Saturday, November 29, 2008

Signs of the Times

Signs are starting to appear here and there around the house as a way to remind Richard of the things he needs to do.

The one in the bathroom says "Shampoo Hair."

This one is on the door out of his office and is a reminder to check that the laminator is off.

And this one appeared two days ago on the metal cabinet over the stove. Despite several timers and a "routine" to make sure all the burners on the stove are off, he is having a bit of trouble remembering to turn them off. Most women know what is like to cook 3 or 4 different things at one time and keep it all together. Now he is finding out how distracting it can be, and for him that is really a problem.

You see, I am positive this is not the big "A." What this is, is too much going on, which plays havoc with his ADD problem.

Yep. My honey has a touch of attention deficit disorder. He is not in any way, shape or form a hyperactive person, but he is easily distracted.

Perhaps this will help.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving memories

Just a few thoughts this morning before I launch myself into preparing the meal we will have later today and then clean up the mess I make.

Part of the Thanksgiving tradition when I was growing up was that the first thing in the morning, my dad and I made the cranberry relish for the dinner. Both of us were usually the first out of bed, so this was sort of our private time together.

We had a metal food grinder that clamped to the kitchen counter somehow. The cranberries, oranges, and probably apples, went in the hopper, and we'd turn the handle and out would come the cranberry mush.

I loved the popping sound of the cranberries as the auger pushed them through the holes at the end. Bloated ticks also make a similar satisfying popping sound when squeezed with a pair of pliers.

Then some sugar was added to it, but not too much. That cranberry relish was one of my favorite things to eat at the meal.

For the first Thanksgiving we celebrated here, I had to cook most of the meal in the kitchen of the church we were attending, because our stove had quit working, and we hadn't gotten a replacement yet. It was a cold, windy, overcast day. I remember how difficult it was trying to carry all the food back and forth between our house, the church, and then back home a gain.

Then, in connection with turkeys. When my mother was a teenager, she spent one summer with her uncles who lived in a farming community near Sacramento. She met a girl there who she remained friends with most of her life, and when we went to visit our relatives in Yuba City, we often went to visit this family on their farm. I remember one visit they had a big turkey gobbler loose in the yard. It was mean, and it chased us.

We see wild turkeys every once in a while.

They are magnificent birds, and bear only a passing resemblance to the factory farm turkeys that are raised now. They can fly, for one thing, and they can do the deed and actually reproduce themselves without help. Ben Franklin thought the turkey should be the national bird. I agree.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Disaster in the Washing Machine

In a small section of our kitchen we removed the linoleum tile.

Old, very old, linoleum tile that is not attractive and is crookedly laid. This area, which is right in front of the counter and the sink, would be a beautiful oak floor if it were repaired. sanded, and refinished.

We used used to have an attractive mat with rubber backing that we put on the floor below the kitchen sink to help protect it from water that has this habit leaping from the sink and onto the floor.

It was beige and had green foliage and flowers in autumn colors - gold, bronze, burnt orange.

Then it got really dirty. You can see just a bit of it there on the right in this photo, which also explains why it gets so dirty and needs to be washed fairly frequently. I am a disaster in the kitchen.

So Richard decided to wash it with the bath mats, which also needed to be washed.

One of the bath mats, which is fairly new, is burgundy. It had been washed at least once before, and had bled red and turned some things pink, but I didn't think anything about it when he said he was going to do all the floor mats together.

I should have thought about it. So should he.

We no longer have an attractive beige mat on the floor.

He thinks the burgundy color will fade. Maybe. I'm not optimistic.

And by way of explanation, where the propane heater is now sitting, we used to have a wood-burning stove. In the winter, being the frugal people that we are, when the stove was fired up, we hung our clothes on line strung across the living room. And the line is still there!!! All sorts of things get hung up to dry out -- damp clothes, plastic bags, the gloves Richard wears when he does the dishes. Makes for quite an attractive living room...

Monday, November 24, 2008

An apple... or two... or three... a day

Once upon a time I was at a friend's farm at the end of summer. We lived in Oregon then, in the Willamette Valley, and it was one of those rare days when the sun was shining and it was warm. There was an apple tree in the front yard. The apples were ripe.

Can I have an apple?

Sure, just be careful. The tree has not been sprayed. It might have worms

I reached up and picked one, and brushed the dust off on my shirt.

I took a bite. The juice was warm and sweet and it spurted into my mouth and I sort of slobbered it down my chin. And there was no worm.

It was.... it was....

it was... good... so very good...

I love apples.

We decided to drive out to Coleman's Hideaway Orchard to get some apples from Frank the Apple Man. He used to be Frank the UPS man, but then he retired to work in his orchard.

I called and got directions. Not too bad for Ozark directions:

You go down highway 60 to RA, but you don't turn left on RA, you turn right on the gravel road that's across from RA.

Go down that until you come to the crooked crossroad with the white sign pointing left.

But you don't turn left.

You immediately make a hard right and go down the hill. And it is about a mile down the road where the stone pillars are.

And she really did mean immediately and she really did mean hard right. At the crooked crossroad, he headed off to the right, but it wasn't downhill. Then he had put on the brakes and back up and make a hard right and go down the hill. The orchard really is hidden away. And so we bumped along on a very bad gravel road until we came to the orchard. And we got apples.

Golden Delicious....

And Fuji.....

And Arkansas Black

And they are beautiful. And very good. And you can actually eat the peelings because they are not covered in wax. And summer is captured in each sweet, juicy, crisp mouthful.

And later in the week, for the corporate Thanksgiving celebration, I will make Apple Custard Enchiladas. I started to type the recipe from the page I tore out of a 1999 issue of Women's Circle magazine, but after I made several mistakes in the amounts of ingredients, I thought I better see if it was available on-line. And, besides, unlike Sidewalk Shoes, I do not take beautiful pictures of food.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Send Me an Angel...

I usually get out of bed at 5 a.m. and I am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed; in other words, about 10 seconds after my feet hit the floor, I am fully powered up and ready to go. I've always been a "morning person." I don't need a cup of high-octane coffee -- although it certainly tastes good -- to get the engine revved up and going.


But not yesterday morning.

I was really tired Thursday night, so at about 9:30, I kissed Richard goodnight and went to bed in the spare bedroom.

I did not sleep very well. Here in the center of southern Missouri, we are not quite through that transition stage between the heat and humidity of the summer, where one tends to want to lay naked on the top of the sheet with no cover at all, and the dead of winter, where it is really cold outside, and serious pajamas, socks, and two or three blankets and a sleeping bag (unzipped and laid flat) to cap it all off provide a nice warm nest to snuggle down into.

It felt really cold Thursday night though (indeed, it was 15-degrees when I went out yesterday morning to liberate the cat from kitty prison). So I got all garbed out in the jammy bottoms, a knee-length flannel nightgown for the top, and socks, and got the blankets situated, and got into bed. The bed was icy cold and it gradually warmed up and felt good. And then it kept on warming up, and suddenly it was way too hot. So, off came the socks, and the pajama bottoms, and one blanket was thrown to the side.

Then I felt like I was getting a UTI. No! No! No!. Not now.... Please... So I got up and drank a cup of water with baking soda, and swallowed 4 cranberry caplets, and drank some more water to get them down, and got back to bed. And then about 30 minutes later I had to pee. And then I got back in bed. The UTI feeling started to go away, thank the Lord for that.

And eventually I fell asleep, only to wake up again at about 3 a.m. I had to pee again. My butt was cold, I was tangled up in the sheet; the blankets were in a horrible twisted mess, one of them was just about on the floor. And I now had trouble falling asleep.

And at 4 AM, through the window by the bed, I could see through the bare tree branches that the sky was crystal clear and filled with stars. Three prominent ones were framed in the window, sort of in a triangle shape. Later I looked at my star chart and think these were probably part of Canis Major. No matter...

And I found this poem by Ogden Nash...

Complaint to Four Angels

Every night at sleepy-time
Into bed I gladly climb.
Every night anew I hope
That with the covers I can cope.

Adjust the blanket fore and aft,
Swallow next a soothing draught;
Then a page of Scott or Cooper
May induce a healthful stupor.

O the soft luxurious darkness,
Fit for Morgan, or for Harkness!
Traffic dies along the street.
The light is out. So are your feet.

Adjust the blanket aft and fore,
Sigh, and settle down once more.
Behold, a breeze! The curtains puff.
One blanket isn't quite enough.

Yawn and rise and seek your slippers,
Which, by now, are cold as kippers.
Yawn, and stretch, and prod yourself,
And fetch a blanket from the shelf.

And so to bed again, again,
Cozy under blankets twain.
Welcome warmth and sweet nirvana
Till eight o'clock or so manana.

You sleep as deep as Keats or Bacon;
Then you dream and toss and waken.
Where is the breeze? There isn't any.
Two blankets, boy, are one too many.

O stilly night, why are you not
Consistent in your cold and hot?
O slumber's chains, unlocked so oft
With blankets being donned or doffed!

The angels who should guard my bed
I fear are slumbering instead.
O angels, please resume your hovering;
I'll sleep, and you adjust the covering.

This is the mood I was in yesterday (in case the embedded video hasn't embedded)..

Part of the problem Thursday was that I was upset about our son. Most of the time with our son, we both feel like we are in one of those log-rolling competitions where the lumberjack types try to keep their footing on this spinning log in the water. We can't figure out what goes through his mind when he does the stuff he does. It drives us nuts. We maintain our cool most of the time, but occasionally, well, we just fall off. That happened Thursday. It was something dumb and we stewed about it all day long, and we had a discussion with him when he came home from work.

And yesterday we felt an overwhelming need for comfort food. And we picked ourselves up and got back on the log...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our Computer Guru Gets an Upgrade

Remember floppy disks?

Once upon a time, computer stuff used to come on floppy disks of various sizes and shapes. If my memory serves -- and it doesn't always these days -- the first computer we had didn't even have a hard drive, for cryin' out loud, and it worked off of one of these 5.25-inch floppies.

And then the floppies improved. They were a little sturdier and could hold more data. And then came CD-ROMS and thumb drives and.... who needs a floppy any more?

We don't. But, because of Richard's tendency to stock up and buy in quantity when the price is right, we have a nice supply of floppy disks on hand that we will never, ever use--although we still do have disk drives on our computer that will take a 3.5-inch disk.

Todd is the guy who set up our computer network and fixes the computers when something goes wrong. Todd has received many phone calls from us pleading for help to fix computer catastrophes. The other day, we got a plea for help from him, for a change. He needed some floppy disks for something. So Richard was happy to give him a few.

In the past, our Knight in Shining Armor would come bumping up the driveway in an old, beat-up Volvo.

This time, we were surprised to see him hop out of a smart-looking white van, complete with a nicely done business logo on the side. Todd likes frogs, too. I haven't been able to figure out a way to work "frog" or "toad" into my business name.

One doesn't normally think of computer repair requiring enough substantial equipment to make a van a necessary tool of the trade. Ah, but this van has another job in addition to ferrying Todd on his rescue missions.

Todd and Jackie, his partner, need the van for their other business. Jackie used to be a paramedic on the local ambulance. In fact, when our son was training to be an EMT, he went with her on the ambulance.

She retired and helps Todd at the shop answering the phones and what not. And she also breeds and shows dogs. Big dogs. Big dogs that they bring to work with them at the computer shop every day.

Big dogs that they take to dog shows.

Big dog shows.

How big are they? Big.

Jackie wanted a few pictures of Beren, also known as AKC Champion Beren's Hope of Thorn Hill.

Promise, his half sister--whoops, that should be Luthians Promise of Patorama--wanted to come too. She is also a champion, but she had gotten into the mud and was dirty. Jackie did not want pictures of a dirty dog.

"No!" Jackie said. "You have to stay here."

So off we went.

And Jackie tried to get him stacked on the bench, which was sort of narrow. And it took a while.

And he fell off.

And he got repositioned.

And repositioned some more... and he kept moving and she finally gave up and said...

Ok! We're as ready as we will ever be. Now, Beren. Look up here.... Snap... Snap... Here.... "You know," she says, "it is really hard taking pictures of animals. Call his name!"

Beren! BEREN!!! Over here.... Good dog... Good dog. Hold it.... Hold it....

And then we decided to quit while we were ahead and walked back to the shop. And there they were looking for us.

And how much are those doggies in the window?

A lot. I mentioned in the last post I probably wouldn't be getting a Lab. I won't be getting one of these either. I could probably by a good used car for the price of one of these puppies, and besides, our house isn't big enough!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I judge a book by its cover...

I'm a sucker for beautiful photographs of fruits and vegetables.

This was one of the most beautiful calendars I had ever seen. Last year, Richard framed each of the 12 pictures...

and presented them to me for my birthday.

I loved this calendar so much that I had reused it year after year, just changing the dates each year in the little squares when the New Year arrived.

Every year the dates moved long one square until eventually, they caught up...

and it was correct again.

So I was perusing the "Recent Arrivals" shelf at the library and spotted this book...

with an appealing title and a beautiful picture of apricots. I couldn't resist. A book with a great title and a great picture on the cover had to be great. Right?

Well. It's a matter of opinion. Some people really liked it. Apparently, a lot of people. But not me.

So what's the matter with me? I dunno... I guess I am marching to my own little drummer because it didn't sit too well on my literary plate (I can't believe I just wrote that)

It's not a bad book; I just don't particularly like her style of writing. So I read about a third of it and took it back.

I am also a sucker for dogs and books about dogs. I got this book one for my birthday.

I loved it. I will probably read it again and then donate it to the library so that someone else can enjoy it. I am looking for a dog, but I don't think I'm going to get a Lab. He really was a very bad dog.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Book Lady and Me...

This is my friend Judy, who I usually see 3 times a week at the aerobics class.

Earlier in the week, she wondered if I might like to go out for coffee. I certainly did, only instead of coffee...

it morphed into lunch at Bull's Cafe, which has recently moved into what was formerly... uhhh... another cafe that changed names several times and then went out of business.

Mr Bull is an interesting looking fellow, but I did not take his picture. He is bald, but he is a young man and so I am sure he shaves his head. He has tattoos on the back of his head. He has tattoos on his neck. He has many colorful tattoos on his arms. I imagine he also has tattoos on other parts of his body.

I was pleased to find that having tattoos did not interfere at all with his ability to cook. I was going to order a Reuben. I usually always order a Reuben if I am going to order a sandwich in a restaurant; in fact, in anticipation of ordering a Reuben, I brought along a jar of horseradish because I have found that most restaurants do not offer horseradish as an option. The horseradish is in the tote bag, which can be seen hanging on my arm in the reflection in the window of the restaurant.

But then.... but then.... I saw Philly cheese steak on the menu. It has been several years since I have eaten one. I changed my mind about the Reuben.

Mr Bull makes a mean Philly cheese steak.

I call Judy the Book Lady because Richard doesn't remember names very well and it is easier for him to remember who I am talking about. She and her husband owned a bookstore in Indiana, and when they retired, they brought all their books with them when they moved here. They set up a book barn at their house, which has many, many books, some of which they offer for sale on the Internet.

Among other similar interests, Judy and I share a love of books. Judy brings books for me to read, which I give back. I bring books for her to read, which she gives back.

It is good to have this woman for a friend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gettin’ the job done...

Because this is a rural area, many of the businesses that advertise in the newspapers and on the radio are selling products of interest to farmers, most of whom raise beef cattle or have dairy operations, and other rural hobbyists who have some land and keep horses, or a few pigs, or sheep, or goats or...whatever....

Most of the time I just ignore these advertisements in the newspaper, but it is a little harder to ignore them on the radio, especially when the advertisement for Hirshfield Farm Supply is broadcast. The jingle in that one sets off a persistent earworm that is very hard to get rid of. I always try to make sure I am not listening to the classic rock station when it comes time for that particular ad to be broadcast.

I saw this one in a dairy supplement that came with the newspaper. It cracked me up. It is for some sort of monitor that the farmer can put on the cow to well.... keep tabs on her.... and him....

I couldn't resist the urge to cut it out and keep it for posterity. It has been taped to the wall by the bedroom since 1999. I immediately thought of Donna, who has been having trouble getting her Jersey cow bred. She (the cow, not Donna) spent some time with the bull, so now they will have to wait and see.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Phone home...

My dad has a certain routine that never varies, except in extraordinary circumstances.

He gets up at about 4:45 AM and checks to see if my mom is OK. If she happens to be awake, he takes care of anything she needs.

Then he sits in this chair in the living room and prays for a while, and she dozes off back to sleep for another hour or so.

He puts a small television on the dining room table and turns it to the local news. He prepares a bowl of yogurt with fruit, ground flax seed, and maybe wheat germ. He makes the yogurt himself out of powdered milk; has done for years. He gets out his stack of crossword puzzles and works on the one from the day before that he hasn't quite finished.

He eats his yogurt and works away until the newspaper arrives. He goes outside and gets it. He starts the coffee brewing.

He gets some coffee. He cuts out the crossword puzzle, and also the sudoku puzzle, which my mom works. He finds the daily racing form in the sports section for whatever area track is running that day (Hollywood Park, Santa Anita, or Del Mar) and picks the horses in each race that he thinks will win. He does not believe in gambling; he has always loved to watch the horses run, but does not bet on the races (horses don't bet on people, he says).

He makes my mom's breakfast and gets her squared away. He turns off the television and...

reads the paper. I mean, he really does read all the articles. It takes him probably an hour to do this.

And then he does the household chores.

He keeps the kitchen very neat and tidy.

On Saturday the routine changes a bit. He doesn't watch the TV because the news isn't on. But the main thing is that he always calls me between 8 and 9 AM (which is between 10 and 11 AM my time). Only last Saturday at about 10 AM, Richard asked if I wanted to go to the salvage store. Yes. I did. So we left.

We have an answering machine. In fact, it is a new one and I recorded a nice new message about a week ago, so it's no big deal if we aren't here, right? Dad calls, he leaves a message, I call back.

The electric power here fluctuates quite a bit. We have frequent brown-outs that are not strong enough to dim the lights but do register on the power supply devices that are hooked up to the computers, which "kick in" for a couple of seconds before going back to normal. On Friday, we had one of these brown outs in which we actually lost power for about a second. None of the other electronic devices lost their settings, but the answering machine did because Richard forgot to put a battery in it when he set it up.

The message I recorded was wiped out, which left a weird computer voice saying the default message "At tone, leave message."

But I didn't know this.

So we get back from the salvage store and there are 5 messages on the machine. The first is from my dad who is not sure he has the right number and is wondering what the heck is going on. The next 3 are just background talking with no message left at all. I guess they kept dialing my number thinking they had dialed the wrong one. I know it is from them because my Aunt Vera has arrived there for a visit I can hear her voice in the background offering an opinion. My dad then called my sister to tell her the problem, so the final message is from her, asking me to please call Dad (if this is actually our house) because he is worried and to fix the message on the answering machine.

So I did. I phoned home. And I fixed the message.


Saturday, November 08, 2008


When these two yahoos aren't pretending to be cowgirls and cuttin' up in front of the camera, they are students at Cal State University Long Beach. To be cousins and friends at the same time is a wonderful thing. They don't have classes together, but they do meet for lunch during the week. One of the perks of going to CSULB is that there is a beautiful Japanese garden with a large koi pond, which is free and open to the public.

The cowgirl on the right is Adrie, my sister's daughter, and the young woman on the left is Rebekah.

Her daddy, my brother Daniel, is the guy in the front there on the right who is looking quite distinguished these days with the silver in his beard and sideburns.

And this Deborah, her momma. Some day I will have to write about how important Deborah has been to our family. I believe the hand on the right belongs to my sister, or it could be Rebekah's hand. They both have long, beautiful fingers.

Debbie has a knack for getting things done and finding things out, and especially getting information out of doctors and arranging for things to "happen." My mom probably would have died in the nursing home from lack of attention if Debbie had not been on top of things. But that's another story.

The three of them took me to the pier at Manhattan Beach on the Saturday I was there, but I didn't get any pictures of that event on my camera because I left the camera at home. There is a neat little educational aquarium at the end of the pier where they do programs for school children. It happened to be open Saturday morning, and it was fun to see the exhibits.

But that's another story also. This story is actually about how Jerry, and Jennifer, and I cruised on down to CSULB in Jerry's 1952 Chevy on Sunday to see the Japanese garden and the koi (remember the them?).

So, Jerry was born in 1952 and he had a hankerin' for a car from that year. And he found one; a beauty with 41,000 original miles on it.

He bought it, and the owner's son shipped it out to California from Tennessee, complete with the invoice and the canceled check from 1952. If you click on the picture, you can see some of the details of the original invoice on the car. They charged for the tires. Fascinating.

And Jerry set to work fixing it up, and he did a beautiful job.

It is an interesting experience to go crusin' in a classic car. People stop and stare. They turn their heads to watch you go by. They wave. They smile. You can see their mouths move as they say "Wow, that brings back some memories." I had my own little set of memories -- Jerry's car reminded me a lot of my own grandpa's 1952 Pontiac.

Richard's father had a 1952 Chevy.

Men know their cars, Richard says. Men remember their cars. I can tell you every car I ever had.

And indeed he can. His first car was a 1947 Ford with a 1941 Ford front end, and then he had a 1949 Ford, and a 1955 Chevy... and so it goes.

When we got to the Japanese Garden, we saw that there had been a day-long chrysanthemum flower show that was going to close in 20 minutes.

So we didn't have to pay to get in, but many of the flowers were still on display.

Some were huge and very exotic, nothing at all like the pots of flowers one sees for sale at the local stores in the fall.

They were all very beautiful.

As were the koi, some of which were also huge. The koi reproduce themselves quite readily in this pond, so there were all sizes, and different varieties too. Some with long fins, some with short fins.

And we visited with a professor at the college who told us everything we wanted to know about the koi.

And then we cruised on back to Jennifer's house.

And I just realized that I mentioned Andrew's wife Donna the last time I posted, but I didn't include her in the pictures so... there she is sitting next to Rebekah.