Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Perpetual Three Year Olds

So I'm sitting at my kitchen table writing out a grocery list.  The littlest of my Yorkies, Lily, is standing in front of her open kennel door, fussing.  Then over to me, front paws up on my leg, fussing some more.  Then back to the kennel.  I think she is just being needy, wanting some pets and belly scratches.  But she keeps it up, becoming more agitated the whole time.

So finally I call the other one, Jessie Jane, who, probably thinking there is a treat awaiting, pops out of Lily's kennel.

I didn't realize that dogs have the ability to tattle on one another.  But as soon as Jessie Jane is away from Lily's kennel, Lily struts, head and tail held high, to her now vacant kennel, enters, turns in circles, curls up and promptly goes to sleep.

Jessie Jane is left standing in the kitchen going, "What?"

Yep.  I am living with perpetual tattling three year olds.  And it still takes very little to amuse me.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

They Call The Wind Mariah

I've always liked that song.  It's kind of melancholy and lonely and sometimes, not often, but sometimes it fits my mood.

It has been raining off and on since Sunday.  The wind sometimes howls down the streets and around the corners and then lets up for a while, like it is catching its breath for another hard blow.

I wonder if the never ceasing sounds of wind can really drive a person over the edge.  My Dad thought so.  He claimed that someone he knew was driven mad by the constantly blowing winds in the Dakotas during the Great Depression.  It may have been the wind.  It may have been living with the hardships of that time.  I never knew for sure.  But Dad was convinced that the wind was the cause of the madness.

But then my Dad had one or two other somewhat strange ideas.  I found it sort of hard to explain these ideas coming from a man who was so practical and grounded.  He had only an eighth grade education, which was normal for boys of his generation.  Born on a farm in 1911, he went to school in the one room schoolhouse near the farm where he grew up until he had completed the highest grade possible there.  Then he worked, either on the farm or hiring out to make money to help the family.  And he continued to work hard the rest of his life.  He wasn't given to flights of fancy.

I called him when I first became interested in tracing my family history, to ask him some questions about his grandparents.  He told me what I wanted to know and then he said, "Now, you be careful.  You know that _____ went crazy when she was working on that genealogy stuff."  I could never convince him that _____ suffered from dementia, and that the genealogy had nothing to do with it.  After that, when I would question him about this ancestor or that, he would always caution me to "Be careful that you don't go crazy."

I find it interesting, the little snippets of life that remain in our memories.  Whenever I take the time to research my family history, I smile to myself when I always recall Dad's words of warning about "that genealogy stuff."

And if this wind doesn't let up soon, I may be able to test his theory that the sound of the wind really can drive a person a bit mad!


I think I now have some idea of what it took for my small in stature grandmother to make bread for her family of nine children.  She had to have stirred up and kneaded vast amounts of bread dough to feed that crew.  None of them were shy about their appetites.  But she did it on purpose.

I did it because I am a dunderhead.

I was happily measuring yeast into the warm water for the bread.  Thinking about God only knows what.  It wasn't about the task at hand.  And that is where my inner dunderhead took over, and I found I was spooning Tablespoons of yeast - not the teaspoons I should have been using.


A quick calculation told me I would have to double the recipe to use the yeast already in the water.  I usually double the original recipe, so now I am making a quadruple batch of bread.  Yikes!

Kneading bread dough that contains 22 cups of flour is not a job for the faint of heart.  Or the weak of muscle.  Took me 20 minutes over the normal ten.  Wore me down to a frazzle.  Dunderhead.

On the up side, I don't have to bake for a while.  I have 4 large loaves, 3 dozen buns and two large pans of cinnamon rolls.

I guess there are some advantages to being a dunderhead.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Productive Weekend

The soft spring rains were nice on Sunday, right up to the time the wind picked up and started to howl down the alley and around the corners of my building.  It's funny how even though the inside temperature remains constant, it feels colder when I can hear the whistle of the wind and the sound of the rain being blown against the window panes.  So I grabbed a flannel shirt and a heavy pair of socks to ward off the imaginary coolness of my apartment, and got busy.

Sams Club has fresh chicken breast at a good price, so I bought several packages, cut the chicken into chunks and canned them.  27 pints of chicken are now on the shelves, making a total of 54 pints with what I had canned earlier.  Took the pieces of fat and scrap meat I had cut off the chicken before canning, boiled them up with a bit of seasoning and got 4 quarts of rich broth.  The cooked scraps are used for dog treats that make my two ankle biters jump for joy!  The chicken fat gives fried potatoes a wonderful flavor.  I had planned to buy hamburger to can, for I use that a lot, but their price was no better than the grocery store's, so I will wait for sales.

Sam's carries the huge 6 lb. packages of frozen hash browns, so I got three.  They dehydrate down to less than half the bulk which frees up my freezer space.  I put the last bag on dehydrator trays this morning.  I really like having the dry hash browns on my pantry shelf.  Takes only about 15 minutes to rehydrate them in boiling water and they are ready to use.

The price of butter is good - just a bit over $2 per pound, as opposed to $3.59 a pound at the grocery, so 24 pounds are in the freezer.  Yeast is really cheap in the vacuum sealed 2 lb. packages, and because I bake all of my own bread, I bought 8 lbs.  That should last me a very long time.

I believe that it is necessary to my happiness and well being to have an occasional treat.  I bypassed the barrel o' cheese puffs (although I was tempted) and went for the frozen blueberries.  Sams sells a 3 lb. bag for $6.88.  It would be tough to find a pound of fresh at the grocery for the price.  I bought three bags.  One I will just eat.  I like them as an evening snack once in a while, about half thawed.  The other bags will be used for baking or desserts or blueberry pancakes.

There was a lot more that my poor daughter huffed up the stairs for me.  The stairway I usually use is wide and gradual, with a landing half way up.  Had that stairway not been a crime scene that morning, she would have hauled the groceries to the landing where I would have loaded my cart and easily taken them the rest of the way.  As it was, we had to use the front stairs which are very steep and narrow.  She wouldn't let me try to carry anything up those awful stairs, but carted all of it herself.  Without complaint.  She has one knee that gives her trouble, and I'm pretty sure she had to go home and ice it down for a while.  How on earth I wound up with kids who help, even when it hurts, is beyond me.  I am so very grateful.

With all of the bad things going on around us, with a government that seems to delight in making us dependent upon it and with the same government that seems hell-bent on destroying our Constitutional rights, I tend to become a bit anxious when I know that I am not as prepared to take care of myself as I would like.  So even something like this grocery haul eases my mind a bit.  I will continue to do whatever I can to be as prepared as possible for whatever new and worrisome cards are dealt us.  I don't know how others feel, but it seems to me that the downward slide is escalating.  I refuse to be one of those fighting for the last loaf of bread on the shelf.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Sound of Rain

The building I live in was constructed in the late 1800's or very early 1900's.  There is a ledge, maybe 18 inches wide, that runs along the entire front of the building, right under my living room windows.  It serves no purpose except as an architectural design element.

It is raining today.  If I crack my windows just a bit, the sound of the rain hitting the ledge reaches my ears.  It's not as good as rain hitting a tin roof, but it will do.

Later I may have to doze in my recliner next to a window and just listen.  The sound of rain is good for the soul.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Crime Scene

It appears my building is a crime scene.  And I missed all the excitement.

This morning my daughter came here and we went merrily on our way to Sam's Club.  An hour and a half later, when we returned, we found the door I normally use to enter the building tied off with crime scene tape.  The door was propped open.  There was a large smear of blood on the door.  There were large drops of blood outside the door on the cement.  The rug inside the doorway looked like someone had bled out on it.

Shortly after my daughter had hauled my groceries up the stairs of the second entrance to the building, one of my neighbors came knocking at my door.  It seems that the grandson of another neighbor (he is in his mid-20's) had robbed the little bar that sits behind my building.  He then ran here, trying to get in.  I don't know if he cut himself breaking into the bar or if he did it trying to break the glass on the door to my building.  But about the time the neighbor who was telling the story got home from taking her boyfriend to work this morning, the thief confronted her and threatened to kill her if she didn't let him in.  She instead called the police.  I would imagine that the thief is either at the hospital getting sewn back together or sitting in jail.

I guess you never know what is going on in the minds of people.  I had talked to this guy several times before when he had been here to see his grandmother.  He seemed a decent sort and I had never heard anything to the contrary.  I feel bad for his Grandma.  She is a widow who last year fought and won a battle with cancer that left her in a weakened condition.  She is devastated by the actions of her grandson.

It is my opinion, wounds or not, the punk should be horse whipped just for the agony he has caused that poor old lady.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Good Parenting

Today has been cool and rainy.  It was a good day to spend on quiet projects.  Did a bit of sewing, a little reading, a little puttering about in my kitchen.  Nothing very noteworthy, but satisfying nonetheless.

This evening I settled in to work on sewing together the crocheted squares for an afghan.  Brought up the police scanner website to listen to while sewing.

A little while ago I heard one of the dispatchers announce that there was a father at the police station with his 15 year old son.  The father had discovered that his son had been buying drugs from another student at his school, and had promptly brought the son to the station to talk with police about who had sold the drugs.

That had to be hard for a parent to do.  And young boys really don't like to rat out their peers, especially if those peers are the source for their drugs.

All I know is what I heard in the police transmissions, but it sounded to me like the father was determined to put a stop to his son's drug use.  And in the process, he is giving his son a lesson in consequences for actions.

With a parent who cares enough to do what this father is doing tonight, perhaps the boy has a fighting chance.  Too many parents, it seems, don't want to be bothered or make excuses when their children do something stupid.  I wish both the father and his son well, and commend them for what they are doing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Daughter Arrives Bearing a Gift

Sunday was a really nice day, made nicer by spending it with children and grandchildren.  A good meal, good conversation and lots of hugs.  Doesn't get much better than that.

Except when Oldest Daughter brings a gift.

Sunday morning I had worn a sweater on the way to my daughter's home, to ward off the last of the morning chill.  And because the day was so warm and sunny, I didn't think about the sweater until I was nearly home again.  Last evening Daughter called, wanting to know if I would like her to drop off the sweater.  When she arrived, she had a present for me.  With a grin, she handed me a bag containing the ham bone left over from dinner.  She knows how I dearly love a meal or two of ham and beans.

So the beans, the bone with a goodly amount of meat left on it, and generous handfuls of dehydrated onions and carrots are in my cast iron dutch oven, simmering on the stove.  They will simmer there all day.  The apartment is already starting to smell wonderful.  And tonight I will have a feast.

Some might say that a leftover ham bone isn't much of a gift.  But for me, who enjoys the simple pleasures in life, it is just right.  Thank you, Jill.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Peep Art

My youngest grandkids love to make things.  It's always fun to see where their imaginations will take them.  This year their contribution to Easter dinner were Peep Cupcakes and Peeps floating on a Jello lake.

And they were delicious!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mom's Buns

A couple of years ago, one of my children remembered that their mother knows how to make bread.  Since then it has been my job to supply the family gatherings with homemade buns.  The dough is nearly ready to shape and put onto the baking sheets.  Soon my apartment will smell delicious.  And I will snitch a couple of them for my supper.

Here's wishing all of you a blessed Easter.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Daughter Saves the Day

So my youngest daughter called me last evening.  She wanted to know if she should pick me up to go to her sister's house for Easter.  We talked for a while and I mentioned to her that I was planning on renting a car for a couple of days.

She wanted to know where I was going.

I said I was going grocery shopping.

She wanted to know why I needed to rent a car for that.

I said I was planning to buy lots of groceries - too many to carry home on the bus.

She asked me where I wanted to go.

I told her.

She said that the Saturday after Easter she would come get me and we would go to the first store where I wanted to shop.

She said that the Saturday after that we would go to the second store.

She said that I didn't need to rent a car when I have children and grandchildren.

Bless her!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Just Say No

So I'm standing at the kitchen counter, building myself a sandwich.  As usual, my two little ankle biters are by my feet, waiting for me to drop a piece of meat or cheese.

I'm afraid I might step on one or the other.  They have such small bones that being stepped on could have disastrous results.  And if I should trip over them, I could easily do myself a mischief.  So I've been trying to break them of this habit, to no avail.

Today I gave up on everything else I have done, trying to discourage them from being underfoot.  I just said, "No."  I didn't yell. I didn't raise my voice in any way.  Just a firm "No."

To my complete amazement, they turned in unison, left the kitchen and entered their respective kennels in the living room.

They really scare me sometimes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I Should Have Known...

better than to plan anything.  Went to the store yesterday for necessaries.  Was chilly outside but calm and sunny.  Woke up this morning to 25-30 mph winds and the threat of snow flurries.  Cancel the bus trip that includes standing outside waiting.

I have pretty much decided to wait until the middle of May, rent a car, take what money I have set aside to restock my pantry and do it all in a couple of days.  No waiting in the rain for a bus.  No limits on the amount I can carry home at one time.  Sounds good to me.

I figure that what I spend on a rental car for two days doesn't even come close to what it would cost me in car payments, license, insurance, tires, gas and upkeep to own a car.  And I could get to stores I have been wanting to visit that aren't on the bus route.  Aldis has good buys most of the time and Fleet Farm carries canning jars and Foodsaver bags for less than anywhere else.  But I can't get to either by bus.

Now if I can just find a pack mule to haul stuff up the stairs to my apartment.....

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Odds and Ends

Yesterday was one of those days to attend to some of the piddly little chores that if left undone will turn into big jobs.  Got enough accomplished to satisfy my inner Susie Homemaker.

There was one jar of chicken breast in the fridge that hadn't properly sealed when I canned the chicken, so I turned that, along with a quart of turkey broth and some veggies and seasonings, into soup.  And then thought, "What the heck," and tossed in a cup of rice to turn it into a nice chicken rice casserole.  Tastes really good even though it looks suspiciously like the dog food I make for my two little ankle biters.  Wound up with enough for supper tonight and a couple of containers to freeze for later.

Also had a half a quart jar of home canned peaches that needed to be used, so I made a batch of peach muffins.  They were good as dessert last night and even better as breakfast this morning.

This week's grocery advertisement has some pretty good sales going on, including ham.  The bad part is that the store will only allow one ham to be sold per coupon per purchase, and as I want at least three to can, I will be seeing more of my friendly neighborhood bus driver than I care to.  But then, strawberries are on sale this week, too.  My supply of strawberry jam has dwindled over the winter, so I can buy enough for two or three batches of jam and enough to freeze a few containers for later.  They will be really good over ice cream this summer.

Looks like rain is headed my way today.  It is a good day to give these old arthritic bones a bit of a rest.  I'm working on finishing up the last of the crocheted granny squares for the afghan I'm making for oldest granddaughter.  That turned into a bigger project than originally planned, but it is for my granddaughter.  She is worth the extra time and effort.

And later I will dive head first into an 1800's murder mystery.  I love those old mystery stories.  There are all sorts of twists and turns in the plot and the descriptions transport me back in time.  And that is a pretty good place to be on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Food Preservation...

is ongoing here in my little apartment.

My local grocery had boneless, skinless chicken breast on sale for $1.99/lb.  14 pints are in my pressure canner.

Frozen hash browns were on sale for $1.99 per 2 lb. bag.  I bought 4 bags.  They filled 11 dehydrator trays and are drying as I write.  I really like having the dehydrated hash browns on hand.  I put about 2/3 of a cup of them in a bowl, cover with boiling water, and within about 15 minutes they are ready to fry up for one generous serving.  I've tried making my own from raw potatoes, but without success.  Potatoes have to be blanched before drying.  The thin slices and 1/2 inch cubes work well, but the homemade hash browns tend to fall apart.  The frozen ones are already blanched, so all I need do is spread them out on the screened trays, set the dehydrators at 135 degrees and let them go.

I'm working on building my food storage back up.  I used a lot of it over the winter when I was staying home most of the time.  And I was really glad to have it.  So each week I'm buying the sale items I can use.  Prices are going up at an alarming rate, so whatever I can preserve now will save me money in the long run.  As I no longer own a vehicle, this kind of shopping figures out to lots of bus rides, but it is worth it for me.

Having your own land and raising your own food is wonderful.  I would much prefer to be doing that.  But when in a place where that's not going to happen, there are still ways to preserve food.  It is called doing the best you can with what you have to work with.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Signs of Dementia

Do you remember those TV commercials that depicted symptoms of dementia in the elderly?

The one I remember showed an older lady who couldn't find her keys because she had put them in her refrigerator.

Well, I just caught myself putting the loaf of bread into the cupboard that holds bags and waxed paper and plastic wrap.  And then I put the box of bread bags into the freezer.

I think I may be in trouble...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Another Gorgeous Day

That's two in a row.  We are on a roll!

Today was grocery shopping day.  Time to catch up on a few things I was running low on.  I had been putting off going to the store because I so dislike going out when it is so icy cold.

Usually I treat myself to a meal out once a month about the time my check arrives.  I decided to skip that treat in favor of a few grocery items I had been craving.  Bananas.  Grapes - two varieties.  And my new love - bacon flavored crackers.  Yes, I know.  They aren't good for me.  I don't care.  They are good.  With cheese.  If they kill me, I will die happy.

After the groceries were put away, Jessie Jane and I went for a walk down along the river.  I thought for sure it would overflow its banks this year, what with all of the snow we had, but although the water level is high, it has a ways to go before flooding.  I am always grateful that whoever planned this town had the good sense to build far enough up the hill above the river so the flood waters never reach us.

And now I'm off to tackle the pile of laundry that kind of got away from me while I was a bit under the weather.  And I sometimes think the weather can bring on bouts of illness.  Especially if a person is cooped up for months at a time.  I know that all it took for me to get back to normal were a couple of warm, sunny days.

Oh, yeah.  Peeps.  I bought Peeps.  Just because I could!

Sunday, April 6, 2014


The temperature is 58 degrees.  The sun is shining.  The snow is nearly all melted.  The windows in my apartment are open enough to let in some of that wonderful fresh warm air.  Just came back from a stroll around my neighborhood.  Folks are smiling.  Waving to one another.  Talking about how glad they are that the winter seems to be over.

I am so looking forward to getting out and about tomorrow without having to wear a stocking hat and mittens.  Or worry about slipping on the ice.  Or frostbite.

It is amazing what a bit of sunshine and warmth can do for one's outlook.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Morning Musings

Woke up this morning a wee bit before 5 o'clock.  Went to the windows facing the street to see what kind of gifts Mother Nature had left.  It was still snowing lightly.  There appeared to be between 6 and 8 inches of snow, judging by what was piled on top of cars and on the roofs of the buildings.

Looking at the snow reminded me of the last job I worked before retirement.  I liked the job itself, for I spent my day working with dogs.  But I liked it even better for the fact that it was located next door and I didn't have to try to start a freezing cold car, scrape ice and snow off the car windshield and windows or fight the morning commuter traffic.

In the winter after a snowfall, I would go to work early, grab a shovel and clear the sidewalk of snow.  Some days it was an easy job of sweeping.  Other days like today, when the snow is wet and heavy and especially if it was deep, it was a job for a much younger person.  But you know how it is when you are pretending that you really aren't getting old.  You do it anyway and pay later.

This morning I can admire the beauty of the snow by looking out my window.  Instead of being outside shoveling, I am still in my jammies, coffee cup in hand, thanking the good Lord that I don't have to do that any more.  I love retirement.

Lily the Yorkie, the one who was so sick, has recovered nicely.  She is back to her bouncy self, barking at the snow removal equipment in the street below.  But since being sick she has, for reasons known only to her, decided that I can not be out of her line of vision.  If I go to the kitchen, she is right behind me.  If I am at my desk, she is standing next to my chair with her little paws on my leg.  If I am in my recliner reading, she is curled up at my feet.  I keep my bedroom door closed, for the other one, Jessie Jane, will sneak in and potty on the rug if given the opportunity.  Can't break her of that nasty habit.  So when I go to my bedroom and shut the door behind me, Lily stands outside the door and raises all sorts of a fuss.  She is needy.

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I do not like forced inactivity.  Yesterday I was still experiencing cold chills, but I had slept all that I possibly could.  So I wrapped myself in my fuzzy blanket, plopped myself down in front of my computer and dug into my genealogy program.  I still have lots of information to enter.  For some, the study of generations past is dry as dust.  For me, it is fun to learn about those ancestors of mine.  As I worked on transcribing past census records I found that one great-great-great aunt ran a hotel in a small Minnesota town.  Many were farmers.  One branch of the family moved from Minnesota to Washington and Oregon, where they held a variety of jobs.  And another spent her last years in an Alms House, which I found sad.  The entering of information into my program is tedious, but the detective work to find that information is fascinating.  I think that we are the sum total of those who came before us.  I want my children and grandchildren to know who they are.

So I will take it easy over the weekend, doing what needs to be done but refraining from starting any big projects.  The local weatherman tells me that by Monday the sun will shine and the temperature will get into the mid-sixty degree range.  By that time I will either be well again or stark raving insane from inactivity.  I vote for well.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Son's Weather Report

David receives weather updates because of his job.  He usually posts them on Facebook for friends and family.  Here is this morning's report.

"I'm am sorry my friends, but here it is:
A strong spring storm to affect us over the next 36 hrs. First, mainly just a rain event today with patchy snow mixed mainly before 9 am. No accumulations through the day with a high in the middle 30's. The rain will turn to heavy snow northwest metro 7 pm and southeast 10-11 pm. Heavy snow tonight with 5-9” likely by 6 am. Another 1-3” likely before fully ending around 2 pm for totals of 6-12”. The heaviest amounts will be northwest and least southeast as the change over to snow will occur later over the southeast."

I'm southwest of the city, so I'm not sure how this latest storm will impact my area.  For me, it doesn't really matter.  I'm not going anywhere.  I have plenty of food and supplies.  The critters have lots of food and treats.  Got enough coffee to last a year.  I have loaded over 600 books onto my Kindle.  I'm ready.

This is my Dad's car after a snow storm in about 1953.

And I am truly grateful, especially since I'm still feeling kinda crappy, that I won't be one of those standing in line at the grocery store today.  Think I'll take a nap instead. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

No Joy Today

Whenever we get sick, we usually refer to it as the flu.  Whether it is or it isn't doesn't matter.  It is miserable.  Chicken soup is in the crock pot.  Hibernation is on my schedule.  See you later.