Sunday, December 31, 2023

Sunday Stealing


1. What did you do this year that you had not done before?  I made Chex Mix for the first time in my life.  Isn't that exciting?

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions/goals for the year and will you make/set more for next year?  What are they? What are your new ones?  I am too old to make New Year's resolutions.

3. Did anyone you know give birth? Or get pregnant?  The preacher's son at the Baptist church is the only one I can think of whose wife had a baby.  Now they have two sweet daughters. 

4. Did anyone you know die? One of my cousins lost her husband, and Cliff had a cousin die.  Or have a serious illness?  No one close to me that I can think of, although a cousin  Alice (my age) and her husband were in a head-on crash while Christmas shopping, and both had injuries.  Alice was in the  hospital longer and had many broken bones.

5. What places did you visit?  I don't even think we left the state this year!  We went to see autumn leaves in the Ozarks (bad timing, the leaves were prettier here at home), and we went again to the Ozarks so Cliff could buy a faulty tractor so he'd have something to do. 

6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year (doesn't have to be a physical thing)?  I would like to know that all our family could get together without someone holding a grudge for a relative and refusing to  go anywhere that person is going to be... so the family circle is broken.

7. What date from this year will remain etched in your memory and why?  I can't think of any particular date, but even if there was one, I would likely have forgotten it by now.  Sometimes I can't even remember why I walked into another room.

8. What was your biggest achievement this year?  my garden 

9. Did you get sick or injured? No.  I haven't even had a cold since before the Covid appeared.  Anyone you know?  See question number 4. 

10. What was the best thing you bought?  A new mattress, I suppose.  How boring, right? 

11. Where did most of your disposable income go (money leftover after you pay for food, transportation and shelter)?  Old tractors for Cliff and high-priced chocolate for me. 

12. What song will always remind you of this year?  All of the Monkeys Ain't in the Zoo 

13. What do you wish you would have done more of?  Not a thing. 

14. What do you wish you would have done less of?   Nothing.  Every day was precious. 

15. What was your favorite new TV program? Movie? Album/Songs? Or if you didn't pick up any new ones, what are you still watching/listening to?  Cliff and  I bring our noon meal (dinner) into the living room and watch an Andy Griffith show.  We've seen them all multiple times, but that show takes us back to a kinder, gentler time.
We watch movies on Paramount and Netflix.  We watched Big George Foreman on Netflix night before last, and really enjoyed it.  Afterward I googled the actual boxing match portrayed at the end of the movie.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Musings on songwriting, as well as the new year

The lyrics of my song are pretty much done.  I've changed words and phrases, thrown out some things and added others.  There is a beginning and an end.  

The tune has me wondering, though.  This song doesn't seem "country", which is all I've ever done.  I have zero skills on the guitar.  I chord, that's all; and even then I miss strings often and don't know a lot of chords.  I need a real songwriter to help with the tune.  I've done something different that isn't like anything I've done with a song or poem, and while it seems right, I'm not sure exactly what to do with it, so I'm waiting for a breakthrough.  I could read it as a poem, but it isn't meant to be a poem.

We're having winter weather now.  Light rain, or snow that melts within a couple hours.  Thirties and forties by day and freezing or near freezing at night.  Clouds most of the time.  I saw the full moon one night this week, but otherwise clouds cover the skies.  

Every year the time speeds up.  I can't believe this year only has three days left.  It hasn't been a bad year for us, though.

Cliff got two, count 'em, TWO new cochlear implants this year, and his hearing is still getting better all the time.  He'll be getting a tuneup next week, and that always brings about improvement.  I'm so thankful for that, and he is too.  He's been having dizzy spells intermittently.  He has an appointment for that in late January.  He had one before, but hadn't had any problems for about a month and thought he was cured, so he cancelled.  We first thought the dizziness was connected to his last cochlear implant, but since then we remembered that he had some severe dizzy spells long before that happened.  He told me once that even if he had the dizziness the rest of his life, those implants would still be worth it.

I had a lot of problems with my stomach hurting in the new year of 2020.  Nothing helped.  I was told I had Barrett's esophagus, a condition that is permanent and can lead to cancer.  However, two years later when they scoped my stomach, I did NOT have Barrett's esophagus!  Doctors do make mistakes!  In February of 2020 I stopped drinking coffee and switched to tea.  From that time forward, I started improving and last year got off all the meds doctors had given me for my stomach.  A few months ago I decided to try one cup of coffee with cream.  No problem.  Since then I've been drinking two cups of coffee every morning, with no problem at all.  Almost every day I thank God that I can drink coffee again.  If you are a coffee drinker, you know just how wonderful that is.  Oh yes, and I can eat all the chocolate I want now.  Sometimes if you are forced to do without something for a while, you learn to appreciate it when you get it back.

My pets seem to have fared well this year, even poor old Mama Kitty.

We have enough money that Cliff can afford to mess around with broken-down tractors, and enough for me to buy anything I take a notion to.  My needs are small, in the grand scheme of things.

We are so appreciative of Arick, our oldest grandchild, who does any hard work we ask of him:  Mowing, helping Cliff on projects, bringing in the heavy groceries... I wish all senior citizens had someone in their family like that, and of course, many do.  We never take it for granted.  All the grandchildren come to visit once in a while, and that is something else to be thankful for.

Every year I am more and more grateful for Tylenol and ibuprofen.  I also take more of both, although never more than two doses daily of either.

If next year turns out like this one, I will not complain.

I hope all my readers have a happy 2024.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Willie Nelson helped me write a song today

Almost all the television programs we watch any more are on streaming platforms.  I've finally figured out which ones suit us the best.  Of course we have Prime Video, since it comes with Prime.  We also have Paramount+ and Netflix.  Paramount has a Willie Nelson documentary we've been watching; we finished it tonight.

Writing songs is hard, even when they come to mind quickly.  If it weren't for, I don't know if I could write songs at all.  The first draft of the lyrics are never first rate, and I end up looking for synonyms for words I can't rhyme, which often changes a whole line or two and takes a whole different turn.  But you don't care about that.

In the last segment of the documentary, there was talk about Willie Nelson's oldest son, Billy.  He committed suicide on Christmas day in 1992, when he was thirty-three years old.  He was an alcoholic.

In 1987, Willie and his son Billy began the process of working on an album of gospel music together.  Billy also occasionally joined his father on stage to sing gospel songs.

With the death of his son, Willie shelved the project for a time. Once he could focus again on that particular project, Willie completed and released the album "Peace in the Valley" in 1994. Included among the cuts was a special duet between father and son, with Billy singing lead vocals, "My Body's Just a Suitcase for My Soul." The album saw a re-release in 2015.

I found it on Youtube and listened, but wasn't really impressed by the song.  However, that "suitcase for my soul" title reminded me of a statement made by a lady at the church I attended long ago:  "I am a spirit; I have a soul; I live in a body."

And suddenly my mind said, "That sounds like it could be a song."

This morning I worked on it, then spent about an hour this evening trying to make it more poetic.  I read the words to Cliff, and he was impressed, for what that's worth.  I have a vague idea what the tune will be, but haven't even tried it out yet.  We'll see what happens when I get around to it.  If the tune doesn't work, it'll be a poem.  Wish me luck.

I'll dedicate it to Willie.  Ha!  

By the way, neither Willie or Billy wrote "My Body's Just a Suitcase for My Soul".  Mae Axton, the same woman who wrote Heartache Hotel for Elvis, wrote it after seeing the Vietnam Memorial.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Fairy tales

I suppose I was about eight years old when I was given a great big book of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales for Christmas.  I've fairly certain it was from my sister and her husband.  I wonder if children still read fairy tales these days.   A lot of the tales were downright scary!  Some were sad, some were funny, and some would scare me to death.  I read some of them over and over, and avoided others.  Here I am, 79 years old, remembering the book my sister gave me for Christmas.  

I remember only parts of most of the stories.  I got to thinking about that book this morning when, for some reason, one came to mind about a princess on a glass mountain, one of my favorite stories in the book.  Whoever could ride a horse to the top of the glass mountain would get to marry the princess.

Often I do a google search to find out what the whole story is, because I don't remember the details, and then I realize why I liked it.  You'll find a synopsis of the Glass Mountain HERE, if you're interested.  Now I know why I was so fond of this one:  one of the characters was a young man who sat in the ashes (??) and his brothers made fun of him (sort of like a male Cinderella).  At the end, though, that young man won the princess.  And yes, I liked Cinderella, too.  Those stories made me happy.

Some of those stories scared me.  I read them all, but if they were scary or sad, I didn't read them as often.  The saddest one was The Little Match Girl, which I both liked and hated, all at the same time.  She freezes to death and dies at the end.  I could almost feel the cold winter air, on the few times I found the courage to read it again.  It almost makes me shiver even now.

One of my favorites was about a man who claimed to kill seven with one blow... in the end, he gets a princess.  There must have been lots of princesses in Fairytale Land.  Remember the Princess and the Pea?  Yes, another favorite.  I always liked happy endings.    

I understood those were only made-up stories, but the scary ones still frightened me.  I imagine in this day and age, a lot of parents wouldn't want their children to read something that would scare them to death, but I think the stories were good for me.  I learned that some things that scare me aren't even real; they're just a figment of my imagination. 

I always got a lot of Christmas gifts, but that book, although it must have gotten tossed out by the time I was twelve, is still a part of me.  I remember favorite gifts from other childhood Christmases: a metal barn with fences and farm animals, a certain doll, a wooden snow sled.  But none of those has stayed with me like Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales.  Maybe that's the reason I still like to read so much.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Surprises in a winter garden

I have paid no attention to the garden since October.

However, when we have a nice day in the 50's with little wind blowing and the sun shining, I try to spend at least thirty minutes out in the sun because it helps to put me in a good mood.  I have given up taking actual walks, but I shuffle around the yard and go out in the pasture a little way.  I watch Gabe having fun.  At one point I saw him chewing on something and forced it out of his mouth.  Ew!  It was some kind of bone that had been around a while.

I looked at the garden and saw there were still signs of life, in spite of the fact that we've had multiple frosts:  spinach, carrots, a huge cabbage that wasn't huge in October, and one big turnip I had missed.  I reached down and picked a spinach leaf and ate it; it was delicious, with a little bit of sweet taste, which surprised me. 

The bugs had been eating on the cabbage before the frosts, but after pulling the outside leaves off, it looks great now.

This turnip was bigger to start with, but the top wasn't good, so I cut it off.

I never imagined things would keep growing on the day before the start of winter.  Live and learn.  In October the carrots were finger-sized.  Look at them now!

Monday, December 18, 2023

Road Trip, Part 2

This shouldn't have been a two-parter, but I got totally off the subject there for awhile, so now we'll get on with it.

Cliff spends a lot of time on the computer looking at all things tractor-related.  Last week he mentioned that he would love to go to a certain tractor salvage place, just to look around; he's basically an Oliver man, and the people at this place specialize in Minneapolis Moline, Oliver, and White tractors, none of which have been built for many years.  He was wishing it wasn't so far away.  

We do a lot of sitting and looking at our computers, because once we start moving around, we hurt.  But he was so happy working on that last tractor, I figured anything he wants that has to do with tractors is good for him, so I looked up the mileage to Welters Farm Supply: 180 miles, way down below Springfield and Branson!

"Sounds like a good road trip to me," I said.  I suggested we get a motel so he wouldn't have to drive there and back in one day, and called Bed arnd Bones to make sure they had room for my dog, Gabe, on Friday night. 

The next day Cliff noticed an ad for a Ford tractor on Facebook Marketplace and said, "Here's a tractor I'd like to look at if it wasn't so far away."

It was in Long Lane Missouri.  I had some idea where it was without even checking, because I have an Internet friend whose address is Long Lane.  She and I compare our Wordle games on Facebook every day.  I actually know her from the blog she kept when she and her husband had a dairy farm.  I love dairy cows, and that's why I followed her blog.

I told my husband he was in luck, because Long Lane is practically on the way to where we are going.  Oh, did he ever get excited!  He tried to get ahold of the guy with the tractor on Facebook, but but the man never responded, even after 14 hours or so, and we were almost ready to leave.  I decided to look the man up on Facebook and was surprised to see a mutual friend on his list:  Rebecca, my Wordle friend!  I messaged her and ask if she knew him, because he wasn't answering us about the ad.  "Yes," she said.  "He broke his phone yesterday and can't answer."

So Cliff sent him his cell phone number and they connected.  All was well, and Friday morning we were on our way. 

  I looked at the reviews for Welters; nothing but five-star!  Nice, friendly people, everyone said.  When we arrived, I told the ladies in the shop I had read their reviews, and had expected them to have halos and wings when I got there.  They laughed and laughed.  

Cliff asked if he could walk around the salvage yard and one lady said, "You want to take a tour?"

They called a man inside who took Cliff away on a side-by-side off-road vehicle.  There was no room for me, but temperatures down there were in the high fifties, so I sat in the truck and read my book on the cell phone and stayed comfortably warm.  When they came back, Cliff assured me I was better off staying behind because he and that man had a nice, long "old-man talk".  Don't ask me about that, I have no idea.  Were they comparing their aches and pains?  Ha!

He spent a good hunk of cash, although he had brought along something he traded the guy for $250 that helped on the costs.  With that done, we started north to Buffalo, which is very near that Ford tractor is and got a motel for the night.

At 8 a.m. Cliff called the guy and we were off; it was a twenty minute drive to his place.  By the way, this Ford tractor's engine isn't working, which worries me, but Cliff thinks he can fix it.  He's never worked on a Ford tractor before, but there's a man in our tractor club who lives six miles from us; he has restored many, many Fords and kept most of them.  So if my husband needs to pick his brain, he's close at hand.    

There's my husband, looking the project over.  He and his older brother are planning to go get it Wednesday.  I'll be staying home, knowing my husband is a happy man.  

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Road Trip, Part One: Tractors on the Brain

I used to plot ways to have some fun traveling.  Cliff is a home body, and has always hated to drive on long trips, but over the years I've found ways to make him love traveling:  if there's anything that involves tractors somewhere, he'll go.  For quite a while we had a popup camper to use on the long trips.  He also hates camping, but I loved it, and I got to the point that I enjoyed the tractor shows.  

When I wanted to go to Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and see where Ree Drummond had her store, I simply looked for interesting things to do along the way, like museums, which we both enjoy.   We stopped in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and toured the Phillips Petroleum museum.  That was probably the highlight of that trip for Cliff; I thought he'd never get through the whole place, reading all the stories about everything that happened.

There is a lovely Catholic church in Pawhuska that we toured.  Our guide told us the history of the church.  I blogged about it HERE.  I think it was my  favorite  thing in that town, because Ree Drummond's store is pretty much just an overpriced tourist trap.  No, we didn't see any of the Drummonds there.  I didn't realize at the time that a bus sometimes takes people to the Drummond Ranch... but you have to plan to go on certain days for that.  I would have loved it, but my husband will never go back.  He doesn't even want to drive to Oklahoma to take me to see my sister, these days.  

The truth is that I really don't want to go many places now.  My knees and legs always hurt, so I can't be on my feet long, which even ruins me for going through a museum.  Cliff is almost as bad off as I am.

He can't get up and down to do jobs like this, so Arick does it.  He sandblasted the whole tractor, which is a disgusting job that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.

Cliff has been saying for the last five years that he's done fixing and painting tractors.  He simply isn't up to doing most of the hard work any more.  And yet, every once in a while, a "new" old tractor appears in the shop... one that he swears again that will be the last one.  

Lately, he has a lot of help:  the grandson next door does the hard stuff (working on tractors is mostly hard stuff).  Below, the two of them are discussing whether this will be safe after they get the wheels off.  (Spoiler alert:  It wasn't, but nobody was hurt.)


Here is the finished product.  Our son Jim made the canopy when he was visiting in July, because he's a great welder. 

This is the retired couple he bought the tractor from; they  live in walking distance from us.  

It didn't take long for Cliff to get it running; unfortunately, he soon realized it was going to need a lot more work.  But at least it was the last tractor he would ever fix, right?
.... to be continued

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Chex Mix

I've enjoyed eating Chex mix several times over the years:  Cliff's brother's wife makes it around Christmas, and my oldest granddaughter makes her mother's family recipe.  Until yesterday, though, I had never made it myself.  I knew, from looking at the recipe on the Chex boxes, that it would be easy to make,  and I liked it OK, although I have been accused of picking all the nuts out of it and leaving the cereal for others, a time or two.

My granddaughter was here Sunday and I asked her for her mother's recipe.  Here it is, in all its glory.  

Unfortunately, it doesn't tell the amount of most of the dry  ingredients to use, and I was a little scared of the amount of butter.  Also, our trash bags are scented inside, so I wouldn't want to use any of my trash bags for something I'm going to eat.

 So I began looking around the Internet and found a version that had cheesy ingredients in it.  The lady sharing the recipe also said to put as much of any single dry ingredient as I wanted:  "You can alter the amounts for any of the dry ingredients to your own personal taste - as long as the total number of cups remains between 24-28."

Well in that case, how can I lose?  You'll find that recipe HERE, although I  didn't use nearly as many Cheetos or cheese balls as this says.

I added too many nuts even for me, which I wouldn't have thought was possible, but now I know.  Also, I have a grandson living next door who isn't a fan of some kinds of nuts and he has to go to all the trouble to take them out.  I forgot to use the pretzels I had, and didn't even know where to get Pepperidge Farms Snack Sticks.  I looked at a different recipe online that said to add oyster crackers and cheese flavored goldfish, which worked great.  Oh yes, and some Cheerios.  I simply made sure I had 24 to 28 cups of the dry ingredients altogether.

I ate some for breakfast a while ago.  After all, there's breakfast cereal in it, and nuts for protein:  The perfect breakfast!  Well, except for the Cheetos... 

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

It never fails

My dog Gabe often starts smelling pretty ripe between baths.  I used to put off  bathing him as long as possible because he's too big to put in my rather small kitchen sink and I can't get down on my knees to bathe him in the bathtub.  So I'd bend over to shampoo him while he struggled, which wore us both out.  

A while back a former neighbor of mine listed an ad on Facebook for a used dog-washing station, and we bought it.  When we got it home we had to modify it somewhat so that it drained out in the bathtub; it really helped me:  I can get him lathered up and then rinsed in under five minutes.  He behaves better, too, with no struggling to get away.  Between baths, we keep the dog-washer in the back porch.

Yesterday was bath day for Gabe.  Later  on I took him for a little walk in the pasture.  I would have leashed him, but I walk so slowly, and I like him to get a chance to run around and sniff at things.  I  watch him closely though, to make sure he doesn't roll in any dead animal remains... if he's ever going to to that, it's usually right after a bath, but it didn't happen yesterday.  He did go through a few weedy  places and got stick-tights in his eyebrows and beard, but I combed them out easily when we were done.

He stays close to home these days, so when he needs to go out to check his mail, I let him go; he soon comes back, and barks at the door to let me know he's ready to come in.  I was fixing to go to bed last night, so I sent him out for his last chance to empty his tank.  I sat on the couch waiting... and waiting and waiting and waiting.  When it's dark and he takes a lot of time coming back, I always imagine coyotes stealing him away, although you never see or hear them anywhere near the house.  I called several times.  Normally he comes when I call, but not last night.  I decided to go on to bed to worry, and have Cliff let him in when he barked, but Cliff took pity on me, whistled and called him, and wouldn't you know, Gabe came when he heard the Master.  Why?  Because he knows who feeds him people food, that's why!

I came back to the living room; Gabe got a long drink of water and then started rubbing his beard on rugs or blankets or against the couch, ON the couch, and then I knew he had been up to no good.  He'd found something to eat, something sticky or clingy, and wanted it out of his beard. This wasn't my first rodeo.  Very cautiously I subdued him, bent down, and smelled his beard.  It was cooking oil from our grandson's fish-fry Sunday!   I texted the grandson and asked where he put the used oil; "I poured it out in the pasture," he said.

"Well," I told him, "Gabe found it."

I got a washcloth all soapy and worked on his beard, but he spent the rest of the time licking his feet.  I was afraid he might get sick from it, but he was ready for his breakfast as usual this morning.  Now he's licking his feet again, laying on the furnace register.

This morning he doesn't even look like he's ashamed of himself.  I'll be leashing him when he wants out, for a while.  It looks to me like he still has grease in his beard.  

Saturday, December 09, 2023

My inner child

When Cliff  and I were taking care of Cora, I spent a lot of the money her parents paid us for Little People things:  Cora and I had a farm with a barn and fences and Little People animals, and a house for Little People to live in.  There was a hog-house with mud-puddle for the swine to cool off in.  I have no idea how much I spent on Little people things.  Cora never asked for any of it, but when I played with her down on the floor, I was imagining how much I would have enjoyed it when I was her age.  At some point I had to admit that I was buying all that for myself, not Cora... although she did enjoy it with me.  

I found a good home for the Little People things when Cora got to an age where she was about ready to leave us for kindergarten and was really too old for those kinds of toys; but I held on to one of the last Little People assortments I had purchased... a Little People nativity set.  

I had almost forgotten about it until I had the Christmas tree decorated this week; when I remembered it, I had to think about what I did with it and finally recalled I had put it in a cabinet on the back porch, in its original box.  When I got it out to put under the tree, I saw batteries I had taken out four years ago and dropped in the box, and I couldn't even think what they were for.  I had forgotten my favorite thing about this set!  I listen to it every morning now and smile, because it makes me feel like I've gone back to my childhood when Santa was real and gifts were coming.  It is my favorite Christmas item, and I had hidden it all this time in a cabinet, totally forgotten.  It will always remind me of my inner child that got to live again, thanks to a beautiful little girl who played with this old woman for awhile.

Friday, December 08, 2023

Christmas things

I'm really enjoying the Christmas tree, partly because of the two nativity scenes I have; both of them have a story.

 My mother was a people person.  Through the sixties, she was an Avon lady, one of the most successful ones in the surrounding area, winning prizes sometimes for her salesmanship.  When she no longer put up Christmas trees and decorations, she gave these to me.  I added the shepherd, sheep, donkey, and cow that I found at Walmart.  

I wasn't an easy teenager to have around the house;  it wasn't that I did anything harmful or awful except that I thought I knew everything and had a mouth on me that should have been smacked daily.  I never really thought about or realized then how much others loved and admired her.  She was welcomed by her customers and often seemed to serve as confessor and psychologist for them, as well as a friend.  A lady in or near Blue Springs made most of this nativity set, starting with the two camels (it's difficult to make both of them out in this picture) and the Holy Family.  I decided I should know the name of the person who made them, so late in her life I asked Mother for her name and wrote it on the underneath of one of the camels.  I know nothing about the woman except her name:  Brenda Tuttle.

So this reminds me of my mother, a friend to all who knew her.  I didn't appreciate or even think about it when I was living with my parents, but I look back now and wish I hadn't been such a brat.

Tomorrow, my other nativity set... a newer model. 

Thursday, December 07, 2023

One thing and another

I always thought cats were very clean pets.  They carefully bury their poop, and they spent a lot of time washing themselves with their tongues.  Blue does a lot of grooming, but he is NOT a clean cat!  Every once in awhile he will come in with half-dried mud on both sides of his body.  I never could figure out how he got so dirty until a couple of days ago when he followed me to the mailbox:  There was a tire track the mail lady had left behind that was muddy and wet.  Blue went right to it and laid down on one side in the mud, smiling at me as if to say, "Oh, this feels so good."  Then he turned to the other side.  He must think he's a pig!

On another note:  Cora and her dad came over last weekend with some candy they had made.  Cora had been with her Iowa grandma over Thanksgiving, and the two of them created a decoration made of insulation foam in a can for us to hang over our front door.  In case you wonder what it is, I'll tell you.  It's supposed to look like giant popcorn balls.  There are lights on it, and they even supplied the batteries to keep them going.  We weren't very excited about putting it up, but we'd do anything to make Cora happy because we had her around from the time she was two months old; she's 10 now.  Don't laugh at the way it's hanging; we just did it the easiest way we could, and Cliff has been having dizzy spells lately.   Obviously, it isn't lit up right now, at 8 A.M. in the morning.

 We haven't had a Christmas tree in at least four years.  I've always preferred real Christmas trees, but we finally bought a fake one and used it one year.  It just wasn't the same, so after that Christmas we took it down, took it apart, and stuffed it into the box it came it.  I had the grandson put it in the attic of his garage and forgot about it.

I don't know if it was Cora bringing us her project that triggered me or something else, but I got to thinking it wouldn't be such a big deal to use our fake tree this year.  Cliff and Arick neither one recalled it being put in the garage, but I was pretty sure that's what they did.  Tuesday night Arick came over after work and said he'd see if it was up there.  Sure enough, he came over with the box in hand, twenty or thirty minutes later.  Yesterday I got it out and put it up in a corner, and Cliff dug out the Christmas lights and such.  All things considered, it doesn't look bad, and it was fun looking at the little doo-dads I've had for years that I decorated many trees with.  And when Christmas is over, I won't have all those needles in the carpet like I had all my life.

Well, it's winter, and I've been reading most of my days away.  My latest reads have been All My Knotted Up Life by Beth Moore; I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy, and Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano.  I have five books I'm waiting in line for:  Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride, Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, Crow Mary by Kathleen Grissom, and Being Henry... the Fonz and Beyond by Henry Winkler. 

This morning I started All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers, and I already love it.  This book had me from the first line:  "The residents of Wakarusa, Indiana, could spin gossip faster than a spider spins its web..."

I think we're going shopping today.  Bye bye.

Well, we didn't get a mile away from the house and Cliff was once again stricken with vertigo, so we came back home.  He called the doctor's office and set up another appointment like the one he canceled because he thought he was over the dizzy spells.  His new appointment is six weeks away. 

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Sunday Stealing

1. if someone wanted to really understand you, what would they read, watch, and listen to?  They would read "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine"; why?  "Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions"  What would they watch or listen to? I don't know.

2. have you ever found a writer who thinks just like you? if so, who?  Not really, although lots of writers are interested in some of the things I am interested in.  I like to read about people who struggle with themselves or have had a hard time conforming to people.  I seldom read any book of fiction about rich people, royalty, and so forth.

3. do you care about your ethnicity?  I hope this comes across the way I mean it:  I'm glad I am white simply because we don't have the struggles other people have in this country.  We can get away with a lot more because of the prejudices of others.  It's safer to be white. 

4. what musical artists have you most felt connected to over your lifetime?  Dolly Parton.  She started out so poor, and she has never forgotten it.

5. are you an artist?  That's a laugh.  No, I am not

6. dog person or cat person?  I like both, but if I had to choose one or the other, it would be a dog.

7. inside or outdoors?  I've always been an outdoor person.  As a child, all my playtime was outside if the weather permitted it.  However, at my age, I do like the comfort inside my house where I am content, also.  There will never be peace over all the earth, but if you're lucky you can have peace in your home.  

8. five most influential books over your lifetime: The Bible.  I'm sure I heard it read from birth, then learned more about it in Sunday School.  I still read it every morning.  The Little House books; I often thought of the first years of my marriage on our twenty acres as my Little House years... gardening, milking cows, baking bread and canning fruits and veggies.  Black Beauty because I wanted a horse so badly... but I didn't get one until my Little House years.  Following Atticus, because that's what made me get my Schnauzer puppy, Gabe.  He's my best buddy except for my  husband.    
9. would you rather be in Middle Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts, or somewhere else?  I'll pass.  I don't read books or watch many movies that deal with talking animals, magic, and so forth.  I got all that out of my system as a kid, reading my Hans Christian Anderson storybook.

10. list the top five things you spend the most time doing, in order.  Probably being on the computer, reading books, cooking and washing dishes (I got rid of my dishwasher some time ago), gardening in the summer.  Whatever I'm doing, I enjoy my dog and he is right with me wherever I am.

11. have you ever felt like you had a “mind-meld” with someone?  Not really.  If I did have a friend who thought like me, I probably couldn't stand her.  It's hard to get along with someone who has all your own faults.
12. could you live as a hermit?  Oh yes!  My husband has always told me I could get along without people just fine.  I would just  as soon keep him around though.  

13. do you feel like your outside appearance is a fair representation of the “real you”?  Definitely!  I do not "dress up"

14. three songs that you connect with right now.  Hard Times (Come again no more), Coat of Many Colors, and Me and Bobby McGee.

15. pick one of your favorite quotes.  "Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes."  Henry David Thoreau 

Friday, December 01, 2023

Always hoping

A friend of mine on Facebook asked the question, "Where has this year gone?!?"

Being considerably older than her, I answered in her comment section:  "Fasten your seat belt, because every coming year seems to get a little shorter. It gets scary sometimes, like I'm on a runaway train."  

I'm sure some of you know that feeling.  And yet, we plan for the future in small ways.  For instance, this year in August I came in the house from the garden, sat down to rest, grabbed my laptop and saw an email: Stark brothers were having a sale on a few things.  I went to the site and saw there was a Sunshine Blue blueberry plant on sale; I like blueberries, and they don't have sharp stickers on them, so I ordered one.  Later on, nearing September, they had an O'Neal blueberry plant with the price lowered, so I ordered that one too, because one little plant couldn't possibly give me very many berries.

Now here I sit in December, wondering why I wanted these plants, let alone the Golden Delicious apple tree I planted this summer.  I will be 80 in July, and those blueberries won't bear for two or three years.  The tree will take two to five years.

Even if I live to be a hundred, both my replacement knee and my natural knee are giving me more pain all the time.  Will I even be able to garden next year?  Or the next?

But I recall how ordering those plants made me happy at the time.  I could almost taste them, looking at the pictures on that website.  The fact that I bought them shows I have the hope that one day I might be eating delicious fruit; maybe that hope alone makes the cost worthwhile.  And say, if I am going to have berries, why not order some red raspberries next year?

Hope is what keeps us going.  

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

A recipe for my friend Carlene


2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup sugar

dash salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup whipped topping (dairy or non-dairy)


Combine eggs, sugar, salt, and lemon juice in top of a          double boiler.  Cook over boiling water, stirring constantly until thick.  Cool.   Fold in whipped topping.

Now, combine all the following and fold into the above dressing:

2 cups chopped apples

1 cup pineapple chunks

1 cup halved grapes

2 bananas, sliced

1/2 cup celery

1/2 cup pecans

Could  it be any easier?  And to think I've only made it twice in the space of thirty-some years.  I'm going to correct that error by Christmas time.

Monday, November 27, 2023

It's finally happened; I want nothing.

We don't do Christmas gifts here.  Back when we had a lot less money, we tried to buy something for all the appropriate people in the family  The only way we could do that was to use a credit card, which never got paid off completely.  We finally told our relatives we only wanted to buy gifts for the children, which made it much more affordable.  At some point, we even opted out of that, since all the grandchildren were grown.    

So when Black Friday comes around and my email is full of invitations to buy things at rock-bottom prices, I've looked for things that Cliff and I could use while their on sale.  This year for the first time ever, I couldn't even find one thing I needed or wanted.  I did look at toasters because the one we have gets one side done while the other side is barely toasted at all.  But we've learned the hard way that all toasters these days are junk, and as I read the negative feedback on two or three of them, I knew I was wasting my time.  We bought a toaster oven once that did a good job on toast, but it took up too much room on the counter to suit me and I got rid of it.  

So here I am, no longer wanting to buy the latest gift or gadget.  There's nothing I want or need that money can buy.  

We had a happy Thanksgiving shared with the family of our oldest grandson's Significant Other; their tribe blends very well with ours.

Cliff's late brother's oldest son joined us Thursday, along with his wife.  They  invited us to their Thanksgiving celebration on Saturday (tacos!!!).  Cliff took them up on it; I wasn't all that excited, simply because there wouldn't be that many people I knew and I am not very comfortable in that situation.  Honestly, I don't want to go anywhere these days, especially when it's cold.  And the nephew lives an hour's drive away in Peculiar.

But now I am SO glad we went.

Cliff's brother Don died a few years ago.  They  were eighteen months apart in age, and had a very close relationship all their lives.  Cliff still says he misses him every day.  All three of his sons were there, absolutely overjoyed to see their uncle, and he was thrilled to see them.  We see Scotty, the oldest, quite a bit, and Bryan maybe once or twice a year.  But we hadn't seen the youngest, Shawn, for a long time.  He's the one who, from a distance, resembles his father a lot; he even walks like his father did.

I told the three to get together so I could take a picture, and they wanted Cliff to join them in the shot.  I agreed.  The picture doesn't do any of them justice; Cliff hates how he looks in it (he said to me, "I guess I'm just ugly").  I actually took four shots, but this was the only one where they were all looking at the camera and Cliff had at least a little bit of a smile.

Shawn, Cliff, Bryan, and Scotty

Their mom was there, so I had a good visit with her. 

This is what I woke up to Sunday.  I'm ashamed to say it, but I didn't go to even one of my two churches.  The thought of getting out of my pajamas and warm robe, then going out in the cold and tromping through snow, was just too much.  I will pay for that omission all week, because when I don't go to church on Sunday, the week literally feels like it will never end.

What have I become?  I used to put on Carhartt coveralls twice a day and go milk my cows.  I wouldn't even skip going for my  walk in winter.  Now I don't even want to stick my head out the door.


Saturday, November 25, 2023

Recipes from the Kansas City Star

For many years we subscribed to the Kansas City Star and Times; yes, two papers each day.  The Times was discontinued in 1990.  After all, we had been getting most of the important news events on television by then.  We didn't realize it, but all newspapers were going to start going the way of the dinosaurs.  I would read many portions of the Star religiously:  Ann Landers, Abigail Van Buren, Charles Gusewelle's column twice weekly, and the once-a-week Thursday recipe page.  I still have some of those recipes that I clipped out of the paper and glued onto recipe cards.  

My grandson's favorite dessert is Oreo Delight; I probably had that recipe for at least ten years before I ever tried it, but one Easter I finally made it.  My oldest grandson, Arick, was four years old at the time.   We had eaten dinner that day, but some of the guests were eating desserts when I went outside to the barn for some reason (I had cows and calves to tend back then).  I came back and walked in the door, and my smiling grandson, sitting on the floor with a dish in one hand and a spoon in the other, looked at me wide-eyed and said, "Gramma, I LIKE this berzert!" (His way of saying dessert.)

.  I've been making it ever since, although it's far from my favorite... gobs of Cool Whip, Oreo cookie crumbs, instant chocolate pudding... that isn't cooking!  There's also some cream cheese, and enough butter to hold the oreo crumbs together on the bottom of the pan.  But  I promise you that wherever I take it, it is the first dessert to disappear.  

As I was looking through my old yellowed recipe cards this week, I saw a recipe from the Star that I remembered making once, and only once.  Kathy, my then daughter-in-law, was staying at our house with her children when our son was in the Army.  The recipe was for Waldorf Salad, and the reason I saved it was that it didn't have mayonnaise in it.  

You see, when I was a child in Iowa and we had dinners at church, someone would always bring Waldorf salad.  I made the mistake of thinking it was a fruit-and-whipped-cream dessert and would put some on my plate.  Then I'd taste the mayonnaise and wished I could spit it out.  Back then I  had no love for mayo or Miracle Whip or mustard or ketchup; besides, who mixes mayo in with whipped cream?  So when I saw this recipe in the paper years ago, I couldn't wait to try it.  I made it one time only for some holiday dinner, and it was exactly what I thought... DELICIOUS!  The daughter-in-law liked it so much, she begged me to make it several times while she was with us, but I never did... that is, until Wednesday of this week.  I should tell you that I do like mayo and Miracle Whip in their proper places now, but I still don't want it mixed up  with whipped cream! 

I knew when I made the fruit salad that nobody but Kathy and I would probably eat any of it, with all the  other stuff around; but I wanted to find out if she even remembered it.  Yes, my former daughter-in-law spends holiday meals with us, she and Andy.  After all, her two children are always with us at holidays.  As it happens, though, she was under the weather, so she and Andy didn't come.  But the grandson tried it later, and said, "Who made this?  It's really good!"

So another good berzert is discovered.  And being in his thirties now, Arick knows how to pronounce the word dessert. 

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Sunday Stealing

1, People I'd like to thank and why:  All my relatives near and far who have put up with my very weird personality their whole lives and loved me anyway.

2. Something I rebelled against as a kid   My parents, especially my mother, who wanted me to be sure and marry someone who was a member of the "right" church, and sooner rather than later.  I think she felt there was something wrong with me because I wasn't dating as soon as everyone else.  Believe me, I liked a lot of boys, but they didn't know I liked them because I didn't know how to flirt, and I was afraid to talk to them.  As a consequence, I never dated until I was twenty years old. 

3. What I need to accomplish before the end of the year   The same things I've accomplished this year:  all bills paid, dog and cat fed, meals every day and dishes washed, laundry done.  Yes, these are indeed accomplishments!  And I had a nice vegetable garden, too.

4. Guilty pleasures right now   Lindor chocolate candy; it's very expensive, and I eat five of them a day.  I compensate by not eating anything after our noon meal (the candy is my dessert for that meal).  Also Twinings Earl Grey Black Tea.   

5. Local landmarks:  Ten miles away at Lexington, Missouri, we have The Anderson House,  the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site, the 1847 courthouse.

6. Cause or purpose I deeply believe in   I believe in God, and that He knows who I am.  I believe in Jesus and that He loves all of us.  

7. Things I never learned to do  Drive a car.  I took the course in high school but my teacher made fun of me.  That ended my desire to learn.

8. Seasonal traditions I’m always excited for  Activities in my garden

9. Something I’d like to be mentored on  Too late.  If someone mentored about me in some way, I'd forget about it by the next day.

10. Exotic animals I wish I could keep as pets   Wild animals don't make good pets.

11. Something normal to me, that might be odd to others  Going barefoot outside any time the weather is above 45 or so.  Not having a closet full of shoes like most women.  I really don't care about nice clothes or fancy houses and am not impressed by them.  In fact, I seldom notice them.

12. The last book I quit reading and why  The Warmth of Other Suns.  It is a great non fiction book about the fifty years of African-Americans leaving the south and going north to New York and Chicago, and west to California.  I'm sure I read more that 75 percent of it, but it began to be repetitive, so I opted out.  The book had 640 pages, and I was ready to quit.

13. Right now, I appreciate...  everything I can still do.

14. When “the holiday season” starts for me   Thanksgiving

15. Holiday foods and treats I love the most   Pumpkin pie

16. “Terrible” movies that I actually like  "Terrible" is in the eye of the beholder

17. Cooking all day for holiday dinner vs. ordering carry-out  I've never done carry-out, but I probably wouldn't like it  

18. If I were trapped in a holiday movie, I’d pick...   none

19. Which holiday tradition I wish lasted all year long  I'll pass on this one.  

20. Favorite books, music, tv, movies and music this month  I'm not good at having favorites of these things.  My favorite movie is Little Big Man.  My favorite music changes depending on the day, nothing on TV deserves to be a favorite, and I read too many books to really have a favorite, but right now I'm thinking about Ron Howard's autobiography:  The Boys:  A Memoir of Hollywood and Family.