Friday, June 29, 2012

Good Kitty Drugs

My cat, Kizzie, has been really needy lately.  She either parks herself wherever I happen to be, or she meows at me whenever I walk by where she is laying.  She clearly needed a diversion.....something to do besides focusing on me.

I remembered a small jar of dried catnip that I had on a shelf.  So I took an old sock, tied a knot in the toe end of it, filled the heel with catnip and tied another knot above the catnip.  Kizzie wasn't too hard to find.  She was laying on the kitchen floor next to the chair I was sitting in while making her new toy.

When I tossed the toy on the floor for her, she went nuts.  She loved it.  I took some pictures because it was so funny to watch her playing with that silly catnip toy.

Noodle tried to get in on the act, but Kizzie just wasn't into sharing.

After Kizzie had played with the toy for most of the morning, the other two took a turn.  That one silly catnip sock toy has kept all three cats busy and amused and out of my hair all day.

There is some catnip that grows wild along a fence in my neighborhood.  I guess I will have to go pick some and dry it and make a couple more toys.  Who knew that such a simple thing as a catnip-filled sock would keep three felines so busy.  I wonder if they need to go to Kitty Detox?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Chris Graduates

I guess what they say is true.  The older you get, the faster time passes by.  It seems like it wasn't all that long ago that I received a phone call telling me of the birth of my first grandson.  And just a couple of weeks ago, that same grandson graduated from High School.

This past Saturday afternoon friends and family gathered to celebrate Chris' accomplishments.  His Mom planned the party and it was a huge success.  Relatives from both sides of his family were in attendance and there was enough food to feed a small army.  I think everyone there enjoyed themselves.  I know that I did.

Congratulations, Chris.  I am so very proud of you, as I am sure are the rest of your grandparents and your parents.  It just doesn't seem possible to me that you are now old enough to go to college this coming fall.  It is that time flying by thing again, and I have to accept it, especially now that you are so tall that you tower over me!  I wish you all the best while you continue your education.  I know that you will do well in whatever you decide to do.

Love, Grandma

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Real Life

While cleaning out some files on my computer, I ran across the following.  I wish I could remember where I found it so I could give credit, but alas, I can not.  I am going to post it anyway and if anyone claims it, I will be happy to credit them.

Bill Gates gave a speech a while ago at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school.  He talked about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.  Love him or hate him, he hit the nail on the head.

Rule 1:  Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2:  The world won't care about your self-esteem.  The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3:  You will not make $60,000 a year right out of high school.  You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4:  If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5:  Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity.  Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping;  they called it opportunity.

Rule 6:  If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7:  Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now.  They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were.  So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8:  Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not.  In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer.  This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.

Rule 9:  Life is not divided into semesters.  You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself.  Do that on your own time.

Rule 10:  Television is not real life.  In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11:  Be nice to nerds.  Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Dad

My Dad wasn't big in stature.  He claimed to be 5' 5" tall.  We all doubted it.  But even though his stature was on the small side, he was big in so many other ways.

When I was growing up, Dad often worked two and sometimes three jobs in order to take care of his family.  His main job was as a grain sampler for the State of Minnesota.  This job involved climbing into boxcars and taking samples of the grain in them, to be tested.  It was a hot, dirty job in the heat of the summer and a cold dirty job in the middle of winter.  I never once heard him complain.  He often took side jobs to make ends meet.  He fed and watered turkeys at a nearby turkey farm and cleaned our church and other buildings around town in the evenings.  He had a work ethic second to none.

When my mother needed special care due to arthritis, he took care of her and took over the household chores that she could no longer do.  As anyone who has ever taken care of someone who is chronically ill knows, this isn't always a pleasant task.  But he did it, every day, without a whimper or complaint.  I once asked him how he could do this, day after day.  His reply was, "I love your mother."  That was all the reason he needed.

Dad's life was not an easy one, even from the beginning.  He and his family lived on a farm in northern Minnesota.  He told of plowing fields behind a team of horses, of loading hay onto a hay wagon by pitchfork and of milking cows by hand.  He told these stories of his youth, not so anyone would feel sorry for him, but because he felt we would be interested in what life was like on a farm before tractors, combines and hay balers.  He talked of ice skating on the frozen lake near his family home, and of how one windy winter day, he held out his arms like wings and let the wind carry him to the other side of the lake.  Then he said he wished he had thought about how he was going to get back, against the strong wind, but that the struggle to skate back was worth the ride.

He told of using saws to cut huge blocks of ice from the lake in the winter and packing them in straw in the root cellar, for use in their ice box during the summer.  He told of hopping a freight train with some of his brothers to ride out to the Dakotas to work on grain thrashing crews in order to make a little money to help the family.  He told of going to Montana with his brother, Kenneth, to pick potatoes for the same reason.  Dad was never afraid of work and would do anything for the family.

Dad was always there for me.  It didn't matter what the problem was, he always had time to listen.  He was a soft touch for his kids, and I knew that if I could get to Dad first, I could usually do whatever it was that I wanted to do.  I took advantage of that like most kids do.  That doesn't mean that he didn't discipline.  He did.  But most times it was not wanting to disappoint my Dad that kept me out of most trouble.

Dad has been gone for quite some time now.  But I still catch myself thinking that I really need to call Dad and tell him about whatever is going on in my life at the moment and to joke with him about mailing me piece of his world famous apple pie.

I wish he were still there to answer that phone.

I love you, Dad.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Grandma's Attic

My Grandma Paul's house in St. Paul had the most wonderful attic.  When I was just a little girl, she would let me play there on rainy days.  Any cloud that produced more than three drops of rain would send me running to find Grandma and beg her to let me go play in the attic.  She would smile, take me by the hand and lead me up the stairs.  She had an old, heavy flat iron that she would use to prop open the door so it wouldn't swing shut and trap me inside.

The attic had a dusty, uneven wooden floor and a window in one end for light.  Some thought it was a sort of creepy, scary place, but I loved it.  The attic was filled with treasures that would keep me occupied for hours.  One end of the attic was out of bounds to me, I suppose because the things stored there weren't for little girls to play with and break.  But the end nearest the window was all mine.

There were trunks filled with old clothes, shoes and hats that were perfect for playing dress-up.  There were toys from when my mother and aunts and uncle were children.  Wonderful wooden pull toys and building blocks and real china play dishes and wooden puzzles.  There were stuffed animals and I think I even remember a barnyard set complete with cows and chickens.

The most wonderful things of all for me were the picture books.  I was, at that time, too young to have gone to school yet, and I couldn't read, but I spent hours looking at the books and making up stories to go with the pictures.  It was like being able to go someplace exciting in my mind.  I still feel that way when I read a good book I am transported someplace new, and if the book is an especially well written descriptive one, I can experience the sights and sounds and smells within the pages.  That must have had its beginnings with Grandma's picture books.

It is a shame that houses aren't built with attics any more.  Attics are a wonderful place for a child's imagination to grow.  I wish I had been able to spend time in Grandma's attic when I was old enough to appreciate the family history stored there.  Sadly, Grandma and her wonderful attic were both gone by that time.  I did not descend from a wealthy family, so I rather doubt that any valuable antiques were in the attic.  But I remember seeing boxes of papers and books and pictures that probably would be of great interest to me now as I research my family tree.  Yet, I do have the memories of rainy day play in Grandma's attic, and those memories are priceless to me.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Did You Ever Have a Day...

when you just didn't feel like doing anything.  When all you wanted to do was stay in your jammies, read a good book, pet the dog, take a nap or two, and be just plain lazy.

Usually, I keep busy.  Housework needs to be done.  The hated and despised laundry piles up and shouts at me to get busy and wash it.  I usually have two or three sewing, crochet or scrapbooking type projects going.  I spend time with the pooches.  I like to bake, so I make goodies that I don't need but want all the same.  I experiment with using my home dehydrated foods to make soups, stews and the like.  I take trips to the grocery store or sometimes just go to the thrift store to nose around a bit and look for bargains.  When the weather is nice, I take the dogs out for some air and exercise.  Seems like there is always something for me to do.

But the other day I just didn't feel like doing any of it.  There was nothing wrong with me.  I felt just fine.  No hint of sickness.  Got up in the morning like I always do.  Fed and watered my fuzzy buddies, made a pot of coffee and sat down with my breakfast to plan my day.

And at that point, everything came to a screeching halt.  I found that I didn't really want to do anything.

So I didn't.

Life is good.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Farmer's Market Goodness

So this morning my phone rings.  It is Number One Son, and he and Becky are at the Farmer's Market.  They have found a few things I might be interested in.  Should he get them for me?  Well, of course!

A while later they are at my apartment with goodies.  A bag of rhubarb, some parsley, dill and cilantro and (be still my heart) fresh asparagus.  I dearly love fresh asparagus.

After we went to the neighborhood restaurant for breakfast, Duane and Becky left for an afternoon of fishing, and I went to work on the Farmer's Market Goodness.  I washed the rhubarb, sliced it into one inch pieces and bagged it up for the freezer.  The rhubarb will go well with strawberries later on, for pie filling, sauce or jam.  Then I washed the parsley, picked off the leaves and got them to drying in the dehydrator.  I will dry the dill and cilantro when the parsley is finished.

That left the asparagus.  I cut the spears into one inch pieces, blanched them and bagged those up to go in the freezer.  But I saved out enough for my all time favorite comfort food, creamed asparagus on toast.  When my family lived on the farm, we had a patch of asparagus that grew down by the garden.  Mom and I would always freeze most of it, but sometimes she would make creamed asparagus on toast for supper.  It was one of my favorite meals, and still is.  I always thought that she made it because we liked it, and that was probably part of the reason, but as I grew older and was feeding my own family, I realized that this was one way that she made the asparagus go farther.

I would have taken a picture or saved you some, but it just didn't last that long!