Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Years Eve Reflections

They say the older you get, the faster time seems to pass.  They are right.  2017 slid on by at warp speed.

The New Years celebrations of my youth were pretty tame affairs.  Mother, being a very religious woman and a teetotaler to boot, made sure our celebrations included nothing more exciting to drink than Hawaiian Punch.  She made oyster stew as a treat for Dad and a big pot of chili for the rest of us who considered oyster stew something not to be consumed but should be buried in the back yard.

After supper the board games were brought out and rousing games of Sorry or Yahtzee or Scrabble were played.  A big bowl of popcorn accompanied the games.  Sometimes Dad would cook up a batch of molasses taffy or maybe a pan of fudge.  The leftover Christmas cookies were brought out, insuring that sugar highs would keep us awake until midnight.

My family didn't have a television until I was in high school, so we listened to the radio track the new year until it reached our old farmhouse in Minnesota.  Sometimes we stayed awake to welcome the new year and sometimes, not.  Depended on how much candy and cookies were available.  If we were lucky, we would hear 'Auld Lang Syne' played half a dozen times.

I don't make New Years Resolutions.  I learned at an early age that resolutions had a life span of maybe a week.  Now I just remember the good times past and look forward to the new year.

Tonight will be a quiet night for me.  I am a bit lazy today so meals consist of opening jars.  Ham and bean soup for lunch and chili for supper.  There will be crocheting on my grandson's afghan, possibly a bowl of popcorn, watching the ball drop in Times Square and some listening to the police scanner, which can get exciting on this holiday.

I wish for all of you a very Happy New Year, no matter how you celebrate.  May it bring you peace and joy.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas Memories

This time of year my mind tends to wander back through the years to visit Christmas Past.

There was the time in about 1950 when my Dad lost his job in northern Minnesota.  The decision was made to stay with my maternal grandmother in St. Paul, where Dad would likely have a better chance for employment.  Money was tight, but Dad found a way to make Christmas special.

We walked a couple of blocks to Snelling Avenue where we caught a streetcar.  You young ones don't even know what a streetcar is, do you.  It is like a passenger car on a train only smaller.  It ran on tracks built into the city streets.

We rode the streetcar to downtown St. Paul where all the big department stores were located.  This was before shopping malls.  Each store had big display windows and each store tried to have a better display than their competitors.  There were Santas and elves and reindeer and toys and most everything was animated so it moved.  There were Christmas lights everywhere and to a little girl it was a magical fairyland.

Grandma's Christmas tree was a marvel, filled with lights and old glass ornaments she had collected over the years.  She even had some bubble lights.  Remember them?

The best part were the little mesh bags that hung from the branches, filled with chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil.

I take that back.  The best part was Grandma, who laughed and wouldn't let Mother scold me when I got caught playing in her flour bin.  Grandma, who had an ample lap just right for snuggling a small granddaughter.  Grandma, who lived until my 30th year and who I still miss, especially this time of year.

As a young girl, my family always had a real tree for Christmas.  Except for the one year when Dad came home with what was the newest modern tree.  It was made of silver foil.  Looked like several rolls of tin foil had exploded.  Mother decorated it with pink glass ornaments.  We were hip.

That tree gave a whole new meaning to the word 'ugly.'  I believe it went on the garage sale in the spring.

When my own children were young, I had a real tree, cut down from the woods surrounding our home.  There were few real ornaments, but we made up for that with tinsel.

I set out big bowls of popcorn and a bowl of cranberries, gave the kids darning needles and strong thread and set them to making garlands that we wound around the tree.  After Christmas we hung the garlands on the bushes outside for the birds.

We filled in the tree decorations with candy canes and homemade gingerbread men.  I used those small, round, red cinnamon candies for the features and buttons down the fronts of the cookies.  I don't think my kids ever found out where I hid the candies until it was time to bake.  By the time Christmas Eve rolled around, the lower branches of the tree were naked, having been stripped of candy canes and gingerbread men.

It is good to remember those times.  But it isn't about trees or decorations or presents.  It is about the birth of our Lord and about time spent with those we love.  I will be with my children and grands on Saturday evening.  Christmas Day Duane and I will share a ham dinner while the others celebrate with their own families or in-laws.  I am glad that my children have so many in their extended families with whom to share the joy of the season.

I am taking a bit of a vacation from blogging until after the New Year.  I wish for all of you, my friends, that you are blessed not only now but throughout the year.

Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

This Cleaning Lady Thing

So my cleaning lady called to ask if she could come in Monday rather than our agreed upon Thursday.  I had cancelled last Thursday because the city chose that day to shut off the water to this building.  I keep a supply of water in old 2-liter soda bottles and juice bottles, but thought that to be too awkward for her first time here, especially since there were floors to be mopped.

I have to say I think I will like this cleaning lady thing.  Never in all of my 71 years have I had someone in to help with household chores.  My kids all had chores to do when they were young - wash and dry the dishes, haul out the trash, clean their rooms.  But to have someone deal with everything else is pure bliss.

The lady did a wonderful job.  My nasty old kitchen floor shines and my bathroom sparkles.  The dust is gone from my bookshelves. 

I think I am being spoiled.  And I like it.  :)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Here Today - Gone Tomorrow

The city workers in the town where I live have been busy for the past week at the Town Hall, located across the street from my apartment.  The two story building takes up about a third of the city block along the street where I live.  Barriers were erected, people wearing hard hats were scurrying about and the water was turned off for part of the day last Thursday.  I didn't pay a whole lot of attention.  Until this morning.

I was enjoying my first cup of coffee of the day while scanning the news headlines and perusing some of the blogs I read daily, when I heard the sound of a crash, coming from the street below.  This was no ordinary crash, but was loud and long and sounded like someone was dumping great quantities of cans and bottles into the middle of the street.  Nosy person that I am, I went to the window to see what was going on.

To my amazement I saw a giant backhoe that was taking huge bites out of the building.  The crash I heard had been the collapse of one of the outer brick walls.  I watched the progress off and on throughout the day.  The machine kept taking down chunks of the building.  The work had begun about 8 AM and by 4 PM there was nothing left but a mountain of rubble.

I guess I lied when I said nothing ever happens in my corner of the world.  I can't hardly wait to see what happens next.  :)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

What Makes Us Happy

I don't watch TV.  I do watch news programs, movies and read stories, blogs, etc. on my computer.  Nearly everything I see has ads telling me how much happier my life would be if only I bought their product.

That got me to thinking about what, exactly, does it take to make me happy, and I found it has little to do with the purchase of goods.  Oh, I do like my kitchen gadgets as much as anyone else and I could do some serious damage to my budget in a fabric store or a yarn shop, but for the most part my happiness has nothing to do with spending money.

Some of the things that make me happy are:

The words "I love you, Mom."

The phone call from a grand that starts out with, "Guess what, Grandma!"

The first cup of coffee each morning.

A cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter evening, especially if it is made using my homemade mix with malt powder in it.

Cornbread fresh from the oven.

Watching the snow fall from the window in my cozy apartment.

Reading a good murder mystery book that keeps me up all night so I can find out 'who done it.'

Working on an afghan I know my long, tall grandson will like.

Sewing quilts that one day will keep my family warm.

Looking at the hundreds of jars full of food that insures my family will not go hungry in a crisis.

Going through the old family photos that sometimes make me smile and sometimes make me cry, missing those who are no longer here, but always make me remember the good times.

Reading and answering the comments from friends who stop by here now and then.

I don't need that new car or that ocean cruise or that expensive whatever to make me happy.  My heart is full with what I already have.

Monday, December 4, 2017

A New Project

Whenever a grandchild of mine graduates from High School, they receive a crocheted afghan from their Grandma.  My third grand, Zach, graduates in the spring.  I asked his Mom, my daughter Jill, to pick out the yarn for me.  She knows better the colors he would like.  This is what she brought me yesterday.  (The pictures aren't very good, but at least they will give you an idea of colors and patterns.)

I wasn't quite sure just what to do with them.  I only do the Granny Square pattern.  It is easy to do and if I try to crochet a pattern that involves counting stitches or rows, I tend to get lost or mess it up.  I experimented with several variations and decided I liked this one the best.

Each square is 7.5 inches across, so it will take at least 81 squares plus a good sized border to make the afghan big enough to cover my 6 ft. tall grandson.

I suppose I could just buy a graduation gift or give my grands cash.  And I don't expect them, at that age, to appreciate a handmade gift.  But when they are older, they might like to have something their Grandma made just for them.  I know I would.

Saturday, December 2, 2017


I usually moan and groan that nothing exciting ever happens here.  I stand corrected.

Last evening I had just finished with supper when I heard a commotion in the street in front of my building.  Curiosity got the best of me and I went to the window to find out what was going on.

When I looked out I saw a pickup truck decorated with Christmas lights pulling a float with even more lights.  This was followed by another truck and float.  I was watching a Christmas parade!

There were at least 15 floats, all lit up and carrying people who were tossing candy to the kids lining the street with their parents.  There was a dance studio group full of kids in costumes that had the Christmas lights on them.  They danced on down the street to the sounds of Christmas music.  The local fire department was having a good time walking along giving out candy and they were followed by one of the fire trucks, completely covered in lights.  There was a group of kids on bikes who had strings of lights woven in and around the spokes of the wheels.  There was a decorated snowmobile on wheels (no snow here as yet) pulling a decorated cart holding a small Christmas tree.  I'll bet I saw at least four Santas.

About a half hour after the parade had passed by I heard horse's hooves clip clopping on the pavement.  There was a team of horses pulling what looked like a long hay wagon full of kids and their parents.  And standing in the street outside my window was Santa himself, talking to the kids and posing for pictures.

Did I mention the fireworks?  There were fireworks as good as the ones on the 4th of July.

Each year my town puts up a huge Christmas tree in the center of the downtown area.  On the first Friday in December, they have a tree lighting ceremony followed by rides in the horse drawn wagons.  But this is the first year they have held a Christmas Parade.  Or had a fireworks display.

It was fun to watch the families enjoying the razzle dazzle of the parade.  And I think I had just as much fun as the kids, watching the parade pass by under my window.  I hope it becomes an annual tradition.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Dealing With Change

I am old.  I do not like change. 

When I was young, changes in routine were welcome.  The excitement of new places, new adventures, new people were all welcome.  Today.....not so much.

A few short weeks ago I saw my kids now and then, saw the grocery delivery guy twice a month and that was pretty much it.  And I liked it that way.  There are folks who feel the need to be surrounded by friends and family continually.  I am not one of them.   There are those who retire and then find themselves bored to death.  I am not one of those, either.  I have many interests - quilt making, crocheting, scrapbooking, reading, genealogy research, food preservation, etc.  Finding ways to occupy my time has never been a problem. 

Living alone and being alone have never bothered me.  I have often thought that in another life I might have made a pretty decent hermit.    As long as my kids and grands check in from time to time, I am happy. 

Then came the time when I had to reach out for help.  Now I still have the grocery delivery guy here every other Thursday afternoon.  Tuesdays and Fridays are reserved for the nurses who come in to deal with the care of my legs.  And yesterday I met with the lady who will be cleaning my apartment every Thursday morning.

It is like Grand Central Station, I tell ya!

I am grateful for the help.  And so far the people who flow in and out of my home seem like nice folks.  But I find that keeping my sense of humor in good working order seems to help.  My youngest son always teased me about checking my busy calendar to see if I was free on a specific day, knowing full well that I was free as a bird any day of the week.

It now appears the joke is on him.  :)