Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy Dance Time

I have been going to weekly appointments at the physical therapy clinic due to the problems with my feet and legs.  Wednesday the therapist told me my legs have healed to the point where I needn't go back - I can just continue treatment at home.  Yep.  Happy Dance time!!

I still have to keep my legs and feet bandaged and wrapped in Ace bandages and those have to be changed every other day, but the fact that this can be done at home with the help of a kid or two is reason to celebrate.  And when completely healed, I will have a compression device for each leg, kept closed with Velcro, that I think I can handle by myself.  That makes me even happier.  My kids have been great - hauling me to appointments and helping me with the bandaging in between times.  But I will be pleased when I don't need to ask for help.

Funny, isn't it.  When family has asked me for help in the past, I have always been glad to help if I could and have never, ever considered it a burden.  But it makes me a wee bit (alright - a lot) crazy when I have to ask any of them to help me with anything.  My kids tell me that I am just stubborn, and I suppose they may be right.  Well, OK.  They are spot on, but don't tell them I said so!  But I think it is more that the older I get, the more I fear losing my independence.

I have a few things I want to get done before the cleaners come in sometime in January, so I am taking off until after the first of the year.  There are a couple pieces of furniture to be moved and another shelving unit to be set up.  I am out of space on the shelves that hold my home canned food.  As a result, I have several cases of food in jars sitting on the floor of my bedroom.  They need to be shelved so the carpet can be properly vacuumed and after that I can shampoo the carpets.

And when all is said and done, I plan to spend the rest of the winter sewing and quilting and crocheting.  Not very exciting, I know, but those are the things I enjoy.  Give me a nice, quiet winter, preferably indoors where it is toasty warm,  and I am one happy granny.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Santa, Disguised as My Family...

was good to me this year.

I have been wanting one of those jackets that look like a flannel shirt only they have a warm, quilted lining.   I have heavy winter coats, but wanted a jacket more lightweight.  Oldest Son has one and I had talked to him about shopping for a similar one for me after Christmas.   Lo and behold, the jacket I wanted turned up under the tree.  I love it and I'm sure it will get lots of use when I can be out and about again.  And my daughter assured me that plaids are "in" this year!

My kids are good at finding useful and unusual gifts for me.  As anyone who visits here regularly knows from my occasional whining, I have been dealing with arthritis and leg problems this year.  This means that although I am still capable of doing the basics for myself like cooking, laundry and basic housekeeping chores, the details often are neglected.  Dust bunnies are multiplying at an alarming rate.  Cupboards do not get scrubbed.  Anything requiring climbing up on a step stool or excessive bending to reach rarely get done.

So my family gave me cleaners.  They hired a company to come in to do a one-time deep cleaning of my apartment.  This will happen some time in January.  They won't let me stay home while the cleaners are at work.  They think I will try to help.  Don't know where they got that idea, but they are taking me out somewhere while my apartment gets a top to bottom scrubbing.

Anyone who has physical limitations will understand that once we fall behind on those chores, it seems like an impossible task to get caught up again.  I have good days and not so good days.  On good days I can accomplish quite a lot.  On not so good days it is all I can do to cook meals and wash the dishes.  So I think it will be easier for me to maintain a clean apartment once the dust bunnies have been eradicated and the surfaces and corners I have trouble reaching have been dealt with.

God has blessed me with a better family than I deserve.  And I  am forever grateful.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Merry Christmas

Like so many others, I am a bit busy before the holidays.  Computer time takes a back seat.  My family will gather as we have for several years now, at my daughter's home for Christmas Eve brunch.  I think this is my favorite time of year when everyone is together.

I will likely not be posting until after the holiday, so I am using this opportunity to wish one and all a very blessed Christmas.  I value each and every one of you who take the time to stop by this silly little blog.  Your comments make me think, make me smile.  It is like a get-together of friends with the click of a mouse.

May God bless you all in this season when we celebrate the birth of His Son.  And may the flicker of hope for a better year to come continue to grow.

Love to you all,

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Bit Nippy

It looks like we got about 7 inches of snow in this recent go-around.  And then it turned cold.  Rob over at "At The Lake In The Woods" reports temperatures at his place fell to minus 31 degrees early this morning.  He and his family live 50 miles away from me - a shorter distance as the crow flies.  I am a craven coward.  I didn't want to know how cold it was then.  I checked my thermostat that registers both indoor and outdoor temperatures and found that at 10:30 am it was still 12 degrees below zero.

I checked my Facebook page this morning as I usually do.  I rarely comment there, but look to see if any of my children have posted pictures of their families.  I chuckled when I saw my oldest son had posted two words before braving the elements to go to work this morning.  I quote: "bursy toad."  Years past, when I would take my little ones to see their grandparents in the middle of a Minnesota winter, at least one of them would ask Grandpa how cold it was, knowing his answer would be, "Brrrrrrzy Cold," said with the proper voice that was guaranteed to make the kids laugh.  The younger ones, having the usual pronunciation by toddlers, parroted the phrase as "bursy toad," which has been our description of mind freezing weather ever since.

I am happy to report that the healing of the legs is progressing nicely.  I have been going to therapy appointments twice weekly to have the progress assessed.  My legs are bandaged knee to toes, partly to deal with the seepage of fluid that goes along with the Cellulitis and mostly to provide the compression necessary to keep the fluid from building up and to help reduce the swelling of legs and feet.  I have been able to reduce the appointments to one a week and go from daily changing of bandages to every other day.  May not seem like much, but to me, it is a huge difference.

I wonder when the insanity within the pharmaceutical industry will end.  Or if it ever will.  I realize there are folks who need medications that are much more spendy than those I need to take, but here is what I learned this week.  My doctor sent a prescription to my pharmacy for medication that should greatly increase my chances of having near normal feet and legs.  The usual dosage requires two refills each month.  One refill costs $365.  Two come to $730 per month.  I just signed up for prescription drug insurance which kicks in Jan. 1, so I won't know until then if this medication is covered.

But what happens to those who can not afford insurance.  Those like me who are on a fixed income.  I did the math, just to see how I would fare should my meds not be covered.  Figuring in rent, monthly bills, groceries and the meds I already take plus the new one, I would wind up in the hole each month by over $400.  One of my kids is facing a similar situation.  His insurance does not cover his latest prescription, which is necessary in a life sustaining way, that costs nearly $900. a month.  He doesn't qualify for his clinic's program of financial aid to those who need assistance because he has insurance.  But if he were uninsured, other medical bills would eat him alive and our government would fine him for being uninsured.  I don't know what the answer is.  I do know that if either of us is required to pay these outrageous prices, the only way we could afford to live is if we pitched a tent in the park and lived there.

One the bright side, my apartment stays warm and cozy even on the coldest of days.  And I need not go outdoors unless I want to.  I don't.  There has been one casualty due to the cold.  My herbs that have been growing nicely on my windowsills have given up the ghost.  I didn't think there would be enough of a variance in temperature next to the windows to affect them.  I was wrong.  I seem to have, once again, murdered my plants.  I was, however, able to make use of them while they still lived.  Parsley, sage, thyme and basil lived long enough to let me experiment with cooking using the fresh herbs.  I will give them a decent burial and try again in the spring.  But next time I will move them to a warmer place when the snow starts to fly.

There is a pot of vegetable beef soup simmering on the back burner.  I think a pan of cornbread will go well with it for supper.  Until then, there is a half read murder mystery book that needs my attention.  And a mug of hot chocolate - with mini marshmallows - is calling my name.   Not a bad way to spend a cold afternoon here in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," which is now the Land of 10,000 ice skating/hockey rinks.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


A gentleman by the name of Steve Boyko visited this blog the other day and left a nice comment.  I checked out his Google + site and was delighted to find that many of his posts had to do with trains.  I have ancestors who wrote about their days "railroading."  My Dad dearly loved trains, especially what he called the "long, lonesome sound" of the whistles.  He passed the love of that sound down to me.

My mother's father, Andrew Paul, was the Depot Agent in Blackduck, Minnesota for many years.  I am not sure when he started the job, but I do know he was working there at the time of his first wife's death in 1912.  I believe he retired in the early 1940's.

Grandpa Paul at work in the Blackduck Depot.

Blackduck Depot.  This photo was among pictures from my parents.

I found this photo of the Blackduck Depot online.

Andrew's younger brother, Walter, worked for many years as dispatcher for the M&I railroad in northern Minnesota.  Walter was also a prolific writer of Paul family history.  He wrote the following two stories about events that occurred while Andrew worked at the Blackduck Depot.

"One day my brother Andrew who was agent at Blackduck went out on the platform to hand up orders to a passing log train. As the train went clattering by swaying like a boat in rough water, he noticed the protruding end of a small log on top of one of the approaching loads. Knowing the dangerous spot he was in he jumped back to safety just as the log rolled off, landed on the far end of the depot platform, skidded straight through the bay window and came to rest with one end protruding into the ladies’ waiting room."

"One day a woman showed up at the Blackduck depot where my brother Andrew was agent. She announced that she was going to Bemidji right now and would ride in the caboose of the freight train then about to leave. It being against company rules to permit a woman to ride a freight train she was told she would have to wait for the evening passenger train. No, she would not wait, she was going on this freight and there was nothing anybody could do about it. Suiting action to words she picked up her bundles and climbed onto the caboose. The conductor argued with her all to no avail. She was in the caboose and in the caboose she would stay until it got her to Bemidji. Andrew and the conductor withdrew for a consultation and finally came up with a solution. They went back to the caboose and told the lady that if she  would not get off it would be necessary to set the caboose out at Blackduck and take the train on to Bemidji and leave her just sitting there. Even that did not budge her, so the conductor in her presence told his brakemen, “Well boys, set the caboose in on the house track out of the way, cut it off and we will have to ride the engine and on top.” So they set the caboose in on the house track, uncoupled it and away they went with the rest of the train, down around the curve and out of sight. Just as the train was disappearing around the curve one of the brakemen dropped off where he could keep an eye on the depot. A little further on the train stopped. Soon the woman in the caboose seeing no more hopes of getting to Bemidji on the freight came out, clambered down the steps and went back up town. Andrew, watching proceedings, then went out on the platform and gave the distant brakeman a back up sign, he in turn relayed it to the engineer. The train backed up to the depot, coupled onto the caboose and away they went."

Grandpa had a pretty good sense of humor, I'm thinking!

My cousin Gene's wife wrote this piece about the Blackduck depot some years ago.  I don't know when the depot closed or even if it is still standing.  But her article talks some about my Grandpa and gives an idea of his duties as Depot Agent.

"Living History by Leona Matheny
Several weeks ago, in May, the railway depot in Blackduck was closed.  Just a little building standing deserted near the railroad.  It wasn't always like that, just a little building.
In the early 1900's a man by the name of Andrew Paul came to Blackduck as the depot agent.  There were many jobs to keep him busy.  He was the telegrapher, the freight agent, the baggage handler.
There were four or five freight trains through town each day, and two passenger trains each direction.  Many days a train known as an extra would also come into town.
The first passenger train arrived in Blackduck from Minneapolis about 6:00 A.M.  It was known as #11.  The destination of this train was International Falls.  It turned around there and returned late in the afternoon.  Then it was known as #12.  The other passenger train was a local.  It started in Kelliher and went to Bemidji.  It got into Blackduck about 1:00 P.M. and went on to Bemidji, returning about 6:00 P.M. and on to Kelliher.
At the depot which was much larger then,--to the West there was a large waiting room, for ladies only.  Just off the office to the East was a general waiting room.  To get to the restrooms, you had to go outside and across the tracks to the little building there.  It was a single building with two doors, LADIES and GENTLEMEN, and it had a center partition.
On the days when the "extra" train would be on the track it could not interfere with the schedule of the regular trains so the extra would have to go onto a siding.  Some times these trains were so long they would hardly fit on the siding.  At times the depot agent would stand out between the two tracks to make sure the large trains had sufficient clearance, and sometimes this was only inches.
Messages were relayed by telegraph from station to station.  The depot agent would take these messages off the key, which was an apparatus which tapped out the message in Morse Code.  Some of these messages were of special freight shipments coming in, or a message to be relayed to the engineer of a train which was passing through without stopping.  At these times the message was written out and clipped to a wire hoop.  This hoop was placed on the end of a pole which the depot agent held up at the end of the platform.  The engineer would reach out the window and slip his arm through the hoop and after removing his message, would drop the hoop at the other end of the platform.  Telegrams of a personal nature were also transmitted on these keys.  Messages were taken by the agent, written up and after his day was done the agent would go out into the country to deliver a telegram.  After Mr. Paul had been here a few years a man was hired especially for telegraphy work.  This was Paul Whitney, who is well known in the area.
Depot is defined as a place of storage.  There were many things stored to be shipped out.  Great quantities of wool were shipped at times.  It was stored in huge long gunny sack bales until shipping time.  Years ago the fishermen who were visiting the area would bring in their catch of fish which were packed in crates of ice and shipped home, mostly to Iowa.  Pulpwood was a leading industry in the are in those days.  All of it was shipped out by rails on flat cars.  One of the timber buyers would come in and request the cars, it was always, "Andrew, you got any flatracks?"  The depot agent and several employees were responsible for loading much of the freight into the cars.
There were many types of cars, each with a special use.  There were the slatted cars known as stock cars.  They carried livestock to market, or they have been known to carry a load of watermelon.  Refrigerator cars were cooled by ice which was stored in a compartment at the front and back of the car.  A fan in the top of the car drew the cool air through the car to keep the fruit, vegetables, or meat from spoiling.  Each car had a number which indicated to the agent it's contents.
It is sad to see an era end.  It is sad to realize that many will never have the enjoyment of riding on a train, dining in the elegance of a dining car with the tables so beautiful with the snowy white linens, the shining silverware, and the sparkling glassware.  Those who have not had this opportunity have missed a memorable experience.
And now there it stands.  A small white deserted building.  Just a reminder of a part of history we lived with."

I have seen old train depots turned into useful businesses.  Just two blocks from my apartment is a beautiful old brick depot that had been vacant for years.  Some enterprising local ladies renovated it and turned it into a beautiful quilt shop, while retaining the look and feel of the depot.  It is good to see those old buildings put to good use instead of being left to fall apart.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Canning Marathon

This week found a couple of pretty good sales at my grocery.  My order included four family-size packs of chicken thighs and three boneless chuck roasts, weighing about 4 lbs. each.  I also ordered potatoes, carrots, onions and two 1 lb. bags each of corn and peas.

The chicken went into a couple of stock pots and were boiled until they were falling-off-the-bone tender.  Once they cooled, I stripped the meat from the bones and chopped it into 1/2 - 1 inch pieces.   While the chicken cooked, I chopped the potatoes, carrots and onions into 1/2 inch pieces.  All the vegetables were put into a large bowl and mixed.

I put 1/2 cup of chicken in the bottom of pint jars and added 1 cup of mixed vegetables to each.  I covered that with broth from cooking the chicken.  There wasn't enough broth, so I got three quarts from my shelves that I had canned last year, to finish filling the jars.  I pressure canned this at 10 lbs. pressure (for my altitude) for 75 minutes.  I wound up with 31 pints of chicken vegetable soup, having one jar that broke during the canning process.

I had leftover vegetables, so I packed them into pint jars, added water to 1 inch below the rim and processed these for 55 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure.  When canning mixed vegetables, the vegetable that requires the longest processing time dictates how long to process.  In this case, the corn required the longest time.  I got 16 pints of mixed vegetables.

The beef was cut into about 1 inch cubes and packed into jars.  When canning raw meat I don't add any liquid.  That is a personal preference.  Liquid, either water or broth, can be added.  I just like the taste and texture better when I can raw meat without.  If the meat is cooked before canning, then it is necessary to add liquid.  I got 10 pints of beef cubes from the three roasts.

There was some chicken left over, so I packed it into 3 half pint jars and added broth.  The chicken was processed right along with the beef at 10 lbs. pressure for 75 minutes.  The smaller jars of chicken, when drained, make good sandwiches.

I also got a dozen bell peppers that were on sale.  Those I cleaned and cut into about 1 inch pieces.  They went into the dehydrator.  I have found that the skin on bell peppers doesn't rehydrate well - it stays sort of tough.  So when dry, I will run the peppers through the food processor, turning them into powder.  I can add the powder to various dishes to have the flavor of the peppers without the bothersome tough skins.

We have snow in the forecast for this evening and tomorrow.  I wanted to get this canning done before, even though the forecast is for only 4 to 6 inches of the white stuff.  But here in Minnesota, you never know.  This same forecast has brought only a few flakes or it has been known to bring a surprise blizzard.  Whatever happens, my canning this week is done and I can sit in my rocking chair by the window, coffee cup within reach, a good book in hand, and green fuzzy blanket snuggled up to my neck.  Do whatever you want, Mother Nature.  I'm ready.  :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I Was Happily Reading Blogs When...

my modem went belly-up.  Just flat quit working.  My internet service provider is my phone company, and I rent the modem, so I called them and told them their modem had died.  We played "jump through the hoops" for a while before they decided I was right.  The new modem arrived today.

I spent some time today on the phone with their tech support - a nice lady with a sense of humor from Nebraska - and got it sort of working.  She seems to think part of the problem is within my phone line.  A repairman will be here Friday, and because she thinks the problem is in the lines entering the building and not within my apartment, I will pay nothing for that service.  Seems kind of funny, though, that I am now using the internet.  It will work only when the Ethernet cord is attached and I have no WiFi, but I can live with that until it is all straightened out.  I was going through withdrawal, I tell ya.  It wasn't pretty!

So posting may be a bit more sporadic than usual until I get the kinks worked out.  And now if you will excuse me, I have some serious internet surfing to do while everything is still working.  :)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pride Goeth Before a Walker

It is official.  I have attained geezer status.  The therapist I saw yesterday has ordered one of those handy, dandy walkers with four wheels that have a seat attached so I can sit if needed when I am out and about.  Well, crap!

I have had a misplaced sense of pride in the fact that I could continue to function without the aid of a cane or crutches or a walker.  Well, stick that pride on the back shelf and leave it there.  My therapy session yesterday was good in that I learned more about dealing with the problem of swollen legs and feet and cellulitis outbreaks than I had learned in two years with my family doctor.  I have another session scheduled for next week to learn the exercises and other methods for reducing the swelling.

But the blow to my pride came when, after extensive questioning, it became apparent that most of my mobility issues were due to osteoarthritis rather than the lower leg thing.  I have gotten to the point where standing for more than 10 minutes at a time has become painful.  This is not a problem within my apartment, but it is limiting when I go out.  Hence, the walker.

This turn of events is really a blow to my pride and my desire for continued independence.  After thinking about it overnight, I have come to the conclusion that I have two choices.

I can rant and rave and throw a hissy fit and blame the gods for visiting this misfortune on me.

Or...I can suck it up and learn to use the damn walker and learn the other things necessary to keep me here at home.

I have decided on the latter.  And with that in mind, I have spent the morning going through my apartment and making a list of those things that are now difficult for me and figuring out alternative ways to do them.

Having a shower has been challenging.  By the time I finish washing my hair, my hip joints and lower back are screaming at me for relief.  I already have one of those hand held shower heads installed.  And I am ordering a stool designed for the bath so I can sit when necessary.

I have always scrubbed my kitchen and bathroom floors on my hands and knees.  That is no longer happening.  So I am getting one of those janitorial type mops and buckets with the wringer attached.  Having spent several years cleaning office buildings, I am familiar with them and am confident they will work better for me than any other type of mop.  And I can attach one of those green scrubbies to that kind of mop for getting the stubborn dried on spills off the floors.

I have already dealt with the problem of lugging laundry up and down two flights of stairs by investing in a portable apartment sized washer and dryer.  Both work like a charm.  But the dryer sits on the floor.  The controls are beneath the dryer door.  That means there is a lot of bending over to put clothes in and take clothes out and to push the buttons for the proper settings.  I found that several of the big box stores carry those storage cubes that when two of them are set side by side, the combined size is perfect to hold the dryer up off the floor, making its use much easier for me.  Plus it will give me a handy place to store laundry supplies.

A simple thing like putting on socks can be difficult when a person doesn't bend so well any more.  Yesterday I was shown a device that I can slip a sock onto, slide my foot in, and using the handles on either side, pull the sock up.  I will be ordering one of those devices as well as some over-sized tongs for picking up things from the floor that are hard to reach.  In addition, any shoes I buy once I can wear shoes again, will be the slip-on variety.

The purpose of this post is not to encourage sympathy.  I don't feel sorry for myself, so nobody else should even entertain the notion of feeling sorry for me.  I just won't have it.

The purpose of this post is to encourage those who may be dealing with similar life-changing circumstances.  I really hate having to admit that I need a walker to be able to enjoy being outdoors again.  And I hate having to change the way I do things due to limitations.  But there it is.  Old age ain't no picnic.  Some sail through without having to deal with aches and pains and others don't.  For those that don't, we need to remember that even though there are adjustments to be made, life is still grand.  And well worth living.

My youngest son, David, took me to my appointment yesterday.  On the way home I remarked to him that I had always said I wanted to live long enough to be a problem to my children and that I may have reached that goal.  (That has been a standing family joke for years.)  His response was that he didn't think we had reached that time just yet.  He said he didn't care how big a pain in the whatever I was, they still wanted me here with them.

God bless those kids.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Kitchen Table Folks

Sometimes my mind starts to wander.  Often times these days it goes skipping on down Memory Lane.  This evening the memories were about kitchen tables.

When I was a kid my Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Em were our only relatives who lived close by.  This was a time long before cell phones, when people went visiting instead of texting.  The kids would play games outdoors and the grown-ups would visit.  My aunt and uncle had a nice living room in their house.  My parents had a nice living room in their house.  But the place they all sat to talk to one another was at the kitchen table.

My Grandma in northern Minnesota had a kitchen table next to the only window in her kitchen.  When we went to visit her, we sat around the kitchen table while she cooked on her big wood burning kitchen stove.  Often we would sit there peeling carrots or shelling peas for her.  She could always find a glass of milk, fresh from the cow, and a cookie or two for a granddaughter to consume at that table.

Mother's friends would stop in now and then.  It wasn't unusual to find two or three neighbor ladies sitting at our kitchen table, drinking coffee and catching up on the neighborhood gossip.  And when Mother and her sisters gathered around the kitchen table, there was always a lot of laughter and a lot more "Remember when..."

When I had a home of my own, life seemed to revolve around the kitchen table.  Friends would sit there for a game of cards.  Others might bring their kids over to play with mine, and there were always coffee and cookies or cake or donuts to go with good conversation at the kitchen table.  Homework was done at the kitchen table.  Letters to relatives were written there.  Pictures were drawn by children, books were read while drinking countless cups of coffee and checkbooks were balanced - all at the kitchen table.

I am not a fancy person.  I am much more comfortable with a mug of coffee at the kitchen table than I am sitting in a living room chair trying to balance a cup and saucer on my knee.  I suppose that comes from having a long line of kitchen table folks in my family history.  So should you ever drop in for a visit, don't expect tea in china cups.  With saucers.  You will, however, usually find cookies in the cookie jar and will always find a steaming mug of coffee.  In my world, it doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Quiet here...

in my little corner of the world.  We had a good Thanksgiving dinner with enough leftovers so I didn't have to cook for a couple of days.  I have been spending time reading and listening to my audio books while sewing or crocheting.  The biggest thing I did was to run six pounds of frozen corn through my dehydrator.  I may become more productive this coming week, but until then, enjoying the peace and quiet of my Home Sweet Apartment is enough.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


started out with rain that turned into sleet.  The temperature hovered a degree or two above the freezing mark, so according to those who had to be out in it, the roads were sort of sloppy but not overly icy.  This morning brought maybe an inch of snow on the ground.

I am still dealing with some problems with my legs.  I am not in pain and I can still get around ok.  But I seem to be unable to reduce the swelling in my legs and feet.  As a result, I will miss the big family Thanksgiving dinner at David's house.  A few days ago oldest son Duane asked what my plans for Thanksgiving were.  I told him I would be home as I didn't think it wise to go out in the ice and snow.  The swelling is such that I can't fit these fat feet into shoes.  He and Lori talked it over and decided to stay home, too, so I would not be alone for the holiday.  Duane is roasting the turkey and making a bowl of scalloped corn, a long time family tradition.

I have several physical therapy sessions scheduled in the upcoming weeks.  The goal is to reduce the swelling so I can wear shoes again.  Minnesota is not a really good place to be in the winter if all you can get on your feet is socks.  :)

So today I will be busy.  There are pumpkin pies to make and stuffing to assemble and dinner rolls to bake.  I think I enjoy the holiday preparations nearly as much as the holiday itself.

This year has been one full of blessings.  I have so very much to be thankful for.  I have reached the ripe, old age of 70, still pretty much intact.  Unlike many, I have a warm place to live, plenty of food to eat and I am surrounded by family who go out of their way to see that my needs are taken care of.  Although my body gives out on me from time to time, my mind still works reasonably well and I am able to spend my days doing the things I love to do.

And I am blessed with blogging friends who visit here.  Your comments bring me happiness and I am grateful for each of you.  I wish for all of my blog friends a truly wonderful Thanksgiving.  May God bless each and every one of you.

Monday, November 21, 2016


No, I am not talking about those green ones that are supposed to be full of healthy stuff.  I'm talking about the fun ones.

I love ice cream.  When I was a kid, the best day of the month was the one where the Schwan's man showed up with a freezer truck full of ice cream.  We didn't get a lot of treats, but Dad always bought one of those big tins of ice cream.  We took turns ordering our favorite flavors.  I nearly always ordered Butter Brickle or Mint Chocolate Chip.  If we were feeling flush, there might be a box of fudgesicles, too.

I can order ice cream when I order my groceries to be delivered.  But the folks who do the actual shopping work between 6 am and 8 am.  My groceries don't arrive at my apartment until between 1 pm and 3 pm.  I don't care how good the packaging is for frozen foods, ice cream partially melts before I get it.

I thought about getting an ice cream maker, but my kitchen space is very limited.  And most ice cream recipes call for ingredients I don't keep on hand, like whipping cream.

Then I found this recipe:

Fruit Smoothies

3 cups frozen fruit
1 to 1/2 cups milk
(add sugar to taste if desired)

Blend in a blender until smooth.

So last month I ordered a variety of fruits - strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and bananas.  I did sort of a mix-and-match thing and filled freezer bags with 3 cups of fruit in each.  Last week I gave it a try and made a batch of strawberry, blueberry and raspberry.  Last evening I whipped up some strawberry and banana.  Both were delicious.

The mixture turned out kind of like a cross between a fruity soft serve ice cream and a sherbet.  The recipe makes enough for two big bowls, so I just put the second half in a freezer container and froze it for later.  It isn't rich and creamy like real ice cream, but it is close enough to satisfy that ice cream craving.

I love it when an experiment actually works.  :)

Friday, November 18, 2016

This Girl...

called me a couple of days ago.  She was excited.  She had been participating in tryouts for the gymnastics team at her school.

"Grandma,"  she said.  "I made the team!"

Maddie Mae has been a dancer since she was quite small.  Many of the  dance routines, especially those in her competitions, included some gymnastics moves.  She took some gymnastics classes, decided that she liked gymnastics so much that she dropped the dancing in favor of gymnastics.

Maddie has worked hard to make the team.  She has practice sessions during the week.  Her Dad tells me she works at home to perfect her moves.  Most of the girls on the team have been involved in gymnastics for a number of years.  Maddie became involved about a year ago.  She is the youngest girl on the team.

Am I bragging?  You bet I am!  Grandmas get to do that.  It says so, right there in the contract.

Maddie Mae...I am so very proud of you.  I know how hard you worked to be an excellent competition dancer.  And I know that it has taken more hard work to achieve your goal of being a member of your school gymnastics team.  I am looking forward to hearing all about how you are doing and about the success of your team.

You Go, Girl!!

Love, Grandma

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Surprise Present

So Saturday afternoon there was a knock on my door.  It was my son's friend, Lori.  She was carrying  a cardboard box.  She set the box on my table, grinned from ear to ear and said, "I have a present for you."  When I opened the box I was astonished to find this.

Lori comes over to my apartment from time to time.  She is interested in what I am doing and we chat about all sorts of things.  I suppose that during one of those chats I must have mentioned that after the holidays I would be looking to add a food processor to my collection of kitchen gadgets.  Bless her heart, she ordered one for me.

Yesterday morning Lori made a quick run to the grocery store and brought back two 5 lb. bags of carrots.  They were the baby carrots, so all I had to do was wash them and shred them.  Now understand that I have never before owned a food processor.  If I wanted shredded carrots, they were shredded one by one on a box type shredder - by hand.  The whole 5 lbs. of carrots ran through the processor in mere minutes!  They are in the dehydrators as I type.

Lori also brought me four heads of cabbage - two green and two purple.  I shredded the rest of the carrots and the cabbage, packed them into Ziploc bags and stored them in the fridge.  As one batch of vegetables dries, I have another ready to go on the dehydrator trays.  This is so cool.  :)

When a person has a physical condition like arthritis that causes pain, the tendency is to find alternative ways of doing even the most simple of chores that hurt the least.  This gadget is a godsend for me, for much of the canning and dehydrating I do requires vegetables to be shredded or sliced.

Thank you, Lori.  You have made my life easier and I am most appreciative.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Lovely Fall Day

The gray light of dawn is visible through my front window.  The sun will be up soon and the weather guessers tell me it will be  beautiful fall day.  The golden leaves on the trees are gone now, all at once.  Even though the days have been warm for this time of year, I think winter will be upon us before we know it.

The fall foliage was gorgeous, but something was missing.  I couldn't figure out just what that was until I remembered that in younger days we raked the leaves from our yard and piled them on the gravel driveway, where we lit them on fire.  The smoke from burning leaves is different from other smoke.  Even during the years I lived in town, the air carried the smell of burning leaves for at least a week.  It was as much a part of fall as red maple leaves and orange pumpkins and caramel apples.  I miss the scent of burning leaves.

Sometimes a person needs to just let the world go ahead and do what the world has to do.  The earth will continue to turn and people will continue to do stupid things whether I pay attention or not.

So today there is a crock pot full of apple butter cooking down and a stock pot on the back burner doing the same thing.  The other back burner holds a simmering pot of vegetable beef soup made with my canned beef and dried vegetables.  There are little granny squares of yarn to be crocheted for an afghan and quilt pieces to be sewn together.  There is music to be heard and appreciated.  There is probably a nap or two to be taken in my recliner, covered by my warm, green, fuzzy blanket.

So world, you go right ahead and stomp your feet and throw your tantrum.  Today I don't care.  Today is for me.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

What if...

I have been watching news reports about the protests and riots that have been happening in major cities across our land.  Those on the political left blame those on the right and vice versa.  Each ethnic group blames the other.  It seems like no matter what a person's beliefs are, we feel the need to attach blame to those who differ.  I don't think our country has been this divided since the Civil War.

I wonder what would happen if we as a nation could act like grown-ups and take responsibility for our own actions.  What if we expended as much energy on fixing the problems that divide us as we do in tearing us apart.  I know this is probably just a pipe dream.

But what if...

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veteran's Day

Chickenmom over at Chicken Feathers has a good post concerning Veteran's Day.  She gives a history of the day much better than I can, and it deserves a read.  It is my opinion that those who have served and those who are currently serving have more than earned our respect.  I am grateful for each and every one of the men and women who have sacrificed so much for the country I hold dear.  May God bless them all.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


he did it  He won.   I am ashamed to admit that I didn't think it would happen.  I didn't think anyone could beat the Clinton Machine, what with their underhanded ways, their dirty tricks, their out and out lawlessness.  But Mr. Trump whomped them.  It was close, but he whomped them good.

I did not listen to her concession speech.  I thought it was a bit tacky to send one of her minions to tell the faithful to go home after they had waited most of the night.  And I just couldn't stand the thought of hearing that voice again.

I will refrain from rubbing the noses of those who supported Hillary in the dirt.  I won't do it.  We all have a right to our own opinions.  And it isn't nice to gloat.  But I have to own up to the fact that I probably have spent more time at my computer today than I should have.  There is a certain amount of satisfaction in watching some of the media and some of the politicians express their utter disbelief that there will be no coronation.  They shot themselves in the foot and I don't mind seeing them bleed a little.

Then there are the high school and college kids who are protesting the outcome of the election, complete with safe spaces and counselors to validate their feeeelings.  This was an election.  An election usually has a winner and a loser.  There are no trophies for the loser.  That's what happens in the real world.  Get. Over. It.

My favorites are the celebrities who vowed to move elsewhere if Mr. Trump won.  Even the husband of Justice Ginsburg was quoted as saying that it might be a good time to move to New Zealand.  How about we take up a collection, rent a bus, round them up and give them all a free ride to the border of their choice.  If they don't care enough to stay the country that gave them the opportunity to become rich and famous and try to make it better, then they really should be somewhere else.

I don't know what is going to happen once things settle down.  I truly hope and pray that Mr. Trump is as good as his word and he tries to fix some of the damage done to my homeland over the last eight years.  I do know that this morning I awoke with a feeling of hope.  That maybe.....just grandchildren have a fighting chance to live in the America I remember so well.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Family Ties

A number of years ago I became interested in tracing the roots of my family tree.  It is a process that I enjoy - the digging through old records to find mention of one of my ancestors.  Some find this activity dry as dust, but I find it fascinating.

Growing up, I had heard stories from family members about the possible links to a couple of famous people in history.  My Mother's side of the family claimed to be related to the famous sea captain, John Paul Jones.  Try as I might, I have yet to find any relationship between him and my family.  The only remote tie I found is that both John Paul Jones and my 8X Great Grandfather were born in Scotland.

My Dad's side of the family claimed to be related to our 15th President, James Buchanan.  I have found this to be true.  Although President Buchanan never married and never had children, he can be traced by a round about path to my ancestors.  My Dad took considerable pride in having a president in his family history.

James Buchanan has been known to be the worst president in American history.  His refusal or inability to deal with the question of secession prior to the Civil War and his alienation of both the North and South at that time were the major reasons for his title of Worst President.  His love of alcohol and the epic parties he hosted at the White House in a time of crisis in our nation's history did little to endear him.

You might know that my only claim to fame within my family tree would be to a disgraced president.  Perhaps that is one reason why I love finding the black sheep and scoundrels among my ancestors.  They are much more fun than the rich and famous.

I am glad my Dad never found out the history of his source of family pride.  He needn't have worried, however.  I do believe the title of Worst President Ever has been passed on to the current holder of that office.  Compared to Obama, Buchanan was a rank amateur.

Friday, November 4, 2016

No, I haven't really fallen off the edge of the earth.

I've just been busy.

Had another appointment about my swollen feet and legs earlier this week.  They tell me now that I have Lymphedema which causes the Cellulitis outbreaks.  Swell.  Lymphedema is incurable, so there is another appointment coming up with a therapy person to figure out how to lower the swelling and learn how to keep on an even keel.  I think at some point I must have done something really bad, for Karma is nailing me with the one thing I really hate - medical appointments.  Sigh.

On a happier note, my bread machine stirs up the best cinnamon rolls ever.  I shared a pan of them with Duane and Lori.  About 15 minutes after Duane took his rolls home, my phone rang.  Duane said the cinnamon roll were really, really good.  I could hear Lori in the background, heartily agreeing with his assessment.  Might have had something to do with the cream cheese frosting.

I have been sorting through tubs of quilt fabric and organizing the half finished quilt and crochet projects that seem to accumulate.  Lists of needed supplies to finish each have been made.  I think I will beg a kid to make a fabric store run for me.  There is a Joann Fabrics close by where everything I need can be purchased.  I would like to do that before the snow flies, for winter is when I do most of my sewing and crocheting.  I love winter, viewed from the window of my toasty, warm apartment!

Grandson Jacob, the 8 year old, has a toy that shoots foam darts.  There are two foam darts now residing on the ceiling fan of their living room.  The ceiling in the living room is two stories high.  The darts are too close to the light bulbs for comfort.  David, his dad, says the step ladder he owns is not tall enough to retrieve the darts.  He doesn't want to buy a new ladder.  They are expensive.  So he will rent one.  When informed that he would be donating a share of his allowance each week to pay the rental fee for the ladder needed to fetch his darts, Jacob thought maybe his dad could climb to the top of the existing ladder and he (Jacob) could stand on his dad's shoulders and maybe he could then reach the darts so the ladder rental would be unnecessary.  Dad said no, he did not think that would work very well.  Jacob has learned about consequences for actions and sometimes those actions cause you to lose your allowance.

It is 60 degrees here today with clear skies.  Most of the leaves have fallen from the trees down along the river, but the small trees along the sidewalk outside my building are a glorious yellow.  They are usually the last to hit the ground each autumn.  I enjoy that splash of color outside my window and am glad it lasts as long as it does, for soon the snowflakes will cover the ground.  But I'm ready.  I have plenty of coffee, lots of hot chocolate mix and the makings for many pots of homemade soup.  Life is still good, even with the approaching cold and snow.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Homemade Sandwich Meat

I like sandwiches.  Especially when I am busy and don't want to stop what I am doing long enough to cook a meal.  But lately I have stopped buying sandwich meat.  I am not fond of the packaged stuff at the store.  It just doesn't taste all that good and the ingredients are questionable.  I could get the sliced deli meat, but the prices have gone through the roof.

So the other day I was going through my old recipe box, looking for inspiration, when I found two recipes for sandwich meat.  I had made these years ago and they were good tasting.  Both use hamburger as a base and the other ingredients are those most have on hand or are easy to find in the grocery store.

Summer Sausage

2 lbs. hamburger
1 cup water
2 tsp. liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp mustard seed
3 Tbsp. Morton's Tender Quick Cure Salt

Mix all the ingredients together.  Roll into firm rolls.  Wrap in foil with the shiny side out.  Refrigerate for 24 hours.  Punch holes in the bottoms of the rolls with a fork.  Place the rolls on a rack in a baking pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 35 minutes.


2 lbs. hamburger
3 Tbsp. Morton's Tender Quick Cure Salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. mustard seed
1/8 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. peppercorns
1 cup water

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and form rolls.  Wrap the rolls in aluminum foil.  Refrigerate for 24 hours.  Place rolls in a Dutch oven, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Gently boil for 1 hour.  Drain and rewrap.

If memory serves, I made 3 rolls out of one batch of either meat. These sandwich meats are not going to taste exactly like store bought summer sausage or salami.  But they will make some seriously good sandwiches.  And both freeze well.  I'm going to order some hamburger on my grocery order in two weeks, and get some Tender Quick.  I think I have everything else on hand.  Sure beats that packaged stuff at the store.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Little Cheese With That Whine

So a couple of weeks ago it was a bit of stomach flu that kept me close to my bathroom for two days.  Then it was a head cold that made my nose drip in a most unladylike fashion.  Now that the cold has run its course, a flare-up of arthritis has made it impossible to keep an appointment this morning.  I think I might be able to get down the stairs in an emergency situation, but I wouldn't bet on being able to get back up them.

Sometimes it feels good just to be able to moan and groan and whine a little bit.  Doesn't take the pain away, but it gets rid of the stress from nodding and smiling and telling everyone that "I'm just fine."

So now that I have gotten that out of my system, I think I will spend most of my day sewing on a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt top that I am determined to finish by spring.  It is made up of hundreds of inch and three quarter sized hexagons, all sewn together by hand.

I'm adding another row of sage green hexagons around each of these blocks.  The quilt has sort of an old fashioned look to it and I like that.  If I remember right, the quilt is done in rows of seven blocks each, making it seven rows wide and seven rows long, equaling about a 75 inch square quilt.  I'll post a picture of the finished quilt, if I ever get done with it.

Sewing on my quilt - listening to some audio murder mystery books I downloaded - might turn out to be a good day after all.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

For the Record

The mini marathon of dehydrating is about finished.  Here are the results.

4 medium sized heads of chopped cabbage = 2 quarts dried
10 lbs diced carrots = 1 quart and 1 cup dried
10 lbs. diced onions = 1 1/2 quarts dried
20 lbs. diced potatoes = 5 quarts dried

I also dehydrated 12 cans of diced tomatoes, but I am not overjoyed at how they turned out.  Instead of getting small pieces of tomato, they kind of dried in a sheet like a fruit roll-up.  The idea was to be able to toss a handful of tomato pieces into soup or stew.  I broke the sheets into pieces and they fit in a 1 quart bag.  I think I will probably run them through my little electric grinder and turn them into tomato powder to use as flavoring.

Finally got my kitchen cleaned up including the nasty science experiments from my fridge.  I really don't know how I wind up with leftovers that I forget about until they growl at me.  I need to be more careful about finishing up those odds and ends.  I hate waste and I get irritated with myself when I have to toss what once was perfectly good food.

So I am off to do more fun stuff like a bit of rearranging in my living room in order to fit in one more shelving unit.  This one will hold my  quilting fabric and supplies with room to spare for the odd cases of home canned food that I can't fit on the other shelves.  After which I plan to spend a few days sewing and reading and napping.  Not necessarily in that order.  :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

When They Come Knocking on Your Door

Just a quick note here about something that happened this past Sunday.

There was a very loud knock on my door.  When I answered, I found a well dressed woman standing there with a brochure in one hand and a clip board in the other.  She wanted me to look at her brochure and fill out a form.

I just glanced at the brochure and remember it had something to do with drugs - perhaps drug usage in my town - I'm not really sure, for at that point I told her I was not the least bit interested.  She tried to get me to take the brochure and I refused.

Then she wanted me to fill out her form, which I refused to do as well.  She was persistent, telling me I only had to fill in my name and address and phone number.  I made it perfectly clear that I would not give out any personal information, especially to people I did not know who came knocking on my door on a Sunday afternoon.  She didn't want to take "No" for an answer, so I finally just shut the door and locked it.

Maybe I am just paranoid.  Maybe there was a legitimate reason for her calling on me.  But it just seemed strange that she knocked on my door on a Sunday afternoon rather than on a regular work day.  And the fact that she was so determined to get my personal information sent up a red flag.  The whole incident smelled like a scam to me.

Anyone can go get brochures printed that look like legitimate worthy causes.  And the main goal seemed to be to procure my signature.  We are close to election day.  I have read about scams that involve getting signatures to be used in voter frauds.  Whether that was the reason for this visit, I can not say.  But I still will never give out information to strangers.  Just sayin'.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Away From the Computer

I will be AWOL until probably the end of the week.

The cabbage has been dried.  The tomatoes have been dried.  The carrots are in the dehydrators.  I still have 10 lbs. of onions and 20 lbs. of potatoes to deal with.  I need to bake bread and do laundry.  And my kitchen looks like someone's vegetable garden blew up in the middle of it.

Add to that a follow-up appointment on Wednesday with the guy who takes care of my legs.  He is a really nice guy, but after this appointment I am hoping not to see his face for a long time.  :)

So taking into consideration just how slowly I move these days, it will likely take me the rest of the week to finish doing what needs to be done.   Longer if I spend time messing around with my computer like I have been known to do.

My Kingdom for a really good cleaning lady!!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Confusion Reigns

So today I woke up about 4:30 AM, with no hope of falling back asleep.  Made my coffee.  Cooked a couple of eggs and toast for breakfast.  Puttered about until it was time to get ready for an appointment with a tech at the clinic.

The tech did an ultrasound on my feet to check on blood circulation.  She also did a blood pressure check on both ankles and my arm.  Apparently even though I am slowly coming apart at the seams, my blood is doing a fantastic job of moving around inside me.

Got home about 12:30 PM.  Fixed some lunch and did a couple more Suzy Homemaker things before deciding about 2:30 that a nap was a really good idea.

Woke up about 7:00.  Made coffee and fixed breakfast.  Dinged about on the computer for a little while and then got started on my day.

Only it wasn't.

I had glanced out my window, observing that it was awfully dark for 8:30 in the morning.  Looked at the clock on my computer only to discover it was 8:30 Saturday night - not 8:30 Sunday morning.

Oh, good grief.  I wonder if other people nap for a few hours and wake up thinking it is morning of the following day.

Don't tell my kids.  They think I am a little bit off center anyway.  If they hear about this they will be looking up the early symptoms of Alzheimer's and Googling local nursing homes.  :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

About to Get Busy Again

Yesterday my grocery delivery service called to take my order.  This time in addition to the normal stuff I ordered 4 heads of cabbage, 10 lbs. of carrots, 10 lbs. of onions and 10 lbs. of potatoes.  I have another 10 lbs. of potatoes here from the previous order.  All of this is going into the dehydrators.  I have another 12 cans of diced tomatoes I found when I was moving some store bought canned goods from the closet pantry to the new shelves.  Those I will drain this evening, saving the juice to drink, and dehydrate them overnight.  The dried food takes up much less space than canned and even with the new shelves, I think I will be doing a juggling act trying to store it all.

Oldest Son Duane and his friend Lori (I don't know why I haven't used their names.  My sons names are already on several comments, so I'm not fooling anybody.) made another Sam's Club run.  This time they brought me one 25 lb. bag of sugar and the same of flour, 2 boxes of instant mashed potatoes (each weighing 3.25 lbs.) and 2 10-packs each of cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup.

I am also ordering cases of bottled water (24 packs).  And yes, I know it is silly to buy water.  But my apartment is on city water.  City water doesn't taste very good.  I do fill from the tap the 2 ltr. soda bottles and the empty large juice bottles from when the store has had apple juice on sale.  I moved my sofa out about 12 inches from the wall so I can get two rows of water bottles hidden away there.  I have water stashed all over.  I think I can fit 5 cases of bottled water on the bottom shelf of the new shelving unit.  Water is important.  Three days is considered the amount of time person can survive without water, although there have been cases where some have lived 8 - 10 days or longer.  From what I have read, much of that depends on climate, conditions, etc.  Water is the chink in my prepping armour.  I have no place to store the big blue barrels of water, so I do the best I can with what I have to work with.

I don't think I am the only one who feels like time is running out.  I have felt that way for a while now.  I have worked hard to put away some cash each month so I can take advantage of Sam's prices and sale prices to fill in my preps where I am low on some things.  I don't know what will happen.  I don't know if anything will happen.  But no matter what, my family will not go hungry.

Friday, October 7, 2016

I'm Done

So I'm scanning the headlines this evening and I find that Wikileaks has released emails concerning speeches made by Hillary to big money groups.  And then I see where an audio tape from eleven years ago in which Trump engages in locker room talk has also been released.  I'm pretty sure both of these will provide more mud to be slung about.

I am tired of both candidates wasting my time and discounting my intelligence in order to bash one another.  If they insist on participating in a mud wrestling match, fine.  But I don't want to hear any more about who did what to whom.  I want to know what they will do to help the American people get out of this mess we find ourselves in.  I want to know what they will do to make America as good a place for my grandchildren to grow up as it was for me.  I do not wish to watch a couple of clowns thumbing their noses at one another crying, "Neener, Neener, Neener."

Really, America.  This is the best we can do?  Unless an honest to God Constitution loving statesman emerges out of this train wreck of a presidential campaign, I'm done.  Just let me know when it is over.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Meandering Sort of Week

This week has been a little of this and a little of that.  Oldest Son came over for supper this evening.  His friend is out of town visiting her Dad and Son had to work so he didn't go with her.  I had a big butternut squash from the Farmer's Market to bake and I had some chicken to go with it and Son said he would be happy to share.  It was nice to cook for more than just me.

Youngest Son took me to a medical appointment this morning.  It was with the "wound care" guy who had taken care of me nearly two years ago when I was in the hospital with that bad outbreak of cellulitis.  Apparently I have been doing everything right this time for my legs are both nearly healed.  The best part was when he told me to lose those awful compression socks.  I hated them because I couldn't get them on by myself.  And the tops wouldn't stay in place, but would roll down a bit and would cut into my legs just below my knees and that was painful.  He said they were acting like a tourniquet and that is not a good thing.  I still have to wear some elasticized coverings, but they are soft and comfortable.  I can live with that.

Oldest Son and his friend are making frequent trips to our local Sam's Club.  Each time I give them a short list, throw some cash at them and they bring home what I need.  I am slowly but surely filling in the gaps in my food storage with the items I can't make myself - flour, sugar, baking powder, cases of cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup, etc.  Trouble is, I had no room to store it all.  So Son got me another shelving unit.  The two I have are both full of home canned food.  The new one is the same size as the others - 72 inches high and 48 inches wide.  He is coming over tomorrow to help me set it up.  Which is a good thing because the stuff from the last Sam's haul is still on my kitchen table for want of a place to store it!

It rained here most of the night last night but today was sunny and pleasantly warm.  The fall leaves are turning colors faster now, especially the maples that are now nearly all a brilliant orange.  We haven't had a frost as yet, but I'm sure that's not too far off.  I opened windows in my apartment today to let in some of that beautifully clean fall air.  This is the kind of day that will be remembered in February when the ground is covered with a white blanket and the wind is howling down the street and around the corner.

My days are not very exciting.  There is no drama.  There is no stress.  They just move along peacefully.  I am aware of the fact that the world is in a turmoil and we as Americans are in trouble.  I check the alternate news sources and see how much mud the presidential candidates have thrown at one another each day or how many ginned up protest marches have taken place.  I read about the latest politically correct fad to hit the college campuses and about the spreading disrespect for our flag and anthem among some of the athletes, both in the professional ranks as well as in some schools.  And I know there is precious little I can do about any of it, aside from an occasional rant.

Even with all the garbage going on, there are still good people around us.  I read their blogs.  I watch their videos.  I converse with them through the comments here or by email.  And I talk to them on the rare occasion I am out and about.  I have family who fall into that category of good people, and for that I am truly thankful.  It is those good people who give me a glimmer of hope for our future.  I just can't give up.  I am old enough to remember what life used to be like and I need to hope that by some miracle it will be that way again.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Babushkas

A couple of blocks away next to the river is a large apartment building, several stories high, that has been there for as long as I can remember.  There is a street that runs between the building and the steep river bank.  There is a sidewalk on the river side of the street with some narrow areas of grass between the sidewalk and the trees that grow at the top of the river bank.

There are several Russian families living there, most of them elderly.  Five of the ladies can be seen walking together when the weather is nice for walking.  They walk slowly so the one who uses a walker can keep up.  They all wear dark colored dresses and sensible shoes.  And each of them wears a brightly colored head scarf that is tied under the chin.  Which is why I fondly refer to them as "The Babushkas."

These sweet little ladies try really hard to converse in English.  But when they are talking to one another, it is always in Russian.  I think it probably is not easy to learn another language at their age.  They are so friendly that it is easy to take the time to listen and attempt to understand their broken English.  Their smiles will light up a dreary day.

The Babushkas are an industrious group.  I have seen them working the soil in those narrow strips of grass, turning them into little gardens.  With spades and rakes, the four who are mobile get the soil ready in the spring.  The one with the walker supervises.  They plant all sorts of flowers next to the sidewalk - daisies, marigolds, zinnias.

Behind the flowers they plant tomatoes, peppers, beets, green beans and cabbage.  I have often seen them out there tending their little gardens.  They are happy to show anyone who is interested what they are growing.  They once tried to teach me the Russian names for the plants, but I didn't do too well remembering them.  My efforts at wrapping my tongue round the Russian words made them laugh, so it was fun, just the trying to say them.

I read an article not too long ago about another group of immigrants living not very far from here.  That group had several among them convicted of terrorist activities.  The families of the convicted were loudly protesting.  They were shouting about how unfair they felt American justice was.  Threats and demands abounded.

I think we could use more Babushkas.

Monday, September 26, 2016

It has been one of those weeks...

when little or nothing has been accomplished.  I have been a little bit under the weather.  Not sick, really.  Just kind of tired.  I have been napping more than usual but I finally am feeling more awake.  I managed to cook and wash dishes and do some laundry, but that has been the extent of my ambition the last few days.  On the Up Side, my legs are healing nicely.  I didn't have to bandage the right leg this week and the left one is nearly healed as well.  I would do a happy dance, but chances are pretty good that I would do myself a mischief if I tried.

It is fun having one of my kids living next door.  Oldest Son popped in to see how I was doing.  And to plunder my shelves of home canned food.  He said he was making beef stew for their supper this evening and wanted to know if I would like some.  Answering like a true Minnesotan I said, "Yeah, sure.  You betcha!"  Said I would trade a bowl of stew for a mess of baking powder biscuits.  I think I am getting the better of that deal.  

I finally had to turn the heat on here in my little apartment, just to take the chill off.  The forecast this week is for temps in the 60's during the days and in the 40's at night.  Won't be long before the trees down by the river will be a blaze of color.  The Farmer's Almanac is predicting an average fall through October, but after that we can expect a colder than normal winter with lots of snow.  I think I will ask Son to get me another 100 lbs. of flour and maybe 50 lbs. of sugar from Sam's.  Now that I am back to baking bread, I don't want to be running out of flour.  There are only a couple more items I need to stock and I will be ready for winter.  When the temps are below zero and the snow is blowing, nobody needs to be going out to the store.  That's what deep pantries are for.

So I am off to catch up on everything I let slide this past week.  Ah, well.  At least I will be too busy to find any mischief.  I may be old, but I'm not dead - yet.  Mischief is still occasionally a distinct possibility.  :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A True Minnesotan...

will heat up the leftover Tater Tot Hotdish at 8 AM and call it breakfast.  Don't ask me how I know this.

Elsewhere people will bake a casserole for supper.  Here in Minnesota a casserole is the dish used for baking and hotdish is what goes into the casserole.

Hotdish appears in church basements after a funeral or at church suppers and family reunions.  Every farm wife worth her salt has a favorite hotdish recipe.  They usually consist of a meat, a vegetable, a starch and a can or two of cream of whatever soup.

Here's mine.

Tater Tot Hotdish

1 pint jar (or 1 lb. browned) hamburger
1 pint jar (or 1 can) mixed vegetables
2 cans cream soup (chicken or mushroom or celery or a combination)
Tater Tots to cover the top

Layer the above ingredients in a casserole dish.  Like onions?  Toss some in with the vegetables.  Same with mushrooms.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Leftovers can be heated up for breakfast the next day.  :)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Oh, Say Can You See...

I thought about doing a rant about the football players who are dishonoring our country by refusing to show any respect for the playing of our National Anthem before the games.

I thought about pointing out the disrespect being shown to those who fought, were wounded and died defending this land we love.

I thought about remarking on how I found it difficult to rationalize a protest for justice from those making millions to play a game.

I thought about reminding these over paid athletes that they are in the position of being role models to the high school and college kids who are now staging similar protests.

I thought about pointing out that at one time the music and words of that song and the sight of our flag were enough to make hearts swell with pride, knowing that they represented our great nation.

But then I thought about the freedoms those two symbols of America represent.  They represent our right of free speech.  They represent our right to peaceful protest.  They represent all of our God given rights that we still enjoy today.

Including the right of a multi-millionaire football player to make a complete ass of himself.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


I remember going on short trips with my Dad.  He liked to take shortcuts.  He usually got lost.

Same thing sort of applies to canning tomato juice.

The method I have used in the past is to dunk the tomatoes in boiling water until the skins crack.  Then transfer them to a sink full of cold water to cool them down.  Next I would peel, core and run them through a food mill to get rid of the seeds.  What was left was thick tomato juice that I would simmer for 15 minutes, ladle into jars and water bath can for 35 - 40 minutes.

But today I decided to take a shortcut.  I cored the tomatoes, cut them into large chunks and ran them through my blender.  Now, it might have helped if I had the good sense to taste some of the resulting pureed tomatoes, but I didn't.  Not until I had blended the whole 50 lbs worth, minus those we ate.

Turns out it is not as bad as it sounds.  The result of my efforts was that I have 25 pints and 12 quarts of a cross between crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce.  I can use this in any number of recipes calling for tomatoes.  And if I am not fussy about having tiny lumps in my tomato juice, I can drink it as well.

But I should have remembered Dad and his shortcuts.  They rarely turn out as planned.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fifty pounds of tomatoes...

have found their way into my kitchen.  Oldest Son and his friend made a Farmer's Market run earlier today.  The tomatoes are gorgeous - not a bad one in the bunch and at just the right ripeness.  I sent some home with Son and I'm saving out half a dozen to eat.  I thought $15 per 25 lb. box was a pretty good price. Tomatoes are being turned into juice as we speak.  I'll be back tomorrow when I have them all canned up.

I just love these locally grown tomatoes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

For My Records...

Three slightly heaping cups of chopped onions will fill one dehydrator tray.  10 lbs. of onions will fill 10 trays.  The trays have the plastic mesh liners to keep the onions from falling through as they dry and shrink.  The onions are not blanched and are dried at 135 degrees.  Drying time depends on several things - the kind of onion - the outdoor temperature and humidity - whether I am running the air conditioning or the heat in the apartment.  And if I use one dehydrator or divide the trays between two.  I keep a window open in the room where the dehydrators are in order to try to let the odors escape and that makes a difference as well.  The onions in this batch were huge - 11 onions made up the 10 lbs., so the dices are a bit thicker than if the onions had been smaller.  I use my Vidalia Food Chopper to dice the onions.  One of the best investments in kitchen gadgets ever.

My grocery order was phoned in today.  The store had frozen vegetables on sale.  I am pretty well set with most, but am needing broccoli, so I ordered a dozen 1 lb. bags.  I will keep one or two bags in the freezer for eating and dehydrate the rest.

Oldest Son's friend got a membership for Sam's Club.  They went there yesterday to look around and picked up a couple of items for me in the process.  When they got home, they brought over my items and we sat and talked for a while.  We had talked earlier about ordering half a beef this fall.  Son was telling me about what was available at Sam's.  As much as I like the idea of ordering beef, I am not enamoured with writing a large check.  Were I independently wealthy it would not bother me.  I'm not.  Plus the fact that included in an order would be several cuts of beef that I normally do not buy.  I can most of the meat I buy, saving out a little to eat fresh.  I checked out Sam's website and found Sam's carries everything I would normally buy.  And the prices are reasonable.  The more we discussed the pros and cons, the more it made sense to buy the beef we want , a little at a time, at Sam's.  That way I can get just what I want in the amounts I want.  And I can stay on budget.

So I spent part of today going through Sam's website and making out a list of what I need to get my food storage where I want it to be.  The list includes items other than meat, like sugar and flour and oatmeal and rice as well as things like aluminum foil and freezer bags and toilet paper.  And possibly a box or two of Little Debbie Nutty Bars.   Or maybe a big bag of M & M's.

Life is always better if there is chocolate involved.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Nearly everyone remembers...

where they were when the first plane hit the tower.  We remember watching our TV's as the horror unfolded.  We felt the gut wrenching pain of realizing there were so many who didn't make it out before the buildings collapsed.  And it became worse when it dawned on us that the police and firefighters and emergency medical people who had rushed in to save lives had now lost theirs.  And on top of the tragedy of the towers came the news of another plane plowing into the Pentagon.  And still another crash in Pennsylvania.

America was battered.  America was bruised.  But America was by no means defeated.  Three firemen raised our flag at Ground Zero.  And we as a people came together.  Race didn't matter.  Religion didn't matter.  Social standing didn't matter.  We were Americans, one and all.

Today we remember.  We remember the mind numbing pictures of destruction.  We remember those whose lives were taken.  We remember the heroes of that day.  And we remember who caused this tragedy.

But most of all, we need to remember that we can come together as a nation.  As a people who love our country and who love our flag and all it stands for.  And we need to do so again.

Friday, September 9, 2016

I was sure...

that I would be writing this post from the hospital.  But the gods smiled down on me and I am writing from the comfort of my cozy little apartment.

Cellulitis is an insidious disease.  I think everything is fine and then Blam--- I discover the signs of it just above my ankles.  Within a couple of days I have large, open, weeping sores on both legs.  The trick is to keep these patches from becoming badly infected.  I can not manage that alone, so Oldest Son shows up twice a week to help me change the bandages.  This is in addition to helping me with the compression socks I have to wear all the time.  They are difficult to pull on in the best of circumstances and I don't bend all that well any more.  Lucky for me, he lives next door and is willing to help.  It is not a pleasant task.

I had an appointment to see my family Dr. yesterday morning.  Youngest Son took me there.  Because my feet are very swollen and shoes don't fit just now, a wheelchair was needed to keep my socks from shredding on the concrete and to navigate hallways and office rooms.  I rode.  Son drove.  He only whacked a doorway once.  I fully expected him to try a wheelie, but he refrained.  :)

The Dr. looked at my legs, told me to continue what I had been doing as far as treating them, gave me instructions on how to reduce the swelling, added yet another pill to my already full prescription list and sent me home.  I am not happy about adding more medication, but I will go along with it for now.  I am thrilled to be home and not in the hospital where I was the last time I had an outbreak.  Thing is, I really do not play well with others.  I love being with family but other than that, I am not one who needs to be surrounded by people all the time.  And a hospital setting is a particular kind of hell for me.

So...I am off to the kitchen.  I have a large stock pot in the fridge full of crab apple pulp waiting to be turned into jam.  And 10 lbs. of onions need to go into the dehydrators.

By the way, my bread machine works like a charm.  I have made three loaves so for me and one for each of my boys.  The bread is delicious.  Oldest Son says it makes really, really good French toast.  Sometime today I will make another loaf for myself and maybe a couple of batches of cinnamon rolls.  I haven't used the baking feature, but am using the dough feature, putting the dough into pans and baking it in my oven.  Bread making has never been easier.  I just layer the ingredients, liquids first and then the dry ingredients with the flour on top and the yeast last.  Wish I had thought to invest in one of these machines years ago.  I didn't, but I am thoroughly enjoying it now!

Note to Chickenmom who wanted recipes:  I just used the basic white bread recipe that came with the machine, but I am sure any yeast bread or roll recipe will work just fine.  The instructions call for bread flour and bread yeast, but I just use all-purpose flour and regular dry yeast because that is what I have on hand.  Didn't seem to make any difference because the loaves raised nicely, baked just fine and were tasty.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Another Grand Heard From

Phone rings yesterday.  Granddaughter Maddie Mae is calling.  There is no particular reason for the call.  She tells me about her gymnastic classes and about her first day in the 7th grade.  She asks what I have been doing so I tell her about making bread and crab apple jam.  She thinks that's cool.  She laughs at me when I tell her I stole the first day of school pictures her Dad posted on Facebook.

Boston - 9th Grade

Maddie - 7th Grade

Jacob - 3rd Grade

I love it when one of my Grands calls to share some exciting news.  But I also love it when they call just to chat a bit with Grandma.  They live on the other side of the city and are so busy with school, sports and all the things that keep families busy these days that I don't see them all that often.  But being able to talk with them now and then via phone calls keeps me connected and that is a good thing.

After chatting with Maddie I talked with her Dad for a little while.  He asked how I was liking my new kitchen toy and I told him that so far I liked it fine.  He is taking me to an appointment tomorrow.  He mentioned how much his kids liked the homemade buns I occasionally supplied for family get-togethers.  He was of the opinion that perhaps his family should test the bread I made using the machine.  Wanted to make sure it was as good as I said it was!  So this evening I will make another loaf and send it home with him tomorrow.

My life is not jam packed with excitement or drama.  But it is full of these little snippets in time that make it well worth living.  I will take a call from a Grand over excitement or drama any day of the week.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Woke this morning...

to the sounds of rolling thunder and raindrops.  A look at the radar tells me there will be more of the same today.  There doesn't seem to be any wind involved so there is no real threat of storms.  Just a nice, soaking fall rain.

Oldest Son and his friend brought my bread machine over yesterday.  I was busy with other things so I haven't tried it out yet.  But if it works as well as advertised, I can see lots of loaves of homemade bread in my future.

They brought me an added bonus of two very full plastic grocery bags of crab apples they had picked for me while they were up north.  We took a vote and the results were that crab apple jelly would be the best way to use the apples.

So after one more cup of coffee, just to get my heart kick started, I am off to the kitchen to do a test run with the bread machine and to get going on turning crab apples into juice for jelly.  Looks like a busy day ahead of me.  :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hi Grandma...

the voice on the other end of the line said.  "It's Boston."

I love it when the Grands call me.

"I'm so excited," she said.  "I got chosen to do a tap dance solo!"

Boston recently changed dance studios.  The one where she is now is smaller, but has an excellent instructor.  She is learning all sorts of new things.  Boston is a really good dancer, having been in competitions for six of her 14 years, usually performing tap dance numbers.

Boston's first competition in 2010.

April 2016 competition.

That she is so excited about her dancing and the new things she is learning tells me that the right choice was made when she and her parents made the decision to switch studios.

Boston went on to tell me that her sister Maddie was busy with her gymnastics classes and her brother Jacob had finished flag football for the summer and was starting practice for "real" tackle football.

"I was just so excited about my solo that I had to call and tell you about it, Grandma."

I'm so glad you did, Boston.  You made my day!

Love, Grandma

Life Rolls On

This is a quiet time of year for me.  The fall produce at the Farmer's Market - cabbage, apples, and squash - aren't quite ready, so my canning and dehydrating has slowed down until probably mid-September.  I did order 10 lbs of onions that are on sale, so Thursday I will get them to drying.  I seem to go through more onions than anything else.

This summer has been a stinker for arthritis flare-ups.  One would think that our bitter winters would be a worse time, but the opposite is true.  Maybe it is the humidity.  I don't know.  At any rate,  we are having a bit of a cool down, with temps in the mid to high 70's, and that has helped.  I have an appointment with my Dr. next week.  They won't write refill prescriptions unless you show up and donate some blood to test so they can tell you nothing has changed.  I wish it was like it used to be.  We went to the Dr. when we got sick.  Instead we are being held hostage to our need for refills.  Sigh.

Has anyone but me noticed that Doctors seem to want to just throw another prescription drug at you instead of discussing alternatives for a problem?  I am up to four different pills every day, most of which I think are unnecessary.  I have been reading about an herb called Moringa that is good for everything I am taking meds for at the moment.  Including arthritis.  It is readily available like over-the-counter vitamins.  Has anyone ever tried this herb?  I am thinking of giving it a try.  I would much rather go with an herbal remedy than prescription drugs.  Especially when there are no known side effects.  Ever read those reports that come with each prescription drug?  There are more side effect warnings than information on the benefits of them.  That alone seems to be a good reason to go with an alternative.

I'm excited.  I have been thinking about getting a bread machine.  I already have a Kitchen Aid mixer, but my counter space is so small that it isn't practical to leave it out.  It is too heavy to live on top of my freezer, which is the only space available.  But a bread machine could sit there, no problem.  And with my limitations, kneading bread is becoming difficult.  Seemed like a good solution for someone who prefers homemade bread to store bought.

Anyway, I mentioned this to my son's friend the other day when she dropped by for a visit.  She told me that her Dad was in the process of downsizing and she was sure he had one he was going to put on his upcoming garage sale.  A phone call confirmed this.  The machine is like new, having been used only a couple of times.  Son and his friend are going to see him this coming weekend where he lives in the northern part of the state.  They will check out the machine to make sure all the parts are there and that it works.  So with any kind of luck, I will be baking bread Monday.  Woo Hoo!!

Takes very little to make me a happy camper.  :)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Most Times...

I am perfectly content with my life.

But today I am not content.  It might have something to do with our local news reporting about the abduction, rape and murder of a sweet little five year old girl at the hands of a "family friend."  Or maybe it was the story of a father beating his two year old child to a bloody pulp.  Or perhaps it was just the reports of the latest "protest" in Minneapolis turning violent and ugly.  Could have been the alternative news sources jam-packed with tales of lies and corruption associated with our government.  Whatever the reason, I would like to check out just for today..

I would like to be here...

or here...

or here.

Perhaps tomorrow will be better.  At least, I have hope that it will.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Walking the Walk

I have a confession to make.  I am not nearly as prepared as I would like to think I am.  I realized this when I discovered I didn't even have a nine volt battery in the house for the smoke alarm, and when I had to wait a day or two before I could do some canning because I had allowed my stash of canning lids to nearly run out.  I know these are only two small things, but if I don't have on hand this small, necessary  stuff, then it stands to reason that I am probably lacking in some of the bigger, more important supplies.

Minnesota can be beautiful in the winter with a blanket of snow on the ground and the tree branches covered in frost.

But Mother Nature can turn mean and throw a blizzard at us almost in the blink of an eye.  The Halloween blizzard in 1991 featured wind gusts up to 60 mph.  My area received over 28 inches of snow and other areas got over 36 inches of the white stuff before the storm blew itself out, leaving 10 foot snow drifts in many places.  I have seen temperatures drop into the minus 30 degree range during the first week of November.  Mother Nature can give us some glorious days, but she can also sneak up on us and smack us upside the head, just to remind us who is really in charge.

It is the memory of those winter conditions that should have made me pay better attention to my preps.  I am well stocked in some areas like home canned and dehydrated foods.  I have water stored, but not nearly enough.  And I have yet to buy a decent water filter system.  I have medical supplies stashed away, but recently realized I didn't have enough of the supplies I needed to treat cellulitis, which if left untreated, can become life threatening.  And I don't have nearly enough of common medical needs like aspirin or vitamins.

Seems I am better at talking the talk than I am at walking the walk.

It doesn't matter much what a person is preparing for.   Each of us have a scenario in mind.  Could be our economy winds up in the dumpster.   Might be we get a bat-guano crazy elected president this time around.  Or that jokester Mother Nature may just toss us curve ball.  Maybe nothing will happen, in which case we will have what we need on hand without having to run to the store every couple of days.

Sometimes I have been known to use the excuse of my age or my medical conditions to put off what I need to do.  That is really stupid.  Should my grands show up here in a crisis, (And they will.  Grandma is the one with all the extra food.) how on earth will I look them in the eye if I don't have the basics of what they need.  After all, it is for them and my children that I prepare.  Oh, I prepare for myself, too, but Moms tend to do for family first.  That's how we are wired.

So if you will excuse me, I need to get busy.  It seems I have some work to do.