It doesn't seem like we have seen very much rain here over the summer. But this evening the rain is falling. After another hot day - not as bad as earlier this week, but hot nonetheless - the temperature has dropped 12 degrees in the past hour. A cool breeze flows from one end of my apartment to the other. I can turn off the fans and just listen to the music of the rain.
I think our mini heat wave is over. This morning I have cooler breezes blowing through my apartment. The constant panting by the pups has ceased. Their appetites are back to normal. That is a good thing, for they ate little over the last few days. They are so small, 12 lbs. and 9 lbs. respectively, that I am concerned when they won't eat. Especially Jessie Jane, who is the consummate garbage hound. When she refuses food, I know that things are not well in her world. My appetite seems to have returned as well, which is probably not so good.
As long as my kitchen was cool early this morning, I baked bread. I had been out of bread for a couple of days, but didn't want to make the apartment any more miserably hot than it already was. Six loaves and two dozen buns are cooling on my kitchen table. I try to bake my own bread as often as possible. The wonderful smells that fill my home remind me of coming home from school to find my mother taking bread from her oven. There is little that smells so wonderful as bread baking.
I hope that the cooler days continue. I love the fall of the year. I live near the Minnesota River, and I so enjoy walks with the dogs on the paths along it's banks. I wish that the city still allowed folks to burn the leaves raked from their yards, for that smell was one I always associated with autumn. But soon the smells of canning apples, cooking applesauce and apple butter will fill my little home, and that is just as good.
Isn't it funny how different smells in the air can bring on such pleasant memories.
It has been hot today. My air conditioning is out. Doesn't look like it will be fixed soon. I have been a bit concerned about my dogs, who have been spending time on the cool kitchen floor. They have been panting a lot, which is unusual for them. My thermostat has read 87 degrees most of the day, even with four large fans running. I'm pretty much just pushing the hot air around rather than cooling anything off. Earlier this evening I put both of my Yorkies in the shower and let cool water spray them for a while. You would think that I had given each of them a T-bone steak, they seemed that happy to be cooler. It made me think about how much joy they give me and how little they ask in return.
I have been pretty quiet today. Heat, high humidity and I are not friends. I read some, entered some things in my genealogy program and messed about on the internet, catching up on some blog reading and researching some things of interest to me. In my travels through cyberspace, I stumbled upon the following. I recall seeing this before but had not saved it. I decided to share it with you because of the truth it contains.
Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.
I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.
He said, ''People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?'' The six-year-old continued,
''Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''
Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
I rarely, if ever, delve into current events or political opinions on this blog. I don't completely understand politics or economics or global events. I don't even pretend to.
What I do know is this:
I know that if a politician is speaking, chances are more than pretty good that he or she is lying to me. Sincerely and with a straight face.
I know that little by little my rights as an American citizen are being undermined by those who believe that the Constitution is just an old piece of paper.
I know that the government thinks it is OK to spy on all of us.
I know that "Of the People, By the People and For the People" no longer matters to anyone in power.
And I know that very few people really care. They are way too busy with their own lives and interests to see that the train is ready to jump the track. And take all of us right along with it.
I am into preparing for whatever does come down the pike. I have no idea if war or economic collapse or civil unrest will make it necessary for me to live for a time on what I have put by, as well as feed any of my family that needs to be fed. I just know that the world has gone mad and something will happen, probably sooner than later, that will make life a lot tougher for folks than it is right now. As the child of depression era parents, I was taught that if I didn't stock up in the summertime, I would probably be pretty hungry in the middle of the winter. So I stock up as much as I can.
I don't have a retreat to go to like so many in the "prepping" world do, when things get bad. I am a retired widow living on Social Security. My husband was epileptic and diabetic. He died from a heart attack 5 years ago. Doctor and hospital visits, $1,400 ambulance rides that were a mile and a half long between our apartment and the local hospital and the price of the several medications he took made saving for retirement only a pipe dream. I do not begrudge one dime spent on his health issues. But there was nothing left over for retreats or bug-out vehicles or cases of freeze dried foods or many of the other things that modern day preppers find necessary. My point is not that my life has been tough. Many people have lives that have been much more challenging than mine. My point is that even with challenges, whether it be limited income or chronic illness or anything else, it is possible to prepare for the future. We just do the best we can with what we have to work with.
I do worry some about those who ignore the signs that things are woefully wrong in our country. I understand that it is much nicer to live in a world viewed through rose colored glasses, where everything is unicorns and sunshine. Nobody likes to see the storm clouds on the horizon. I just think that it is better to get ready for the storm than to pretend it isn't there.
Others can do whatever they wish. I can't seem to get anyone to really pay attention. So I will just continue to do what I have been doing - pray and prepare as best I can.
It is my own fault. My Yorkies love, love, love the homemade dog food that I am feeding them now. They get fed morning and evening. It is not like they are starving, for I leave dry food down for them all the time, should they want a nibble in between feedings.
Supper time is between 5:30 and 6 PM. Lately they have started pestering me around 3:30 in the afternoon. A human being with a heart can only take so much of the soulful staring. Or maybe they are giving me the evil eye. I'm not really sure.
Anyway, the last couple of afternoons I have caved by 4:30 or so.
Which means that now they think they should be fed earlier in the morning. Yesterday and today it was at about 4:45 AM that they started fussing outside my bedroom door. I don't mind getting out of bed at an early hour, but come on. I'm retired. I don't have to get up if I don't want to. The birds aren't even awake at 4:45 AM.
So now they have had their breakfast and are fast asleep - Lily in her little bed and Jessie Jane in her kennel. That's where they always sleep. And here I am, at 5:15 AM. Wide awake.
Guess I'll go make a pot of coffee.
And yes, I know. It is my own fault! I'm such a pushover.
I prefer Not to Cook. It's not that I can't cook. I can. Very well, as a matter of fact. I just do not enjoy the process.
There are some YouTube channels hosted by some very good cooks. I enjoy watching them from time to time. And now and then I see a dish that I might try making for myself. But not often. I keep a pretty basic pantry. A fixed income doesn't include specialty items. And cooking for just one person isn't much fun, so I try to make it as simple as possible.
I am a back to basics kind of cook as opposed to one of the gourmet variety. I live in pork and beef and poultry country. I have never seen leg of lamb in the meat department of my local grocery store. I grew up on basic, good tasting simple and filling meals of meat, potatoes, vegetables and probably homemade pickles. The closest thing to a gourmet dish that I remember from my childhood was when Dad's pancake batter got a little bit runny, resulting in very thin pancakes. He plopped some strawberries on them, added whipped cream, rolled them up and convinced his children that they were eating "high-classed crepes."
I home can much of my own food. I don't have a garden. My apartment is surrounded by asphalt and concrete. There are no community gardens in my area. I thought about growing tomatoes and herbs in pots on the communal deck of my building, but others have tried this in the past and the pots were stolen within a couple of weeks of planting.
What I do have is a son who is willing to go to the huge Farmer's Market in Minneapolis and bring me boxes of tomatoes, huge heads of cabbage, bags of carrots and boxes of potatoes, all grown locally. What is even better, he is willing to huff all of that produce up the stairs to my apartment, along with the jars that I need to can it all. God bless him. I hope his back holds out!
I can the usual suspects - corn, green beans, carrots, peas, potatoes, etc. I also buy meat on sale and can that as well. I am able to open a jar of mixed vegetables and another of canned turkey and dump them into a casserole dish. Top it off with homemade biscuits, pop it in the oven, and - easy, peasy - dinner is served. Or I take a jar of beef roast chunks and a jar of potato and carrot cubes, plop them in a pan, season and bake for a half hour and I have a meal.
I have started canning a variety of soups as the basis for quick and easy lunches. So far I have canned vegetable, chicken vegetable, ham and bean, split pea and ham, and chili. A pint jar is just right to fill a soup bowl.
I didn't start canning as part of the prepper movement. I have done this most of my life. In my family, the rule was, "If you don't work, you don't eat." And that included working hard summer and fall, preserving the garden produce and seasonal fruits. Dad worked a job and Mom and I worked canning and preserving. I grew up on home canned foods and I still like them far and away better than anything I buy in the store. The added benefit is that I know what is in them, as opposed to the ingredient list on a can that includes items that I cannot pronounce.
Some of my grown children think that I have gone off the deep end when it comes to the preservation of food. They also believe that my tin foil hat is on a bit too tight. That opinion notwithstanding, I continue to add home canned food to my shelves as often as is possible. My goal is to have a one year supply of food put away. I am nearly there. Winters here in Minnesota can be very cold, very snowy, very icy and totally miserable. Last winter I only had to venture out in the bitter weather three times for a grocery store run. I hope to avoid trips to the store altogether this coming winter. I do love winter, but only when viewed from the comfort of my rocking chair in front of my window, with a cup of steaming coffee or hot chocolate in hand and one of my crocheted afghans over my shoulders. Add a cat in my lap and my dogs at my feet and I am one content lady.
This week my town has its annual summer celebration. Many towns across the country have them. There are activities and contests for young and old, music in the bandstand, food booths and arts and crafts booths, a fireworks display Saturday night and a parade on Sunday afternoon. And many of the local businesses have sidewalk sales going on. Because I am more inclined to a hermit kind of lifestyle as opposed to being a social butterfly, I will probably skip the crowds. I tend to gravitate more to the book sale at the library. I probably will wander down to the park tomorrow and check out the crafty things for sale, for I always like most anything handmade. And the fireworks display is just a block away on the river and I can see it from the deck on my building. The kid in me loves the fireworks.
The crowds of people coming and going to the various activities reminded me of the small town celebrations in years gone by. The town where I grew up had the Kaffee Fest. It was a big deal for us country kids who didn't get to town that often. A couple of streets were blocked off and a small carnival complete with Merry-Go-Round, Ferris Wheel and Tilt-A-Whirl (my favorite) was set up there. I always felt kind of sorry for the ponies going round and round with shrieking kids in the saddles. A couple of churches had food booths that served hamburgers and fries or foot long hot dogs, and because we were in dairy country, there was a large "all you can drink for a dime" milk bar. It was pretty small stuff compared to the countless entertainments going on here this weekend, but it was great fun for kids of my era.
I remember hearing my parents talk about activities in the small town where they both grew up. They talked of ice cream socials and outdoor band concerts on summer evenings. They reminisced about pot luck picnics at the church and pageants put on by school children. They told about tug-of-war contests and softball games and of hayrides in the fall of the year and sleigh rides in the winter. But mostly they talked about the people who attended these gatherings that seemed to be more about friends and neighbors and families than about the entertainment.
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.