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 maybe......my 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.