Monday, September 29, 2014

Seasonal Things

Last April, I think, I posted on Facebook that I’d just enjoyed the first hot fudge sundae of the season. Some of my friends found that amusing. They didn’t consider a hot fudge sundae a “seasonal” thing. And they were right. These days we can have any treat any time. But, wait a minute.

We have four seasons around here, right? And the leaves don’t turn orange in the spring or the crocus pop up in December. So there’s a kind of timetable that nature keeps and I tend to keep it, too. That gets me thinking of my kitchen counters.

I ran to CVS last week and, because Halloween is the next big thing and the candy is on sale, I bought two bags. When I got home I dumped some of each, Snickers and Mounds, into a glass bowl and set them on the counter. I do the same in the spring for Easter candy and it lends a festive air to the kitchen.

When my kids were all in school there were autumn and winter days when the urge would come over me to make sticky buns. It happened four or five times a season and  my reward was great. As soon as they’d hit the door I’d hear, “Sticky buns!”  They sat on the counter, three pans of them, all gooey and sending out cinnamon in waves. The two oldest sons, in high school,  got home before their younger brother and I’d have to fight to keep a few for him. That fresh gallon of milk I’d just bought would likely be half gone by three thirty, too. My sticky buns were awesome.

At Christmastime there are smudges of chocolate and remnants of crushed walnuts on the counter.  It’s the season for my choco-caramel delights. These are a small chocolate butter cookie rolled in walnuts, filled with caramel and drizzled with chocolate. I only make them in December. They are much loved. I leave a small  sample plate of them on the counter and the rest get frozen for cookie tins. I’m almost famous for these cookies and they’re a mark of the season. That and the bowl of candy canes.  

I change the mugs on my mug rack at Christmas, too. It sits on the counter next to the stove. An odd assortment usually hangs there, but in honor of the holiday a whole other odd assortment occupies the thing. My favorite is the holly mug.

I could go on and on and tell you about the fresh veggies that sit in the colander in early summer. Or the loaf of warm from the oven bread waiting on the cutting board just the other day. Sometimes a precious trinket awaits re-claiming by the grandchild who’s left it at the house. It sits on the piece of counter closest to the back door.  

So you see, all things in their season. Kind of like in Ecclesiastics where it says . . . “to everything there is a season.” Yeah, and it was a 60’s song, too, by the – hmmm – anybody remember?

Anyway, just some Monday thoughts. Have a super week.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Friday, September 26, 2014

She Comforts

Still down with the cold, lots of coughing, so I’m offering this repeat from when I first began blogging. Thanks.

When Angels Speak

Last week I had the delightful duty of watching two of my granddaughters for a couple of hours. The older one is six and the younger three. Nick Jr. happened to be on with an episode of Franklin where the theme was getting lost. I looked at the oldest granddaughter, busy doing cartwheels,  and began telling the story of how I got lost once when I was about her age.

It was the first day of school after we had moved and Mom walked me to school in the morning. She had two younger children to tend and she thought I could make my own way home for lunch. We lived in a very small town so there was no reason for her to think otherwise. She gave precise instructions as we walked telling me to turn right when I got to the corner and walk straight down the street to our apartment above the gas station. I felt all grown up and was sure I could do it. When lunchtime came I got to the corner, became confused and turned the wrong way - left.  I soon noticed that nothing looked like it had that morning and as I went up the incline panic slowly set in. I began crying and calling for my mother and soon became terrified thinking surely I was lost for good.

As I poured out my story telling the girls how scared I’d been, the three year old walked over quietly and looked up at me with soulful blue eyes. “I will be with you,” she said. I looked at her and smiled. Then she patted my shoulder and hugged my arm. “Don’t be scared, Grandma. I will be with you.” 

If anyone  thinks God doesn’t speak through children . . . I feel very sorry for them.

Photo: Melodi a few years ago in her new ride. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Got Cold?

Well, I’ve got a stinking cold. Ugh. A few days ago I had a bit of a rough throat upon awakening and I hoped it wasn’t the start of something big. Hopes were dashed this morning when the aches and deep cough got worse. Double ugh.

While I was unpacking the dishwasher (still gotta do the chores) I suddenly thought of my dad. He’s been gone many years but I still remember some of his cold remedies. I’m sure they were the same ones his step-mom used on him and we’re talking the Great Depression times. No Nyquil or extra strength Tylenol for those people, no siree.

But they did have milk toast. Ha! You thought that was just a snarly term for wimp, didn’t you? Anyway, when one of us kids was laid low we could always count on milk toast. Dad would butter a piece of toast, lay it in a plate, add a little salt and pepper then cover it with hot milk. He brought it to us right away and sometimes it was cut into bits. You had to eat it before it got completely soggy but it tasted pretty good. Another bit of good was his solicitous attitude, kind of rare, but I also wondered if Mom thought milk toast was of no use so he had to act like it was. A mystery for the ages.

And then there was  Vicks vapo rub. That got massaged into our chests and striped under our noses every time a stray sneeze or random cough was heard. Sometimes a glob of it was poked up each nostril causing us to wince. Orange juice and lots of it was another miracle cure and so was a cool washcloth across the forehead.  

Maybe the truth of the matter is that love while you’re suffering avaiileth much. Sorry about the ancient language there. I’ve just always loved “availeth much” and use it whenever I can. It’s usually preceded by “The prayers of a good man . . .” and comes from the Bible. A modified version might read “the milk toast of Dad availeth much,” but I could be over thinking here.  

But the next time you have a cold – and I promise not to give you mine – I hope there’s a milk toast, Vicks and an orange juice pusher who cares about you and will see you through it. Mine is gone, but the memory of Dad and his remedies may be enough. I have to report that I’ve survived every cold I’ve ever had.

Oops, I just coughed on the keyboard. Hope you don’t catch anything. But if  you do at least you’ve got a few things to try now. Right?

Image: Mister GC                                               Free Digital Photos

Monday, September 22, 2014

Jumble, Yard or Tag

And in South America they probably have a name for it, too. You know, when you gather all the “stuff” from the back of the closet, the basement, and the attic and put it on public display? And hope that strangers buy it. I’ll bet you’ve been there and done that, huh? Hoping to make enough for a trip to Paris or at least a jaunt to the Stewarts around the corner for ice cream.

That’s how I spent my weekend. It was a family affair. I scurried about the house for the better part of a week boxing up goodies. I could be heard mumbling bits like, “Well somebody will be thrilled to get this at such a price!” Treasure after treasure went into the boxes and I was dancing. The Money song from Cabaret had me twirling. Cha-ching!  Yup, me and Liza Minnelli doing our thing.

I promised our nine-year-old granddaughter I’d contribute to her bake sale. I made toffee candy, vanilla cupcakes and blueberry muffins. She got top billing at the front of the lawn and did okay. One happy Anna.

What a cross cut of American society is the tag sale. As it happens, the local Lions Club was having their sale just across the street so we benefited from their efforts. Anyone coming down the road this past Saturday hit the jackpot if they were looking for bargains.

Like – the older women who are shopping for grandkids. They went right by my tables. So did the young mothers. They wanted toys and clothes. One of them was so moved by the glory of all the great toys she popped her head up long enough to say, “This is the best tag sale I’ve ever been to!” We, the purveyors of junk, simply smiled. It’s why we do this.

Another young woman came with her surly husband who did not want to part with fifty cents for two stuffed toys. An altercation arose and he marched back to their truck. Salty language filled the air and she stood her ground until he came back. He parted with his brass and off they went. Just before they took their leave, she shook my hand and told me her name. Weird. Oh – parting with your brass is a term that goes along with jumble. A tag sale in Britain is a jumble.

Around two o’clock on the second day my enthusiasm began to wane. And so did the shoppers. Nothing we had seemed to interest them so we began packing up. That’s when the young girl appeared at our sale with a few bucks from dad to spend. She grabbed the bags of Barbies (three dolls, clothes and accessories for $3). Such a deal. Kate looked at her dear young face and offered her a grocery bag. “Give me two more dollars and you can fill this up,” she said. Joy rang through the heavens on that child’s face.

It’s why we do this.

So – How was your weekend?  

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What to Watch For

Sometimes you’re blindsided. In an ordinary day something extraordinary happens and it thrills or breaks you – touches you in a spot that’s normally buried or suppressed.

Tuesdays are kid day for me. I watch my 3 yr. old granddaughter in the afternoon until we get her big sister off the bus and then I have them both. Yesterday after lunch Sierra and I sat on the bed to read some of her favorite stories, one of which is Cinderella. We’ve gone down this fairytale path many times and I suggested we look for the movie online.

You know how I love You Tube and that’s where we found her. Some clips from the Disney version. The one where the mice rise up and decide to make their beloved Cinderelly a dress for the ball. Now, I have to tell you, when I was Sierra’s age I loved this story above all others. Mom had to read it to me almost every nap time. It fed my young imagination and may be one of the reasons I write now. Anyway, as the mice sang and the dress became a reality, I got all misty eyed. I was suddenly in the realm of extreme sentimentality and I was four again. I could barely grasp the beauty of sixty years passing and re-living my own naptime with my granddaughter on my knee. I looked into her sparkling blue eyes and felt a rush of pure love.

Then, this morning I opened my Facebook page and found this from my sister Pam. She must love Les Miserables, the musical, as much as I do. This flash mob was a theater company singing One Day More. It’s one of my faves. There in the mall one man steps into an open space and begins. Then seemingly random shoppers join him. All around the real random shoppers stop to listen. I sat mesmerized as one by one these individual with amazing voices joined the throng to belt out their feelings about what would horribly happen the very next day. It hit me just like it hit the onlookers, suddenly, wonderfully and with rising emotion. And thunderous applause rang out as the song ended and the ordinariness of life at the mall resumed.

These are moments to look for in every day. They can be bright bits of Heaven or brief glimpses of Hell. Perhaps it’s not possible to watch for them as that would diminish the wonder. But sometimes, just before the strike, our senses go on full alert and we’re caught up in reverie or revelation. Both shape our lives profoundly.

What has happened to you lately?  

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pumpkins, Apple Pie and Kick the Can

I’ve tried real hard to keep summer in my heart, but the natural order of things is messing me up. Like the pumpkins from our garden. In the spring Farmer John (aka hubby) bought a packet of seeds called Halloween Mix and planted them. There was plenty of room for the things to grow and boy did they. In the mix were several white pumpkins - not quite sure I like them. But now that they’re all picked of course they pull my mind to all things autumn.

Even though winter follows I’m always happy to bring out all the fall decorations. Last Tuesday while I was clearing out the attic, I hauled out the plastic storage box full of the stuff. Sierra, three, helped. Out came the bear figurines adorned with tiny pumpkins, squash and their fall hats. Out came the Indian corn that I’ve somehow kept intact for several years. Felt pumpkins from the dollar store, ceramic ones for the mantel and the scarecrow napkin holder. Up it all went around the house. We even found an old Dracula Pez dispenser.

Naturally this got me thinking of all the season brings in the way of food. Since our kids were going to be helping with the new patio installation this weekend, I told them I’d cook. A huge lasagna, garlic bread (mine is superb), and a robust salad with the last of the garden tomatoes and cukes became the menu. The daughters –in-law brought apple goodies, pie and a crisp. We lit some candles for atmosphere. There was even a jug of pumpkin ale to test.

And then after supper, Melodi, six, asked if we could play Kick the Can. Well, how fun is that old game? There were six of us who were up for it. All the kids, oldest son, Eric, and me (aka the tortoise). It was dusk so we didn’t have a lot of time. The can kicker, the guard (otherwise know at “it”) and the rest of us set to. Sam was a fierce guard. I tried my best to draw him away from the can, but he tagged me out in jig time. Then Eric and the two youngest, Sierra and Melodi, teamed up. Tough call. The tortoise got tagged almost immediately and the rest soon followed. I think we played longer than we supposed we would.

Time zoomed by. School day tomorrow. The kitchen needed cleaning up, the air had a nip and the game had to be called. Funny how in the midst of family fun and frolic the whole bad world seems to fade. There’s just you and the players, pumpkins and lasagna and apple crisp. What a delight to roll into autumn in just this way.

I pray the same for you even if it comes in only a bright, brief moment or two.

Image: Free Digital Photos 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Burden of Imagination

I’ve been blogging for a while now and  every so often someone will ask where I get my ideas. This question usually comes from a person who hates to write. Okay, maybe they’d sign their name to the Prize Patrol check, but other than that it’s a no go. So, I smile and try to explain.

And here’s where the temptation  to answer in an outrageous manner comes in. I want to say things like:

“This morning? I looked under the bed and there were six ideas skulking there. They were arguing like mad about who would be the first to trot out and make my acquaintance. So, in order to prevent bloodshed, I reached under and grabbed one by the throat. I said, “YOU! Get out here, it’s  your big day.” And then I shook off the spider that rode out with the idea, sat down at the computer and got busy.”

But usually I don’t say such things because I know it can cause eyes to glaze over when I go all long winded on them like that.

Ideas come from everywhere. Like last week when I was out shopping with my retail Power Pal, Karen. We hit Kohls, Harbor Freight (for our hubbies) and right next to HF is a great little hole in the wall pizza joint called La Familia. They have 20 or so kinds of pizza on display, under glass, and we love it. We sat to savor our slabs and were very thankful to have gotten there ten minutes ahead of the mob that usually storms the door at noon.

Just as we were finishing up a nicely dressed gentleman came in. He was maybe in his early fifties, slim and graying at the temples. He went straight to the counter – not even glancing at the goods on display – and paid for his small takeout order. I watched by stealth his trip back to the exit and then he did something that made me suspicious. Instead of using the door handle he reached way up on the door frame and pushed with two fingers. Aha! I’ll bet he was one of those CIA guys and he’d reached up to plant an invisible camera or the latest doohickey in bugging technology just developed by the Pentagon.

This caused me to look around the room and wonder who he was after. Had some poor pudgy patron ordered the buffalo wing pizza instead of the veggie and the guy was from the Food Police unit of the CIA? Wait, I don’t think the Pentagon would waste a good agent that way, would they? Or could there be payoff money wedged into the crust of the ham and pineapple variety? I was willing to wager that Meathead Mulivich was on his way to claim that slice completely unaware that a camera was mug shoting him. No, that’s part of the plot of my latest mystery. But my mind was reeling as I watched the agent head straight for his silver Lexis in the parking lot.

Ahem, you see what I mean? One good looking germaphobic guy comes into the joint where Karen and I are feasting on our ranch, bacon and tomato pizza and off goes my imagination like a double barreled shotgun. It’s like a disease with me.

Be glad you don’t have outrageous imagination  syndrome like I do, it’s a real burden. And don’t even think of rooting around under my bed for ideas. I put them under lock and key and the key is snug in my . . . Hey! I’m not telling you that.

But do have a great day.  

Image: Free Digital Photos

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Transition Recipe

Today the morning air is a bit chilly and that always puts me in mind of the foods of autumn. Like beef stew, roast chicken, lasagna, warm chocolate chip cookies, and – okay – I’ve got to stop or I’ll gain two pounds just thinking of this stuff. But here’s a good transition recipe from my daughter-in-law, Heather. It’s a crockpot delight and has a summery feel, but it could get you into fall quite nicely. Served with rice it’s a keeper.

Island Kielbasa (go ahead and choose your own island – I’m going with Tahiti)

Two kielbasa cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups catsup
1 cup brown sugar (you can use ¾ if you want it less sweet)
1 can chunk pineapple with juice

Stir them  together in the crockpot and let it cook for about 4 hours.

I made this last night and didn’t have enough catsup. So I used some Peruvian sauce instead. Chili sauce would work to replace part of the catsup, too. I didn’t have rice either so I served it with some leftover parsley potatoes and buttered corn. Yum.

This will serve at least 4 people.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, September 8, 2014

School Days

Sometimes it seems as though I can look back at my whole youth simply by watching my grandchildren. They range in age from three to sixteen. And school has begun. What they’re going through now draws a slew of memories from somewhere deep in my little gray cells.

The three-year-old, Sierra, starts pre-school tomorrow. Truth be told, Sunday School was my pre-school and I remember little of it. But they do things these days that my generation had to wait until kindergarten to do. Play with wooden blocks, sit in a circle on the rug, sticks and triangles at music time and of course, recess. They sing the days of the week and examine the weather, go on field trips. Nice.

I remember getting my first pair of glasses when I was six, the same age as Melodi is now. She’s off to first grade this year. She’ll be at a desk learning to read, write and cipher (oops, I mean, do math). She learned some of that in kindergarten already. These kids are so advanced nowadays.

Speaking of glasses, Anna, who’s nine,  got hers over the summer. She looks like an American Girl doll in them, adorable. I’m glad glasses are fashionable and no one will call her “four eyes” like they did me.  It’s her first year in private school and she’s already made friends. One thing she confessed to me.

“My locker is right across the hall from the classroom door.”

“That’s good,” I said watching her face.

“Yeah, I don’t have to go down the hall and around the corner and maybe get all confused.”

She echoed my fears from long ago when I first got a locker – in seventh grade.

Lillie, ten, will be riding the same bus as her big sister, Elaina, sixteen. There’s six years between them and a small bone of contention arose when they realized they’d be together. Little sister hogging the conversation with big sister’s friends makes for some tension. I gave them some grandmotherly advise along the lines of “your sister will be with you for the next 50 – 60 years and your friends will disappear after high school.” I don’t know if it hit home, but it’s true for me. My sisters and I are closer than two ply toilet paper and I have no idea where any of my friends from high school are.

And Sam. I always tell him he’s my favorite grandson and he always says, “I’m your ONLY grandson.” But he grins when he says it. He’s dropping his saxophone playing this year. Too much mandatory practice time – 140 minutes a week. So he’ll be in chorus. Yay! I dropped viola in favor of chorus and I’m still singing. Of course he could do like his uncle Carl and simply mouth “ham and eggs,  ham and eggs” at his first concert, but I’m not going to tell him that story.

School days. Wonderful times. Bless you my grandchildren. May all go well this year.  

Image: debspoons                                              Free Digital Photos

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Hard to Find!

Several years ago, for Christmas, my grandson Sam put a small tube of hand lotion into my stocking. The fragrance was called Butterfly Flower and I. Loved. It. It really did make you feel like you were in a fragrant field of butterflies. It was light, too. Didn’t clog my sinuses. I asked his mom (okay, she’s the one who bought it as Sam was only about 5) where she got it and she told me. Well, didn’t I go to that store in the mall to buy a big bottle? Yup. And did they have it. Nope. Discontinued.

Same with white lipstick. If you’re a guy , you can stop reading right now. Anyway, I need to wear lipstick. Got addicted when I was 16 and look pale and sickly without something on my kisser. Most of the colors I prefer are a bit too dark so I like to soften them with white lipstick. Very hard to find. The last tube I bought was in the local grocery store, but when I opened it I found that halfway down the color turned to  light pink so I think it was an old one. Sheesh. Maybe if I went to a Goth website or something?

Egg beaters. Remember those? Two beaters with a wooden handle and a crank. Light and portable. Used to run about $1.99 at Woolworth’s back in the day. Wire whisks came along and knocked them out of the water. Or so I thought. Yesterday I was in Kohl’s with my friend, Karen, and there on the wall sat a modern version of the egg beaters. I grabbed it off the wall and hugged it. And then I saw the price. Ten bucks. I put it back. I’m too cheap to let nostalgia rule my buying habits.

Some old wisdom has disappeared, too. Or so it seems. Consider these.

A fool and his money are soon parted.

Waste not, want not.

Always wear clean underwear, in case you get into an accident.

I’m really careful about that last one – a clean thong every day for this gal. (KIDDING)

Any thoughts on this absorbing subject?

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Odd Bits of a Week

A few days ago I was in the grocery store – only had ten items or so – and I made a beeline for the quick checkout. Only one person was ahead of me and as I unloaded my cart the exit door swung open. A woman with a huge cart full of groceries had come back into the store for some reason looking annoyed and amused at the same time. At the bottom of her cart sat an enormous bag of dog food. I couldn’t figure out why she was coming back in until I left the store by the same exit and saw the perfect rainbow of dog food. The bag on the bottom of the cart had sprung a leak and when she came back through to ask for help a trail of multi colored nuggets was left in her wake. About two inches of Beniful in a perfect arc. It made quite a spectacle.

“Are you making catsup this year?” Farmer John asked.

“No,” I said. “I’m sick of canning. I’ll just give the tomatoes away.”

He was disappointed as was our oldest son, but homemade catsup, as good as it is, is a project and a half and I just wasn’t up to it. Maybe next year.

Our oldest granddaughter, Elaina, has just returned from Germany. Yesterday she and her sister, Lillie, were on Skype with us. They modeled the dirndl dresses Elaina found at a cheap tourist trap (her words) and now they’ll both have something to wear for Halloween this year. She was eager to impart the whole experience and I was glad to listen. I love Skype and I’m so glad my grandchildren have such rich lives.

Now I have something to confess. There was a murder in our yard on Sunday. Yup. I’d thrown down several chewed up corncobs near the birdbath in the yard.  Soon the area was black with crows. That’s what a gang of crows is called – a murder. Scared ya, didn’t I? Or maybe you knew that’s what crows in a bunch are called and are groaning at my little joke. Whatever.

Hope you have a great week with an odd bit or two to keep it interesting.

PS: The winner of the giveaway over on Karen Lange’s blog, Write Now, is Jessica Haight. Congratulations, Jessica!

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