Friday, February 27, 2015

In the Military

This afternoon my oldest granddaughter became Private Nicole.

She will finish High School this coming spring and toward the end of summer will leave for Basic Training.

I want to cry because my grandbaby is all grown up.  But I can't because I am way too proud of her to shed tears.  She did not come to this decision easily.  She gave it serious thought, did her research and decided that the Army was the best fit for her.

Nicki, I have always been proud of the person you are, but I have never been more proud of you than I am right now.

Love, Grandma


Had a small setback this morning.  Nothing serious, but I find I will not be let loose on the general population quite as soon as I would like.  New skin that has grown over wounds is fragile and can split.  And it did, so more time to heal is required.  Drat!

Anyway, I was trying to keep my mind occupied with some genealogy research after my leg was bandaged up again.  Wasn't working very well.  I was on  the brink of feeling sorry for myself when the phone rang.

The word "friend" doesn't always refer to someone we have known since school days.  Friend can mean someone we have never met in person, but have gotten to know through our blogs.  She reads mine.  I read hers.  We have exchanged comments and emails.  She worried about me enough when I was in the hospital to call and leave a message for me.  I worry about her living in a drafty house when the snow falls and the wind blows.  We both have senses of humor that mesh.

She called me today.  We chatted about everything and nothing.  We laughed at the crazy drivers on icy roads in her part of the country and mine.  We talked about what each of us had been doing.  We talked about upcoming events.  We marveled at what a small world we live in where a friend of hers lives about 10 miles from the town in northern Minnesota where my brother lives and within 25 miles from where my family is from.

And I forgot all about feeling sorry for myself.

Thank you, Mary.  I wonder if you have any idea what that call meant to me and how much it cheered me up when I really needed it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On Being Prepared

My canning session today turned into a longer one than expected.

I had opened the freezer in my refrigerator to take something out, and found that everything was thawed.  Checked the refrigerator and it was warm as well.  Called my landlord, who said he would be here by suppertime, and if he couldn't fix it, he would get me a new refrigerator.  He was able to fix it, but has plans to replace all of the appliances in the building within the year.  He is right when he says that things just aren't made to last any more.

In the meantime, I had 6 lbs of thawed hamburger. three pounds of thawed chicken breast and a thawed whole chicken.

Some laugh at me or just shake their heads when they see that I have extras of most everything.  Including canning jars.  Including canning lids.

Cut the chicken breast into about one inch pieces and packed them into pint jars.  Ran those jars through the pressure canner with the second canner load of ham and bean soup.

Browned the hamburger and packed it into pint jars.  Processed it after the soup and chicken were done.  Got 8 pints of hamburger.

I was reluctant to refreeze the whole chicken, so I plopped it into a stock pot, covered it with water and added seasonings.  Cooked it over a low flame the better part of the afternoon and had part of it for supper.  The rest I packaged up and put into my chest freezer.

If I hadn't had what I needed on hand to can the thawed meat, I might have lost it.  I can't afford to toss out meat.  And I don't like to freeze meat that has been frozen and thawed.  So for me, canning is the best option.

Let them laugh.  I don't care.  I would rather be laughed at and be prepared than to not have what I need when I need it.

Winter Day Soup

Two days ago, youngest son called me.  He had a couple of meaty ham bones for me.  Bless his heart - whenever he bakes a ham for his family, he saves the bones for me.  He knows I dearly love homemade ham and bean soup.

So that evening I set to soaking a quart and a half of great northern beans.  And yesterday morning I dumped the beans, 3 quarts of homemade chicken stock and a couple of handfuls each of dehydrated chopped onions and dehydrated grated carrots into a large stock pot.  Added enough water and chicken bouillon to make enough soup broth and slow cooked it all morning.  After lunch David showed up with the ham bones and into the pot they went to cook the rest of the day.

I love it when my kids show up at my door.  They don't even have to bring anything except themselves.  Well, maybe a grandkid or two would be nice!

So this morning I re-heated the soup and filled pint jars.  I suppose if I were canning for a family I would use quarts, but a pint jar is just right for me, provided it is accompanied by cornbread.  Gotta have the cornbread with ham and bean soup.  I think it might be the law.

Anyway, out of that quart and a half of beans and two meaty ham bones, I got 14 pints of soup.  Plus enough for supper last night and supper tonight.  Love it when a plan comes together.  Especially when it involves ham and beans!

Thursday, February 19, 2015


The temperature is still in the minus column and it looks like it will probably stay there today.  My apartment stays warm with the thermostat set at 70 degrees, and it only occasionally drops down to 67 or 68.  I am grateful to be living in an old building with outer walls that are nearly a foot thick, and living on second floor where the rising heat from the bicycle shop downstairs keeps my floors warm as well.

Today is a good day to piddle about with sewing projects.  I got to digging through my closet and found a couple of half-finished quilt tops, so I'm working on those today.  Country music on the radio and once in a while some classical for a change of pace.  Hot coffee within reach.  The promise of my favorite cold weather comfort food - chicken and dumplings - for supper.

I have some running around to do, but that will keep until it warms up later this week or the first part of next week.  Need to get fitted for compression socks and maybe take a trip to the fabric store, just for fun.  Been a while since I was out and about just for fun.  I'm thinking I will do more of that when warmer weather arrives.

Sometimes I tend to get caught up in the seriousness of my latest illness or in the horror of the news lately, and forget that life needs to be lived, too.  I used to go places and do things just for the fun of it, and maybe it is high time to get back into that habit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It's Grocery Delivery Day

By the middle of this afternoon, I will have a variety of meats, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables delivered to my kitchen. And most important of all, a new jar of Orville Redenbacher popcorn, which is my evening treat a couple of times a week.  The longer I use this service, the more I like it.  Especially on days like today.  It is -9 degrees outside, with a wind chill factor of -31 degrees.  You can bet your bottom dollar that I'm not going out.

I do feel a bit sorry for those volunteers who do the deliveries.  Especially since they are not allowed to accept tips for this service.  There are ways to get around that rule, however.

The last time I had groceries delivered, there were peanut butter cookies waiting, fresh from the oven.  Another time it was cinnamon rolls.  And today there will be blueberry muffins waiting.

There are ways to express appreciation without dollars changing hands.  My delivery guy seems to like this arrangement, for he tries to guess what the delicious aromas are that greet him when he enters the building.  I make sure to send along enough for him to share with his wife.

Those who volunteer to help make the lives of others a bit easier, deserve heartfelt thanks and recognition for what they do.  And a few cookies now and then when we aren't allowed to tip in cash.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What is Wrong With This Picture

A young thug is shot by a police officer.  The violent protests of this action, fueled by the usual suspects of race baiters, spread across our nation.  There was righteous indignation aplenty.  TV sound bites abounded.  Our president even weighed in on the subject.

There were 21 Christian men who were lined up on a beach in Libya to have their heads chopped off by Muslim terrorists.  Where is the righteous indignation of the Christian community?  Where are the protests to this horrific deed?  Why aren't people marching in the streets to decry the acts of these savages?

These things aren't happening because we are too busy being politically correct.  God forbid that we should offend anyone, even a bunch of bloodthirsty savages.

God help us, although I can't say as I would blame Him if He doesn't.  We aren't doing such a good job of defending Him, are we.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Last Health Update

Just finished having the bandages on my legs changed.  All the wounds are healed over.  Looks like in another week or so I will be able to go out and about again.  And life can get back to something close to normal.  Doing a Happy Dance, right here, in my living room.  Good thing I live alone.  A Happy Dance performed by a chubby grandma is best not seen by any other living human being.  But this news was just too good not to celebrate just a little bit.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Life is Good

Doctor visit yesterday.  Told me that judging by my older records, I am now healthier than before I became ill.  Said according to tests given me in the hospital, my heart is strong.  Although I am not a fan of vaccines, I agreed to a pneumonia shot.  And although I am also not a fan of the medical profession, I kind of like this guy, who is new to me as a physician.  Seems like a straight shooter and I think I can work with him.

So this morning...

Bluegrass on my radio.

Browning 18 lbs. of hamburger prior to filling pint jars for canning.

While the hamburger is being processed, I will be making out my grocery order, which is interesting as I need to find sugar-free foods.  Not happy about that, but I can live with it.  I miss chocolate chip cookies, though!  :)

It is so very good to be home.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nellie Dreschler, WWII Survivor

While fiddling about on the Internet a while back, I stumbled across this video.  Nellie Dreschler is a charming lady who, as a child, survived WWII in Holland.  Later she immigrated to the United States and became a citizen.

She decided to record her experiences for her children and grandchildren, to give them an understanding of what life was like for her family during that period of history.  I found her testimony fascinating.  There are many parallels between what life was like then and what we are living through now.

This video was filmed Oct. 17, 2013.  I think it is well worth watching.  Draw your own conclusions.

Nellie Dreschler, WWII Survivor

Monday, February 9, 2015

Darn It!

Anybody know what these are?

They are called darning eggs.  A sock with a hole in the heel or toe is pulled over the darning egg which gives a stable foundation for darning the hole.

I wonder how many sewing kits today include darning needles and thread.  My mother always had a good supply for fixing holes in socks.  We didn't just toss socks when a hole appeared.  We fixed the hole and wore the sock until it couldn't be fixed any more.

We didn't have a darning egg.  That was a luxury.  We had burned out light bulbs that served the purpose just fine.

And I wonder how many of today's young even know what darning is.  I have my doubts that there are any.  We wear a hole in a sock and toss it.  I find it sad that we live in a throwaway society.  So much waste.

Me...I'm glad that I know how to fix socks, replace zippers, sew up seams and patch pants knees.  I might not have the newest or most fancy clothes on the block, but they are without holes and rips and tears.

Oh yeah.  I forgot.  That's the style now, isn't it.  Silly me.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


My doctor said that I can have only two cups of coffee each day.

I can live with that.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Rethinking Food Storage

While waiting to go home from the rehab facility, I spent some time looking online at the floor plans of apartments in the building where I put in my application.  I hope to be able to get the least expensive one, which isn't much more than I am paying right now and is within my budget while being comfortable for one or two people.  After some quick calculations, I found that my heavy duty shelves that hold my canned goods just won't fit anywhere.  Drat.

After thinking about alternatives for a while, I have come up with a plan.

I did some extensive reading online about dehydrating.  I already dehydrate a variety of vegetables, but other foods can be dehydrated as well.  And when dry, they are light in weight and smaller in volume, making them easier to store than food in jars.  Food in jars is more convenient, but I have to work with the living space available.

So I have started dehydrating some of my canned goods.  I had 10 large cans of diced tomatoes.  I drained them, saving the juice to drink, and filled the dehydrator trays.  Those ten cans will dry down to about a quart of tomato bits.

I had five trays with mesh liners left over from the tomatoes, so I opened jars of canned sweet corn and dried them.  Corn rehydrates back to its original form - you can't tell the difference between canned or dehydrated.  And ground up in a blender, it makes cornmeal that results in the best cornbread ever.

I read a couple of articles about making your own instant mashed potatoes, so I have an experiment going for that.  I opened two quarts of canned potatoes and dumped them into the blender, liquid and all.  Whizzed them around for a while until the lumps were gone, and then spread them thinly on fruit roll-up sheets.  Three trays are in a dehydrator now, and when finished I will test the theory to see if it works.  I hope so, because I have at least 16 cases of canned potatoes on the shelves.

I've decided that I will continue to can meat.  It is so much cheaper to buy chicken breast and can it than it is to buy the little cans of chicken.  And canned meat doesn't get freezer burn.  Here is a list of the meats I normally can:

chicken breast
meatballs, plain
meatballs in mushroom gravy
ham cubes
pork roast
pork cubes
beef roast
beef cubes
bacon bits
sausage crumbles
I even tried some pepperoni slices for pizza, and it worked just fine.

Anyway, that's the plan.  We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Short Update

I am healing.  Previously the changing of the bandages on my legs every other day would cause a session of pain that would last several hours before subsiding.  Today the bandages were changed not 15 minutes ago and there is no pain.  Thank you, God.

I go home tomorrow morning.  Home health care nurses will come in to do the changes twice a week.  My right leg is almost completely healed.  The Wound Care nurse who has been dealing with my legs tells me that the left leg should be healed  within a couple of weeks.  Earlier they were talking perhaps two months to heal.

I will be back as soon as I am settled in at home.  I want you all to know how much your thoughts and prayers and encouraging comments have meant to me.  Thank you.

Home.  Such a lovely word.....

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig!

I sorta doubt that there will be many dancing jigs involved, but it looks like Thursday this week is going home time.  I'm thinking it will probably will be more like crawling up the stairs and then a nap.  But at least the nap will be in my own bed.  That to me is pure gold.

I'm still not off the hook.  I will have home health care nurses coming in two or three times a week to change the bandages on my legs.  The wounds are healing nicely, but there are still some places that rate an "ugly" description.  I am told that total healing may take up to two months.  That being said, I am in much better shape than I was two weeks ago.

To my chagrin, it seems that part of the deal is to also have physical therapy people showing up as well.  That does not thrill me, but I will do it until I run out of patience.  As we all know, patience is not my long suit.

The only part about going home that is difficult for me is that I am going home to an empty apartment.  After I had to have my Lily put down a couple of weeks ago, I was down to just one cat, namely Kizzie.  (There was a time when two Yorkies and three cats shared space with me.)  Because it is difficult to deal with cat hair and because I know that I will be moving, I made the decision to let her go.   Fortunately, one of my daughters is seeing to it that Kizzie goes to a good home.  At this point, others are more likely better able to care for her and give her the attention she needs.

There are a lot of changes in my life just now.  Some good.  Some lousy.  But all things considered, life is still very, very good!!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sometimes You're The Dog...

other times you're the hydrant.

Well, life tends to have its little ups and downs, doesn't it.   The past days have been more on the down side, but things are getting better each day.

I spent nearly a week in the hospital.  The final diagnosis was Cellulitus (sp.?), which amounts to fluid build-up followed by a bacterial staph-like infection  taking over, which left me with two ugly open wounds on each lower leg.  Surgery was done to clean these up and begin treatment.
It was also found that I have diabetes, but it looks like that can be controlled without the use of insulin.

I am now residing in a rehab facility where treatment continues and my strength is slowly being restored.  I'm guessing it will probably be another week before I am released back among the general population.

The hardest thing for me is not the treatments or the physical rehab.  It is being in constant contact with people.  As most of you know, I live alone and like it that way.  I don't do Bingo.  I don't do group activities.  I don' enjoy all of those Senior Citizen type frolics.  I love my solitary life and most times don't care if I see anybody except my family.  But I have put myself in a grin and bear it mode.  I will do whatever I need to do to get to go home again.

My children have been wonderful.  They have seen to my every need.  They have been at my apartment taking care of the things I haven't been able to do for myself before entering the hospital.  They are helping me find another apartment with elevators and easier laundry facilities and no stairs.  I am on a waiting list.

Last evening my brother walked through the door of my room, totally surprising me.  He had driven many, many miles just to see for himself that I was doing OK.  I love my brother.

So that's what I have been up to.  How are things with all of you?