait a year and get a used one on really cheap.  I pity Kindle users, since most Kindles won't allow anyone to check out library books.  They want your money.  

I intend to have a good day, and my hope is that my readers have one too.  

Monday, January 11, 2021

We could all use a little peace in our lives right now

This morning in my daily Bible reading, I read in Matthew the story of Jesus stilling the storm.  

Matthew 8:23-27

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26  He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Wouldn't you know this short passage brought to mind a church song from my childhood? 

No matter where a person stands on politics right now, peace is hard to come by.  No matter what you believe, I hope you have a refuge from the storm that's going on in our country at present, whether it's Jesus, meditation, or a nice walk in the woods.  Build a model airplane, go fishing, make cookies: but find something to still the troubled waters flooding into all our lives.  We won't find it on the news or Facebook, that's for sure.

Today I need to call the doctor's office about a UTI.  Looks like 2021 is the gift that keeps on giving.


Sunday, January 10, 2021

Pancakes and memories

All my grandchildren are grown.  Those of them who wanted children have them.  The two who have never wanted kids have none, although my oldest granddaughter does have two Shih Tzu dogs, and loves them as though they were her babies.  She always brings her "children" along when she comes to visit; even Gabe likes the dogs, as long as he doesn't catch me petting them.  Amber and her brood came to visit yesterday, so I took a couple of pictures for my dog-loving friends.  The puppy (oh dear, I've forgotten my own grand-dog's name) was impossible to photograph, but I took a picture of Gabe and his guests that shows how tiny the new addition is.

Never mind my grandson laying on the floor trying to take a nap.  No wonder he's in the floor:  He fasts every other day.  He's lost 50 or 60 pounds on that routine, so it does work; I wouldn't be able to do it, myself.  Life is too short for that, from my perspective.  His dad, our son, has lost a lot of weight in the same manner.  But I digress.

Look closely; that's the new puppy's face sticking out of the granddaughter's coat.

Granddaughter also brought her mother along.  They were on a mission:  They wanted pancakes and even brought a pound of sausage to go with them.

Both Amber and her mother swear I make the best pancakes in the world.  One time Amber was raving about them and I said, "Pancakes are the easiest thing in the world to make.  What makes mine better?"  She and her mother, my ex-daughter-in-law, don't have an answer to that.  They just know.  I used to buy pancake mix, but these days Cliff and I don't have pancakes often, so I make them from scratch.  No matter which method I use, they always tell me mine are the best in the world.

I've gone over it in my mind, the steps in making pancakes.  If the batter is a little thicker, sometimes the minute I pour it onto the griddle, I'll quickly level it with the bottom of my spoon before it has time to start cooking, so it won't be raw in the middle.  I've seen people who take the spatula and smash the pancake after they've turned it over, but that only tells me they have no common sense and don't understand how leavening works.  Oh, and I don't flip the pancake the first time until the batter on top is nice and bubbly. 

A couple days ago, as I thought about pancakes, I realized it's no wonder I'm a pro.  I've been making them since I was about ten years old.  When I was growing up, we didn't have pancakes often, so they were a real treat for me.  I watched my mother cook all the time, but she never really encouraged me to cook much.  You know how it is with kids:  You ask them to help cook, and it takes three times as long to cook anything with them underfoot.  I remember her asking me to stir the gravy sometimes, and there was one time she declared I needed to learn to bake a cake; I don't know who gave her that idea.  She didn't own an electric mixer, and I still recall having to beat the batter 300 strokes; I had to keep switching hands to get it done, my arms got so tired.  It was a sour cream chocolate cake, made from scratch.  Unfortunately, when it was finished, we found out I'd used salt instead of sugar.  Even Mother's hens wouldn't eat it.

But pancakes?  I taught myself to make them.  I was in the third grade when we moved from Iowa to the switchboard house in Eagleville, Missouri.  I walked to school, which was maybe three or four blocks from where we lived.  Up until that time, I'd only attended a one-room schoolhouse out in the country.  

At Eagleville, there was a hot lunch if you wanted it, but I never did.  I took a sack lunch from home and ate it at my desk while the others went to the lunch room.  (I've told you I've always been weird).  Mother gave me a quarter for lunch sometimes, but I usually walked up to to a diner on 69 highway and bought a hot dog, a coke, and a Three Musketeers.  Yes, all of that for a quarter.

There came a day I realized I had time to walk home for lunch and make myself some pancakes.  I'd been reading the instructions on the box of Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix, and it seemed pretty simple to me.  The directions explained how to tell when the pancake was ready to turn, and I soon learned to fiddle with the heat until it was just right.  My mother, of course, was at home, because when you lived in the phone company's house with a switchboard in the corner of the living room, someone had to be there, every minute of every day and night.  That was how we lived until I was twelve, and modern telephone service closed the place.  But you know, when I think about making those pancakes, I don't even remember talking to my mother as I cooked, and then ate, my pancakes.  It's like she wasn't even around.

I've always sort of lived my life in my head, as though it were a story I was writing, with myself as the main character.  John Prine mentioned that sort of life in more than one of his songs.

The lonesome friends of science say
The world will end most any day
Well, if it does, then that's okay
'Cause I don't live here anyway
I live down deep inside my head
Well, long ago I made my bed
I get my mail in Tennessee
My wife, my dog, my kids and me

But enough of my memories.  Apparently the reason my pancakes are pretty decent is that I carefully followed the recipe on that Aunt Jemima box when I was ten years old.  And that's about only thing, other than Chef Boyardee box mixes, that I ever cooked until I got an apartment and lived by myself in Kansas City.

No wonder I don't care much for pancakes any more.

P.S.  As soon as Cliff wakes up, he usually proofreads any blog entry I've done  in the early morning while he's still asleep.  Today he got done reading this and said, "Now I'm hungry for pancakes."  Because it was noon yesterday when everybody was eating pancakes, he ate chili while the others ate pancakes.  I might have known that would come back to haunt me.



Friday, January 08, 2021

What a nice, normal day

Yesterday was awful: I watched more news than I normally would watch in a month.  Today is a normal, no-news day for me.  It looks like the sun might come out, but it's pretty chilly, which is alright; it's January, so it's supposed to be cold.  We are low on moisture around here and can't seem to get much of it; they do forecast rain, but we're only getting small amounts.

I don't have to slave over the stove today (ha, as if I ever "slaved" at a stove), because the grandson next door went out to eat barbecue somewhere in Kansas City and gave us the leftovers!  I have quite a few potatoes on hand, so I made potato salad to go with it.  Yesterday I made two loaves of banana bread: one with walnuts for me and Cliff, and the other without, for the grandson.  He really doesn't mind walnuts much, but he'd just as soon not have them, and nuts are expensive when I am staying away from Costco.  We might make a trip there next week though.  They say Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the best days to go.  I read that the best time of day to go is 3:30 PM, but that doesn't work for us because we'd be going home in rush-hour traffic; Cliff avoids rush hour like the plague.

I just finished a letter to my sister in Oklahoma and took it to the mailbox.  Lately when I go outside and take Gabe, I put the shock collar on him, so if he starts running off somewhere I can zap him as I holler "no".  He knows before I even put it on him that it's capable of hurting him, and at first would try to hide when he saw it in my hand.  Now he stays put, because he likes to go outside with me and has decided he'll take the risk.  I had to zap him once today, when he went running to the trash barrel first thing out the door and wouldn't stop.  After that, he obeyed any command I gave him, including "heel".  That one surprised me, because I didn't figure he would remember that command; I had decided it was hopeless for him to learn that particular command, and gave up trying.  But with the shock collar on, his memory works very well.  All I really want to do is get him so he will always listen to "no".  That could save his life sometime.  

I woke up at midnight last night and thought to myself, "Did I put the cat out before I went to bed?"  I went to all the places he likes to sleep, but didn't find him.  Then I remembered one of his favorite places to rest:  Gabe's big ole cage!  However, Gabe was in there with the door closed.  Surely they weren't in it together.

Oh yes they were!  The cat was at the back of the cage and Gabe was toward the front, laying on his heat pad.  I crawled halfway in the cage, reached over Gabe, grabbed the cat, and went and tossed him out the door.  I told Gabe, "What happens in the cage stays in the cage."

Cliff is retrofitting some three-point forks that will fit on the loader when he doesn't have the bucket on the tractor, so he's been spending lots of time in his shop. 


Thursday, January 07, 2021

What has happened to our country?

Many of us saw a day like yesterday coming, but all we could do was watch.  Now I understand how Hitler came to power; I've seen it happen.  A man who spent his time ranting on Twitter held the power to start World War III, and we stood by helplessly while those who could have stopped him did nothing. 

We watched Nero fiddle while Rome burned.

I do not believe that everyone who voted for Trump would have chosen to storm the White House yesterday.  I hope and pray most people who have put their hopes in the President all this time and voted for him a second time would not have acted in that way.  The Trump voters I know are kind people, the sort of folks who would help someone down-and-out, people who are law-abiding and love their neighbors.  My husband voted for Trump, but he was shocked and ashamed at what was happening at the White House yesterday.  He just wanted a change, someone who would listen to the common man.  Because let's face it, politicians don't see the faces of the common people very much.  They pander to those who have money and influence, those who will make deals with them that further their agenda.   Those outlaws at the White House were no doubt a fringe group.   

Like it or not, Social Media has fueled this whole thing.  

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Time goes on

I wrote someone a letter yesterday, someone I actually know; she lives about two miles away.  

The day I started attending the Methodist Church in town, I sat down in a next-to-the-back pew directly inside the door.  I don't get around much these days, but there are people in the small group of Methodists that I sort of know, so I didn't feel too much like a stranger.  In the pew directly behind me, an elderly lady sat, alone.  I'm not great at introducing myself to strangers, but it felt awkward sitting there with that same little lady behind me, not saying anything beyond "hello".  So on my third Sunday, I turned and said to her, "Since we're going to be sitting this close every Sunday, we may as well get acquainted:  I'm Donna.  What's your name?

Her name, she said, was Pat, or Patty.  From then on, in the five minutes before services began, we got to know one another a little.  She is a widow in her 90's, never had children, and used to be a school teacher.  She remembers when there were three grocery stores in our little town and every church building was full on Sundays.  Her father built some of the houses in Wellington.  Patty has a dog... or maybe she doesn't now, because the dog was very old, blind, and deaf.  One time she mentioned to me that most of her friends have died.  She still drives around town, but very slowly.  One Sunday there was light rain falling and she offered to take me to the Baptist church so I wouldn't have to walk in the rain.  I took her up on it, even though I had an umbrella with me.  I sensed she wanted to give me a ride.  

During the first Covid lock-down, I sent her my book of poems, which she enjoyed very much.  But lately, in this self-inflicted lockdown I've been on since before Thanksgiving, I have hardly given her a thought until yesterday, when it occurred to me that she would be a perfect person to write a letter to.

Why not just call her on the phone, you ask?  Because I hate talking on the phone.  I'm not good at small talk, or trying to keep a conversation going.  Besides, there's something about a letter, something tangible.  You can pick it up and read it again, or put it in your keepsakes and dig it out fifty years later, as my mother did.  You can't do that with a phone call.  I explained to Patty that I'm learning to write with my left hand and need practice every day if I'm going to get better at it.  I asked her about her dog and mentioned Gabe.  And I told her I hoped to be back at church Sunday.

It's a start.  I'm going to ask a few people around here for suggestions of people to write letters to.  I will continue to write to my sister, who has been shut in since the pandemic first reached the midwest.  She started doing her own grocery shopping at some point, but is still not going to church because nobody there is social distancing or wearing a mask.  She does see her son, grandsons, and their families occasionally, I believe, but they take precautions.  My sister is one person I do talk to on the phone occasionally, but I can still write her a letter sometimes, maybe even weekly.

Meanwhile, I await the day when the village idiot who is president exits the office and lets a regular, old-fashioned, crooked politician have the job.  I can at least hope he won't embarrass us as a country, unless he's caught sleeping through some important meeting; he looks pretty drowsy sometimes.  But hey, President Reagan took naps in public every once in awhile.

Meanwhile, I drift farther away from my Republican roots; I've said it many times:  The Republican party left me behind.  I sometimes pray that somebody younger and more capable, from either party, will be nominated next time.  I am so very tired of having to vote for the lesser of two evils.  

At my age, though, I won't be worrying about it long.  Beam me up, Scotty!

Monday, January 04, 2021

The search for a song

They tell me that when a person reaches a certain stage of dementia, he can remember his childhood very clearly, but can't tell you what happened yesterday.  

The older I get, the more I think about my childhood. So I guess I'm preparing myself for dementia.  Many of my memories are of church, since my parents went faithfully to church twice on Sunday and again on Wednesday night, not to mention the Gospel Meetings (revivals) they had about once a year.  When we lived in Iowa, I remember Mother taking me out for a spanking at church when I was very young.  I was kicking at the pew with the side of my foot and refused to stop when she told me to.  I must have been pretty small, because she picked me up and carried me out as I yelled, "I'll be good, I'll be good!"  

My favorite part of Church was the singing.  Even now, when I sit down in a pew at either of the churches I attend, you will see me pick up a bulletin and scan it to see if any of my favorite hymns are listed for that day.

The Church of Christ didn't have instruments in those days, and most congregations still don't.  A Cappella was what you got.  Everyone sang their parts.  Some congregations held singing schools that taught us how to read shaped notes, so most anyone who could carry a tune was able to sing whichever part fit their voices... soprano, alto, tenor, or bass... even if they didn't read notes any other way.  I also learned a lot about singing alto just riding in the car with my parents; Mother would help me with my part and we'd sing hymns as we traveled.

When we lived in North Missouri, the singing wasn't very impressive, because most of the congregations in small towns didn't have a lot of people attending.  But when we had our first-Sunday singings, people who loved to sing would gather from several congregations.  That was when I really learned to appreciate A Cappella singing.  We sounded amazing, I thought, and I sang at the top of my lungs.  The Mormon Tabernacle Choir had nothing on us!  I'd never heard of them at the time, but if I had, I would have thought we were just as talented as they were.

A few days ago in my daily Bible reading I was reading the Psalm for that day, Psalm 148, which begins like this:

148 Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights.Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light.Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.

It reminded me of a song we used to sing at church that surely must have been based on this Psalm, a song I had not heard since the fifties, I'm sure.  I've attended several different denominational churches throughout my life, but I'm positive none of them sang that song.  I felt compelled to hear it.  It used to be so much fun to hear, and sing, the different parts!  I looked on Youtube and found a lot of videos with the right words, but the wrong melody.  I needed to hear just like I remembered.  I scrolled down, down, down. 

 The very last video was the version I was looking for.

I would rather have heard a congregation singing it, but this was the next-best thing, since the male harmonies, at least, were on the tape or CD the man was singing with.  I left him a comment on the video to thank him.

Trust me, it sounds better with some women singing soprano or alto.  But this video made my day anyhow.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Maybe some readers can help me out on a project

When I get up in the morning, usually at three or four o'clock, there are several things I do, not in any certain order.  My first priority used to be coffee.  My stomach started giving me a fit a year or so ago, so I quit drinking the stuff.  I'm still taking one omeprazole daily, so the first thing out of bed I take that.  After the pill, I'm supposed to wait 20 to 30 minutes and eat something.  If I'm hungry, I'll eat some breakfast, which I spread out over three hours.  If I don't want to eat anything substantial at that time, I'll eat 3 or 4 saltine crackers.  Then I'll have a cup of tea.  

This is all leading to something that matters, so stick with me here.  

I go to my library's website and from there, to the Kansas City Star, which is free to me that way, although a little tiresome to read when one only has 5G Internet... but what's time to a cheapskate?  Usually after that I read the One-Year Bible's daily portion and take time to pray for those who are hurting.  And I pray for forgiveness for my wrongs, because boy, do I need it!  

Lately I've been going ahead and doing a blog entry before Cliff gets up.  Considering it's all drivel, you'd be surprised how long it takes me to do one blog entry.  It's always an hour at least, and if I'm adding pictures or links, it's longer.  Today, following my prayer time, I had an idea.  Because of the timing, I'd like to think the idea was God-given, but I wouldn't swear to that.  I don't want to attribute something to him that I might make a mess of.  It would make him look bad.

Out of nowhere I thought about my left-hand writing, and how much I'm improving when I use the skill often.  I usually write down recipes, or something from the Bible.  That isn't doing the world a bit of good, but it is starting to feel more natural as I write with my left hand.  

I need a pen pal!  So I googled pen pals and found many sites; there are people all over the world wanting pen pals.  But I was reminded how much spam and scamming there is on the Internet, and how you don't really know who you're dealing with online.

I would rather write to someone I know is real.  What if I called a nursing home and asked for some people who would enjoy getting letters?  That would work, but then I wondered if any of the readers of my blog might know someone personally who would like to get some mail.  I like that idea best of all.

Maybe you know someone who doesn't have many relatives or friends left on this earth, someone who thinks he or she is totally forgotten.  If you know someone like that who never gets any mail, submit their name and address to me and I'll send them a letter.  Please don't do this in the comments:  My email address is, and that's where you can tell me a little about the person and tell me the name and address.  

Not all lonely folks live in a nursing home, so if you have anyone who would like me to write to them, let me know.  If I get swarmed with emails, I'm not sure how I'll handle it.  I can't even promise I'll get around to writing to every single one.  I'm still pretty slow at writing with my left hand.   

Now I'll make a true confession:  My mom was in a nursing home a hundred miles away for several years, and she would have loved getting letters from me; all I ever sent her was a card once in a while, on special occasions.  She loved to get letters, and answered them as long as she was able.  I should have written to her at least once a week, but the thought never entered my head.  Nothing can make up for that, but maybe I can brighten someone's day who perhaps has thoughtless children who love her (or him) but tend to put them on the back burner.

If I could live my life over, I would be nicer to my mother.



Saturday, January 02, 2021

All it takes is the right recipe

My husband is a very easy man to cook for.  I used to tell people, "I can count on one hand the foods he won't eat," and then I'd name the hated foods:  yogurt, oysters, turnips, and black-eyed peas.  I could add grits to the list, but that's something I never cooked until the past couple of years anyway.

Since I discovered, I seldom use my cookbooks except for the old favorites I've made for years.  I like so many things about that website!  First of all, thousands of people rate the recipes, so if you see a five-star recipe, you can pretty well assume it's going to be good.  Before you use the recipe you might want to read a few reviews, because sometimes there are corrections made to the original recipe that improve it:  for instance, I found the best banana bread recipe I've ever used there; however, the person who posted the recipe said to slice the bananas instead of mashing them.  Common sense told me that would not work, and comments confirmed that.  It's a five-star recipe, but if you follow it exactly, you're going to be getting bites of mushy cooked banana that aren't mixed in with the bread; at least, that's how it seems to me, and reviewers agreed.  Mash the bananas like you always do, and you will have banana bread that could win a prize at the county fair.

For years, I tried to cook creamed turnips that tasted like the ones my mother used to make.  I'd make a white sauce with a little sugar added (because when my mom made them, they were sweet), but they never measured up.  Then one day I surfed my way to allrecipes, put "turnips" in a search, and found Thanksgiving Day Creamed Turnips.  Bingo!  I followed the recipe and I was six years old again, sitting at the kitchen table eating my mother's turnips and asking for more.  Cliff agrees they are better that way, but he still doesn't like the smell of them cooking, so I get to eat them all.  What I'll do is cook a big batch of them, put them in the refrigerator, and eat some heated in the microwave every day until they're gone.  I do that with grits, too.  

Since I mentioned grits:  Neither of us ever understood why anybody would eat grits.  Then I discovered CHEESE grits, and I was hooked.  I've tried various recipes and have a favorite one.  Cliff will eat a small serving of cheese grits now.  He's even asked for some a couple of times.  I found one recipe he liked best, but it isn't my favorite; it has eggs mixed in and is baked in the oven for an hour. 

Every New Year's Day for years I've heated up a can of black-eyed peas for good  luck.  I'm not superstitious, but it's fun to pretend something might bring me good luck.  For several years I have made Ree Drummond's black-eyed pea dip, which both of us liked.  I would have made it this year, but when I went to our nearest small-town store, they didn't seem to have any canned black-eyed peas; so I picked up a bag of dried ones, thinking I'd cook a small amount for my dip and toss the rest.  But when I got up yesterday I decided to see if allrecipes had something different I'd want to try.

If you are a confirmed hater of black-eyed peas like my husband was, you are not going to believe this:  I found a recipe for black-eyed peas we both love, better-tasting than any kind of beans I've ever cooked in my life!  I halved the recipe, but I almost wish I hadn't now:  I could have put portions in the freezer for later.  There's plenty left for today, thank goodness.  We won't be making it in place of other beans because it is so full of unhealthy things, it ought to be against the law:  bacon, bacon grease, ham, butter... oh yes, this recipe is loaded with fat.  But I know what we'll be having on every New Year's Day for whatever brief time is left to us on this earth, and we'll talk about it often throughout the year.  You can find the recipe HERE, but I'm putting it right on my blog so I'll have it for future reference.  Please, all you haters... put your prejudices aside and just try the recipe once.  If Cliff took to it so well, I can't imagine anyone not liking it.  By the way, I did the quick-soak rather than soaking them overnight, and I only cooked them four or five hours.  Even that long seemed ridiculous to me, but since they came out so good, I'll probably keep doing it.

Dave's Georgia Black Eyed Peas
Enjoy and serve with cornbread.
15 mins
8 hrs 20 mins
8 hrs
16 hrs 35 mins
16 servings
Dave's Georgia Black Eyed Peas


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Rinse, pick over, and place the peas in a large bowl. Cover with several inches of cool water; let stand 8 hours to overnight.

  • Pour the water into a large saucepan or soup pot. Add the bouillon cubes and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the bouillon. Stir in the peas, reduce heat, and bring to a simmer.

  • Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

  • Melt the butter in the pan with the bacon grease; cook and stir the onions until they begin to turn brown at the edges, about 10 minutes. Stir the onions and cooking fat into the peas; add the crumbled bacon, ham, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the peas over low heat for 8 hours, stirring every hour.

Nutrition Facts

431 calories; protein 20.8g; carbohydrates 31.3g; fat 25.2g; cholesterol 50.8mg; sodium 1176.8mg.