I watched him walk across the parking lot toward the bench in front of the store where I sat, waiting for the bus. It was obvious he was not from these parts. His jeans were faded but clean and held up by a belt. His cowboy hat had seen many miles of protecting him from the sun and rain. His walked in his boots like he had been born to them. As he got closer I could see that if he had not yet passed the 80 mile marker, he was close. His face was as weathered as his hat, but many of the lines had been put there with smiles.
He stopped in front of me and said, "Excuse me, Ma'am. I have some waiting to do. Would it be alright if I sat here and waited with you?" I said I would be honored.
He wasn't a jabberjaw type of man. When he spoke in his soft drawl, he chose his words carefully. We talked of many things. We watched the people come and go. We smiled at a naughty little boy staying just out of reach of his mother and at a little girl of about three years of age who obviously had just learned to dress herself, judging by the clashing colors and gaudy accessories.
He allowed as to how he liked the world better when a man's word meant something. He said that he didn't understand why more people weren't interested in what was going on around them. And more than that, why so many didn't bother to get ready for bad times.
He apologized for being nosy, but that he couldn't help noticing that my handy dandy little old lady shopping cart was filled to the brim with bags of rice, sacks of onions and jars of peanut butter. On top was a sack full of canning lids. He said those canning lids reminded him of his mother, working all summer and fall, putting up vegetables, meat and fruit to get her family through the winter. He said that people now think that these big grocery stores will always be there, open and full of food. He said he could see that I was thinking ahead and would probably be all right, but so many wouldn't. He said it was a shame that the old ways were being forgotten, but was glad to see that some of us remembered.
I was sorry to see my bus pull into the parking lot. I never learned that man's name nor does he know mine. But I think I will be a long time remembering a conversation with a gentleman, sitting on a bench, on a beautiful summer morning.
of any real content, which I can't seem to come up with lately, I give you the following for your consideration. The blog where I stole it is no longer in existence, so I can't give credit. Perhaps in another day or two my brain cells will begin to function again and I will hop over this writer's block and get back to writing as opposed to copying. In the meantime.....
An Old Farmer's Advice
* Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight, and bull-strong.
* Keep skunks and bankers and lawyers at a distance.
* Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
* A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
* Words that soak into your ears are whispered…not yelled.
* Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.
* Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.
* Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
* It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
* You cannot unsay a cruel word.
* Every path has a few puddles.
* When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
* The best sermons are lived, not preached.
* Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen, anyway.
* Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
* Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
* Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
* Don’t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t botherin’ you none.
* Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
* If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
* Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
* The biggest troublemaker you’ll ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin'.
* Always drink upstream from the herd.
* Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
* Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.
* If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.
* Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.
* Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
My computer is on life support. It has been doing really weird things for a while, and then it decided I didn't need to post here any more. So after fiddling with it, cleaning about a pound and a half of cat hair out of it's innards, I'm trying again.
I will be replacing this old girl this week, with any kind of luck. Because she jumps all over the place while I try to type, deletes typing on a whim or just ignores what I want to do, I won't fight with her any more. I don't have that kind of patience. She is lucky that I haven't already dropped her out of a second story window into the alley.
I will be back when I have a computer that does what I want it to do and not what it feels like doing when it feels like doing it.
In the meantime, I believe I will go soothe my shattered nerves with a lovely bowl of ice cream topped with strawberries. Hurrah for comfort food!
I couldn't get down to the basement where the washers and dryers are located. Or what if there was no electricity and I ran out of clean knickers. How would I handle that?
I've been experimenting with several "What If" situations lately. For a few weeks I couldn't get to the basement and I've been washing by hand what I needed, but what if there was a prolonged period of time where hand washing of clothes was necessary. Rinsing out items in the sink isn't good enough.
I think at one time or another we've all seen the videos of various methods of doing laundry in a grid down situation. I have buckets. I have a new - never been used plunger. So I gave it a shot. I cheated by using tap water as I didn't want to mess with my stored water. And I found the bucket - plunger method works. The clothes came out as clean as if they had been washed in an automatic washer.
I've been making my own laundry soap for years. I can make 3 gallons, enough for 60 washer loads, for about a dollar. The only drawback is storing 3 gallons of laundry soap. I found a recipe for powdered laundry soap that I decided to try. It is basically the same ingredients as the liquid, minus the water. Here's the recipe:
2 cups finely grated Fels Naptha bar soap
1 cup washing soda
1 cup Borax
Combine and run through a food processor or blender to break the grated Fels Naptha down into powdered form and further combine. Use 1 Tablespoon per washer load or 2 Tablespoons for extra dirty clothes.
One recipe will fit into a quart jar. That works better for me storage-wise than does 3 gallons of liquid, and it works just as well.
I need a better way to wring water out of the clothes. I'm thinking that one of those yellow janitorial mob buckets with the attached piece that is used to wring water out of a mop might work. I could probably use the bucket for washing and rinsing and the attachment for wringing.
Now all I need is one of those wooden drying racks - the ones with a framework on each side with dowels running across. I think I know where I can get both the bucket and the rack. Seems to me it is worth a try, especially when stairs are my enemy.
I chuckled to myself this morning when I checked Facebook to see if Youngest Son had posted any more vacation pictures. He had.
They are in San Diego. His comment was "This place is beautiful. I think my kids would like to call it home!" Earlier, he said he wasn't thrilled with the $4.19 gas prices. David and Staci work so hard. I'm glad to see them relaxing and enjoying themselves with their children.
Last evening was relatively quiet for a 4th of July. The main fireworks display at Valley Fair is a few miles away, and I could see some of it from my window, but had none of the crowds and traffic. In fact, the town pretty much emptied out about dusk.
Except next to my building.
I had just curled up on the couch to read for a while, about 10 PM, when a series of small explosions got my attention. The explosions were followed by laughter. And more explosions. And more laughter. Of course I had to mutter the obligatory "Darned kids!" Sounded like the noise was coming from the alley between my building and the one next door. Finally I got up to take a look.
Here in the middle of the alley were two boys about 15 years of age. They had a bag of fireworks and were setting them off, one by one. Some had a little bit of sparkly effect and others just went "Boom." The sound bounced off the walls of the buildings making sort of an echo. They would set off something from their bag, and then laugh with delight. Repeat. Repeat. They were having so much fun with their little fireworks stash that I couldn't get mad at them. I watched them for a little while, smiling at their antics. I figure there are a lot worse things 15 year old boys could be doing on a pleasant summer evening. After about a half hour their supply ran out and off they went.
I'm going to have to kick the canning into high gear. I think I have more empty jars than full ones and I am running out of places to stack them. I need more hamburger and turkey for sure. And a couple of cases of Amish Coleslaw. The recipe comes from Jackie Clay, and it is delicious. I either drain it and mix with mayo for a regular coleslaw, or I use it as a relish. Love the stuff. Here's the recipe:
1 - 1/2 cups vinegar
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. mustard seed
2 tsp. salt
1 large head cabbage
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onions
2 cups shredded carrots
Mix vinegar, sugar, and seasonings. Mix with vegetables. Stir very well. Pack into sterile jars and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
Note: You can shred the cabbage if you like. I chop it and the other vegetables fairly fine because I like to use this as a relish sometimes. I have also tossed in a few chopped green peppers and adjusted the ingredients accordingly.
I have goofed off long enough. On to the fun stuff, like shampooing the carpet. (Yuck) The cat will disappear for a couple of hours at the sound of the shampooer and the dogs will hide in their kennels, but I expect they will forgive me about suppertime.
So yesterday Youngest Daughter made a grocery store run for me. Strawberries were on sale and she brought me 6 quarts. Five of those are hulled, cut in half and in the freezer. I am leaning toward making strawberry jam with them, but I think I will wait and see if they go on sale again before using them. The other quart is in the fridge, minus a bowl I ate last evening. I love fresh strawberries.
Hamburger was on sale as well, and she brought me 18 lbs. This morning I browned all of it, drained it and packed it into pint jars. One pound of hamburger fills one narrow mouth pint jar. When I first started canning hamburger I added liquid - either beef broth or water - to each jar, but I wasn't happy with the results. It sort of reminded me of dog food and that's where most of it wound up. But canning it without adding liquid gives me hamburger that looks and tastes like I had just cooked it. All 18 jars are merrily bubbling away in my pressure canner.
Note: If you are thinking about starting to can your own food, and you are looking to buy a pressure canner, get the biggest one that you can. I am told that the best brand is the All American. The big advantage is that the All American doesn't need a rubber gasket where other brands do. But for me, the price was prohibitive.
The first pressure canner I bought when I started canning again about 4 years ago, was a 16-quart Presto, bought at Walmart for around $60. It has been a workhorse and I have had no problems with it. It holds 9 pint jars or 8 quart jars. For Christmas last year, Oldest Son gave me a 22-quart Mirro that holds 18 pint jars or 8 quart jars, having a divider that makes it possible to stack two layers of pints. When I have a large amount of food to can and am using pint jars, this cuts my time in half. It is getting a workout, and so far, I really like this canner as well.
Being housebound does have its advantages. In the winter I rarely go out by choice. This chubby old woman just doesn't ice skate as well as I used to, and the thought of slipping and sliding on ice covered sidewalks is not pleasant. And the cold isn't much fun, either. Add being housebound part of this spring and summer and I have the perfect opportunity to see just how much of my food storage I had used between Christmas and the present. I had taken an inventory the first of the year, so I know what I had. I know what I ran out of and what is running low. And now I know how much of each item I need for one years worth, which is my goal.
Tomorrow morning I will wash the jars of hamburger, label them with the date and add them to my shelves. Every little bit is one step closer to having what I want to have put back. Eighteen jars of hamburger may not seem like much, but it's a start.
I have always been a fairly independent person. Unless moving a refrigerator or a piano is involved, I try to do what needs to be done by myself.
I am no longer young, but my mind is still in fairly good working order. I manage my own finances. Under normal circumstances I do my own shopping. I clean my own apartment. I do my own laundry. I haul out my own trash. Unlike some of my vintage that I have seen, I do not spend my days with a remote in my hand. I am into being as prepared as possible for whatever comes along, so I can and dehydrate food and little by little, stock up on other needed supplies. I have hobbies that keep me interested. I have pets that keep me smiling. I usually take care of myself pretty well.
My kids have been really good to see that my needs are taken care of. One will call and tell me they are going to the Farmer's Market and what would I like them to pick up for me. Other times when something like a bad cold keeps me home, they will pick up a few groceries for me and drop them off. If I need to go somewhere that I can't get to by bus, they are more than willing to take me there. I have good kids.
I will not here go into a litany of physical complaints. Anyone who reads regularly knows what they are, for I have been known to whine now and again. This spring and summer, however, have been a bear. It has been one thing right after another. I have been dealing with arthritis since age 15. By now I know that no matter how many pretty little pills my doctor prescribes, it isn't going away. I will have good days and bad days, but it is not going away.
Asking for help with anything is one of the toughest things for me. I hate it. But a couple of days ago, my youngest daughter read me the riot act. Poor thing, she called me right after I had spent a considerable amount of time trying to shove swollen feet into shoes, with no success. I was grumpy. When she asked what was wrong, I told her. Wouldn't have, had I not been in such a foul mood, I suppose, but there you are.
That's when she reminded me that I have grown children who are happy to help. And she let me know in no uncertain terms that they can't help if I don't tell them when I need help. I'm not sure, but I believe I have been verbally spanked.
So, with help from my offspring (I thank God every single day for them.), we will work out a plan for the bad days. Ideally, I should live in an apartment either on ground floor or where there are elevators. My landlord has talked about installing a chair lift device on the front stairs. I will talk with him about that, because I really don't want to move. My bank is within sight of my building. The bus stop is less than half a block away. The post office and library are within two blocks. Everything I need is right here.
The stairs are the big problem right now. Going down is easy. Coming back up - not so much. In any event, some decisions will be made soon. And I will work on asking for help when necessary. But I will still hate it that I have to do so.
So last evening I'm sitting in my chair with a skein of yarn and a crochet hook in hand. I have made a bunch of afghans and am tired of them. I decided I needed a throw rug for my living room. The last rugs I bought at Target fell apart the first time I washed them, so I decided to try my hand at crocheting one. I think it will look kinda cool when finished.
Anyway, I'm crocheting away, soothing music is playing and all is well in my world. Right up to the time I hear a ruckus outside my window. Nosy person that I am, I get up and sneak a peek through the window blinds. Sure enough. There in the middle of the street are two guys who have obviously extended Happy Hour far beyond an hour.
These two geniuses are nose to nose. One is hollering, "You hit like a school girl." The other responds, "Don't you ever say that to me." Round and round they go until before long both are on the ground, trying to beat the tar out of one another. Their friends try to pull them apart, but give it up after a while and just let them go. The whole time they are still yelling, "You hit like a school girl," and "Don't you ever say that to me." Both are too drunk to do any real damage.
About this time a cop car pulls up. Two officers get out and survey the scene. They stand and watch these mental giants for a minute and then wade in. One scoops up "You hit like a school girl." The other grabs "Don't you ever say that to me" by the scruff of the neck. Both combatants are given shiny new bracelets to wear and both are poured into the cop car. Off they go to spend a fun filled night in the drunk tank.
Mom of four and Grandma of six, who writes about family events both past and present as well as anything else that happens to come to mind, shares new photos as well as old and who enjoys life in general.