Wednesday, October 16, 2013

We have a name

Thanks to suggestions from Betty and Chicagolady, our Casita now has a name.  I had been toying with the idea of holding a Casita naming contest, but that turns out to not be necessary.

Betty suggested Cassie or Marshmallow and I loved both names.  Then Chicagolady suggested Tubby.  Be still my heart.  We have a Tubby!

Thank you Betty and Chicagolady.  You are the best!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Maiden Voyage

We chose to stay relatively close to home for our first outing with our Casita.  Our son, Greg, and his family, often camp with friends at Arrow Rock State Park, and were gracious enough to let us crash their party.

Arrow rock has been a favorite day destination for us for many years.  This year the trip was about the campground experience, rather than the charming little town.  For those who are interested, though, I stole this information from the town's official web site. 

For generations, the Arrow Rock bluff was a significant landmark on the Missouri River for Native Americans, explorers, and early westward travelers. This flint-bearing, high limestone bluff first appeared on a 1732 French map as “pierre a fleche,” literally translated as “rock of arrows.” Archaeological evidence shows that for nearly 12,000 years indigenous cultures used the Arrow Rock bluff as a manufacturing site for flint tools and weapons.
Following the War of 1812 and the subsequent peace treaties with Indians in 1815, large numbers of immigrants from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia began pouring into the fertile “Boone's Lick Country,” so named for the salt spring or “lick” across the river.
In the 1820s, the earliest travelers on what became the Santa Fe Trail crossed the river on the Arrow Rock ferry and filled their water barrels with fresh water at “the Big Spring” before heading west. In 1829, the town of Arrow Rock was founded on the bluff above the ferry crossing. Originally named Philadelphia, the town's name was changed in 1833 to coincide with the better-known landmark name, Arrow Rock.
Many citizens prominent in state and national affairs were closely associated with Arrow Rock including Dr. John Sappington of quinine fame and George Caleb Bingham, Missouri's preeminent artist of the mid-1800s. Three 19th century Missouri governors also came from Arrow Rock.
When the Civil War began, Arrow Rock had reached its peak population of 1,000. The region had a decidedly southern character evidenced in its culture, politics and architecture. One-third of Saline County's population was enslaved African Americans. The Civil War precipitated an economic decline from which Arrow Rock never fully recovered. Steamboats and river commerce gave way to railroads that bypassed the town. Two fires devastated the business district, and the population dwindled to 400 by 1910. Today, 45 full-time and 33 part-time residents call Arrow Rock home.
While the village is small, don't be fooled by its size. Arrow Rock remains a vital community. The restoration of the Huston Tavern in 1923 marked the beginning of historic preservation in the state of Missouri and set the stage for Arrow Rock's future. In 1963, the entire town was designated a National Historic Landmark because of its association with the Westward Expansion. In 1968, the home of artist George Caleb Bingham was listed separately as a National Historic Landmark. Arrow Rock is also a certified site on the Lewis & Clark and Santa Fe Trails.
The campground was relatively full and we were definitely a small fish in a big pond. 

Is it my imagination, or is the truck longer than the Casita?  Can you see the blue lights around the belly band of the camper?  Cute, huh.

I think our granddaughter, Anna, said it best.  She said she "just looks for the upside down bathtub".
It is amazing the amount of attention our little guy generates.   People are just fascinated by its size.

For comparison sake, here is Greg and Alicia's RV.  Now this is an RV!  They camp a lot with 2 kids in tow.  It is their home away from home.

Greg and Alicia, Tessa and Bill, and their families showed up to roast hot dogs and marshmallows.  Yes, Arrow Rock is close enough that Tessa and their families could show up for an evening of fun and then head right back home.

Solving the world's problems.
We had so much fun our first time out with our little Casita.  We need to come up with a name for her.  Thank you Greg and Alicia for including us with your friends and for showing us the ropes of camping luxury style!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

New Toy

Jim says he misses my blog.  All together now, "Awwww that's sweet".  It IS sweet!  When he said that, it made me realize that I miss my blog.  It is time to get back into the blogosphere.  

We bought a new toy since the last time I posted.  My friend Patti at Osage Bluff Quilter and her husband, BT, bought a Casita RV a year or two ago.  We checked it out and thought it was pretty cool.  It is compact and lightweight, making it easy to pull, but still has the comforts we want (toilet/shower, kitchenette/table, bed, and AC/Heat)  Ever since, we've cussed and discussed getting a Casita like theirs.  Conversations took place like "We've been wanting to tour the national park sites - what better way to do it" or "Greg and Alicia have an RV - this would let us do a little camping with them without intruding on their space" or "If we had an RV we could easily take the Demon Dog with us".  The conversations were endless until finally Jim became obsessed with finding us a used Casita.  That task should be easy enough, right?  Wrong!  Every time he found one that fit the bill of what we wanted he'd call, only to find out it had already been snatched up.  He finally spotted one in Indiana.  And it was still available!  We talked to the guy and found that he made a hobby/business in his retirement of buying Casita's, adding his own twist to them, and selling them.  We decided it was worth a jaunt to Indiana to check it out.

This Casita (I think it is a 2009) was originally owned by two ladies who bought it so they could tour Canada.  After several months on the road they returned home only to have one of them take ill and die.  It sat in a hay barn for a couple of years before our buddy Roy (we now fondly call him Roy Boy) brokered it for the lady.  

Thanks to road work and horrendous traffic in East St. Louis, Illinois, we arrived at Roy's much later than we had anticipated.  Since we were pretty certain we were going to buy this little gem, we had even scoped out camp grounds close by so that we didn't have to go far before it got dark.  Roy had that all figured out, though.  After he had showed off his pride and joy and convinced us it should be ours, we told him we needed to get going.  He would have none of that.  He already had us hooked into his electricity so we could spend the night in his back yard.  Now that was unexpected!

Roy was a character.  Some of his gems (selling points?) was that the bathroom was haunted.  Every time he went in there he saw an old man looking at him.  The next morning he asked me if I had spotted the old man during the night.  I told him no, there was an old woman haunting the place now....

He had installed "mood lighting" through the tubes that run around the inside perimeter of the Casita.  He was most proud of these lights.  They are white tube lights strung through the tubes and connected to a dimmer switch.  Roy was adamant that we couldn't check those lights out until he was gone because, "He couldn't be held responsible for what might happen when those "mood lights" came on.  (I'll never tell...)

The selling point for me was the mattress.  My one fear of RV life was having to sleep on back breaking foam mattresses.  When I expressed that concern, Roy conveniently remembered he had a high end custom made for a Casita mattress in his basement.  According to Roy it was valued at $800.  When I saw it, I knew this would make all the difference in the world.  Once we talked Roy into throwing the mattress into the mix, we had a deal.  When we got home the next day there was an email from Roy saying he needed a picture of the two of us for the FBI most wanted list for stealing his mattress.  What a riot.  We have since discovered by going through the paperwork he left with us that the mattress did indeed cost between $800 and $900 when it was bought by the original lady owners.  Yep, Roy Boy had removed the mattress and then put it back in as a bargaining chip.  

We have also discovered that Whiskey is an excellent traveling companion.  

Up next is our trip to Arrow Rock State Park.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What we have here is...

Dakota and Austin spent the night with us last Thursday night.  We were planning on doing a little shopping the next day.  Here is how the conversation went:

Me:  We have a lot of shopping to do tomorrow.  Maybe I'll even get you guys each a pad and pencil for school.

Grandpa (trying to maintain his "so tight he squeaks" image):  I'm not spending that much money on these two!  We'll buy only one pad and one pencil and they can share.

Austin:  I get the pad!

Dakota:  They are talking about a paper pad, Austin, not an iPad...

Austin:  Really?

Me:  Yea, you know, like a Big Chief Tablet

Austin:  What's that...

Austin with his much wiser older brother Dakota

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Christmas in July

I'm not sure whether I am experiencing writer's block or whether I'm just too busy to write.

My hobbies have overtaken me.  There are more of them than there is time.
Between our small garden, my roses, embroidery jobs, family, sewing, playing with the mandolin (sure wish I could master that sucker), and crafting (I'm in love with Copic Markers, by the way), blogging seems to have taken a back burner.

We did find time for our Christmas in July, though.  This year we headed back to Bass River Resort in Steelville for a float on the Huzzah River.

We rented a lodge that sleeps 20 so that we could all be together.  A couple of weeks before the get together Tessa, Alicia, Julie and I got on a Facebook chat to decide who was bring what, and plan out our meals.  I tend to go overboard on things.  The theme of the chat was "keep it simple, mom".  So we did.  The first night was BBQ Pork Steaks, baked beans, yummy macaroni and cheese, and brownies.  If that is keeping it simple, then keeping it simple definitely works for me.

Nice large open area where everyone can mill around and visit.

Ghost story telling requires a bit of pacing, right Anna?
Monday morning was a gorgeous day.  The temperatures were supposed to get into the lower 90's and there was only a 20% chance of rain.  Does it get any better than this?

Ready to go!
Front row: Allen, Dakota, Reagan, Austin, James, Anna
Back row:  Cody, Travis, Emily, Cara
Ready to go floating! (A shocking experience)

Austin and James - Where you find one, you will find the other

In my wildest dreams, I could not have predicted how this day would have played out.
We rented 2 six-person and 1 eight-person raft for a six mile float.  The families all kind of started out as units, knowing that the groupings would take place naturally as the day went on.  I decided early on that every time they stopped the rafts, someone else would be stuck with me until the next stop.  I figured it would be interesting to see how quickly they would want to stop when I was with them.

After the first few miles, we experienced a beautiful, gentle rain.  The light coming through the clouds ahead of us let us know this was just a little pop up shower.  The sun came back out in time for lunch and a romp in the water. Then dark clouds besieged us again.  This time the rain was much harder and colder.  The wind picked up, making it even worse.  At one point, as Anna, Emily, Tessa and I were huddled under towels to break the wind, Jim said, "It could be worse.  At least it isn't thundering and lightening."  Wrong thing to say!  Almost immediately we heard thunder in the distance followed by a flash of lightening.  Time to get off of the water.

Ours was the first raft, with Greg and Doug' rafts and crew a short distance behind  We could see them well enough to know that they were pulling their raft out.  That is when it hit.  Most had made it to shore, but Travis, Bill, and I still had our feet in the water.  Tessa said it looked like we were doing synchronized dancing as we jumped high when the lightening hit the water.  It was the strangest feeling I've ever had.  Fortunately only a foot or two were in the water and we were ok.  But we absolutely could not see or hear what was happening on the gravel bar across the way with the rest of the family.  That was the most unforgiving rain storm imaginable as we stood huddled under sopping wet towels for warmth.  Then just as quickly as the water works began, the sun shined down on us again.  We waited as everyone headed our way so we could regroup.  We knew immediately that something was wrong.  Cody's leg was in the water as the lightening hit, so he got about the same pop as the rest of us.  But Greg was another story.  He was in the water up to his waist trying to hasten the raft to the side.  Little Reagan noticed something was wrong first and screamed for him.  Alicia said when she looked over at him his eyes were glazed over and he was hanging onto the raft.  Once they got him on the gravel, he apparently he came around pretty quickly.  He says his body felt like he had lost all control of it.  He could only compare it to what it must feel to get tazered.  It took him awhile to get his equilibrium back and for the headache to go away as we headed on down the river.  Poor Cara was beside herself to the point of hysteria when we were finally all together.  She saw what happened to Greg and had no idea if the rest of us were alright.  At that point all I wanted to do was get out of that water and onto dry ground, even if the storms had passed.  I still shudder when I think of how bad it could have been.  The rest chalked it up to God had been watching over us, now let's enjoy the rest of the float.

Once we got back to the cabin, we ordered in Pizza (it was more like card board with unidentifiable topping on it).  Doug, Travis, and Cody headed home so they could make a 9:00 ball game.  Most of us called it an early night.  The day had taken its toll on us.  I think Jim and Greg, still nursing a head ache, sat up and rehashed the day over a glass of whiskey.  Tessa, Bill and their family were to head home at 5:00 the next morning to make it to a funeral of a hometown teen who had been killed in a car accident.

If you ignore me, I'll ignore you

All in all it really was a wonderful vacation.  We knew we would be making memories - that is why we do this.  However, the excitement of this family get away will be a bit more memorable than any other.  And yes, Greg is ok.  He refused to go the ER or Dr., hard head that he is.  All's well that ends well!

Fair warning, all electronics will be banned next time.

So, what's been going on in your lives?  I plan on doing a little blog hopping to find out for myself.  Hope all are well and enjoying a little sunshine.

I choose to make the REST of my life the BEST of my life.  Louise Hay

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Water Bagels

I have had many requests for this recipe through Facebook and promised to put it on Pinterest.  However, I am challenged as to how to get this on Pinterest, other than to point to my blog.  So here you have it, my friends, a recipe for the yummiest bagels you will ever encounter.  Don't let the multiple steps deter you from trying this recipe.  They are relatively easy and so good!



4 to 5 cups un-sifted flour
1 tbsp. salt

1 - 1/2 cups very warm tap water

1 egg white, beaten
3 tbsps. sugar

1 pkg. yeast
1 tbsp. cold water

STEP 1:  Mix thoroughly: 1 and 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt and un-dissolved yeast.  Gradually add tap water to dry ingredients and beat two minutes at medium with electric mixer.  Add 1/2 cup flour.  Beat at high speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough.  Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 to 10 minutes).  Place in ungreased bowl.  Cover, let rise in warm place for 20 minutes (dough will not double in bulk).

Note:  I have successfully used the dough setting on my bread maker to prepare the dough to this point.

STEP 2:  Punch dough down and divide into 12 equal portions.  Pat into a bagel shaped circle and punch a hole in the middle with your finger.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Cover and let rise in warm place for 20 minutes (dough will not double in bulk).

STEP 3:  Boil about 2 inch depth of water in large shallow pan.  Lower heat and add a few bagels at a time.  Simmer 7 minutes, covering with lid during part of this time).  Remove from water and place on a towel to cool for 5 minutes.  Place back on ungreased baking sheet.

STEP 4:  Bake bagels at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  While they are baking, whisk egg white and water together.  Remove bagels from the oven and brush egg white/water mixture over them so they will become a golden brown.  Return to oven and bake 20 minutes longer, or until golden brown.  Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire racks.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Wild Blue

Yesterday was a hazy, overcast, but yet mostly blue skies day.  It was our 41st Anniversary.  Happy Anniversary Jim.  You are the best ever and I love you.

We spent the day doing what we like to do best - enjoying the grand kids.  At the end of the day we were too pooped to even uncork a bottle of wine!

Life has been hectic for all of our families.  Jim and I plop down in our easy chairs at night wondering what happened to the day.  Our kids and their families are consumed by summer activities of ball, ball, and more ball!  So when we were finally able to carve out an evening and a day to celebrate birthdays from April and May for James and Austin, we took it.

Time for another plane ride!  Ever since we took Dakota last year, it has been our mission to get any of the grands, who  have not yet experienced the blue skies from above, into the air.

Follow the leader

Anna Rose, the designated photographer, and birthday boys, Austin and James

Did I mention that it was mostly a hazy day?

Anna said the boys got the most excited when the pilot buzzed not one, but two Wal Marts.  Really kids?

 They flew over Austin's house, which is close to his school.  He thought it was so cool that he saw his school, but when I asked him if he saw his house, he said, "I forgot to look".  

Austin, all confidence, in the co-pilot seat.  

James' turn in the co-pilot seat.  He said he was OK with pulling the plane up but was a little scared of  tilting it back down.  It might crash, you know.

James looked at me like I was crazy when I asked why he had on his Superman shirt... 

After working up an appetite, we headed over to a park area next to the Katy Trail for a picnic lunch and a little play time.
After about the 50th time, I lost track of how many times I said, "Tie your shoe James"

Anna is still flying. and so are we, after an awesome day with three of our favorite little people.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Barn Charm Tuesday

I am once again joining in with Tricia at Bluff Area Daily  and all of the other barn lovers for Barn Charm Tuesday.

Great things happen when two friends come together.  They get to catch up on each other's lives, give help where help is needed, spend a little time visiting with family, share a meal or two, and do a little sight seeing of the country side.  An email from my Pennsylvania blog friend, Alice Kay (sorry, no link to this private blog), described just such a wonderful weekend when she and my other Pennsylvania blog friend, Iggy, got together.

The good thing is that I know for a  fact that I was in their thoughts as they enjoyed visiting with each other, because they took barn pictures!

 I usually try to crop out a lot of the surrounding area and focus on the barn.  But in this case, I just couldn't do that.  I love the long shadows cast by the trees and the hills in the background.  Isn't this a beautiful setting for a beautiful barn?

Cropping in tightly blurred the quilt blocks, but I had to post it anyway.  Look how gorgeous it is?  This barn makes me want to put my paper crafts away for awhile (almost) and get back to material crafting.  Why oh why are there so few hours in a day, making me choose one passion over another?

Thank you Alice Kay for sending me this barn picture and sharing what a wonderful time you and Iggy and Terri (her hubby) had.  I only wish I could have joined you!

How about it folks, don't we want to see more Pennsylvania Barns from Iggy and Alice Kay? 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, we remember our women and men serving this Country and those who  gave all to keep us safe and free.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Some Randomness

We went boot shopping Saturday.  Can you tell?
Grandpa threatened to wear his boots and camo shorts to Travis' next wrestling match.  You know, for the cool factor.
Personally I think those knobby knees are rather sexy, don't you?


I see you

You can't see me.  I blend in with the driveway.  So there.

Nanna nanna boo boo, I still see you!

Remember my poor cherry tree, bent to the ground under the heavy snow?

Here it is a few weeks ago.  It won't be long now and the good Lord, the worms, and the birds willing, we will be once again picking juicy red cherries.  Amazing.

A conversation with Jim recently:
Me:  I need to get the pruners and trim some of the dead limbs off the cherry tree.
Jim:  Those dead limbs aren't going to get any deader.  We have a lot of other, more important, things to do.
Me:  Yea, you're right.  I need to get the flowers and herbs we bought yesterday planted.  By the way, where are they?
Jim:  I don't know.
Me:  What do you mean you don't know?  You got them out of your truck!
Jim:  The pruners?
Sometimes we really do have difficulty communicating...

Did you know that Google keeps track of your birthday and posts a special birthday image for you on your special day? It feels a little FBI-ish to me...
Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday dear me..... Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Housing Problems

I love my birds.  I feed them all winter long,  and all summer long, and those two seasons in between.  We also have one of those sweet bird baths so they can dip their little beaks in cool refreshing water or take a bath if their little hearts desire.  Like I said, I really like my birdies.

Pretty Blue Bird
This Spring we put up a few more bird houses.  Two for Purple Martins (I call them Schwarzes because I kept forgetting their names.  Jim told me to do the name association thingy. We know a guy from church named Martin.  His last name is Schwarse.  So I think of our friend and then I can remember the name of the bird.  But I digress, and besides, I'm pretty sure I've told this story before.  We also put up a blue bird house and have two more in the wings (bird - wings - get it?) waiting to be mounted to posts.

Blue Bird House

So far we haven't seen any Purple Martins, which I'm assuming means we won't get any this year.  Especially since a family of Blue Birds moved in before the Schwarzes got to town.

Blue Bird in a Purple Martin House
Oh for Pete's sake, don't get all pissy with me.  We're not going to move you out until after your babies hatch.  But I'm telling you right now, you will be packing your things and moving eventually.
Usually I'm pretty easy going but I have a pet peeve that I want to share. 
We have a local newscaster who often ends his sentences with at.  Last night he said "So go online to Facebook and let us know where you are at."  How I cringed.  That irritates me about as much as people who step on the car brakes to make a turn, and then turn their signal on.  A little late there buddy, don't you think?  Do you have a pet peeve?  I'd love to hear them.

Friday, May 10, 2013

One thing...


I have my computer back!
Need I say more?
Will be visiting your neighborhood soon.  Yea baby!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Good Mail

Several weeks ago I received a box in the mail.  It wasn't just any box, but rather a sweet present from an even sweeter friend.  I met Queenie Jeannie a few years back through this wonderful world of blogs.  Through her blog she shares her day to day life, her love of her family, her country, and card making.  It is because of her creative passion that I found a renewed interest in scrap booking and a new interest in crafting in general. 

Don't kid yourselves folks  This stuff is a sickness.  It gets under your skin and won't let go.  I'm loving playing with all of my new "toys".  I'm loving my new scrapbook nook, and I'm loving my box of goodies from Jeannie.

Many Magnolia stamps, rhinestones, and a wonderful magazine with Magnolia stamps crafting ideas. 
The Magnolia stamps are crisp, clear images begging to be colored... with Copic markers.  Copics are an alcohol based marker that makes blending easy.  They are a dream to use.  Unfortunately, they are a bit pricey.  I've been buying them one at a time for weeks now.  Every time I'd get within shouting distance of Hobby Lobby, I'd march in with my list of must have markers and 40% off coupon.  Because they are so loved and pricey, they are kept under lock and key.   The keeper of the key knows me well.  She sees me coming, waves, and heads towards the Copics.  She almost got a big hug yesterday, though, as she confided they were getting in a new supply of Copics and all of the existing ones were going on sale for 40% off!  No more sneaking in with my coupon week after week.  Oh my word.  What am I going to do with all of my spare time?

Of course my box of goodies came with a beautiful hand crafted card.  I didn't realize until I posted this picture that the card got hidden under all of my other goodies.  But never fear, I know how to steal photos and took the liberty of stealing a picture of the card from Jeannie's blog! 

So pretty!  And guess what?  It is even prettier in real life.  But then, you'll just have to take my word on that, now won't you?

Thanks for stopping by.  Will be by to visit everyone soon.

PS:  Update on my computer.  It is seriously ill.  The Dr. says he can make it better, though.  It just needs a new heart.  We are hoping it will be released from the hospital next Tuesday.

PPS:  I have an idea of something to send Jeannie if I can find it.  But this is our secret.  Don't tell Jeannie. ;)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A to Z Challenge Finale

I know... I dropped out of the A to Z Challenge at unable.  Then my last post happened.  One of the things I listed about myself was that I tended to not finish projects.  I had done it again!  The A to Z Challenge had become another of my unfinished projects.  Even though there are some holes in my project, I am going to finish what I started with a memory about Zero Candy Bars

One of my favorite things to do as a little girl was to go swimming at Memorial Park.  On the hottest summer afternoons, we'd don our swimsuits, hop in the car, and head for the pool, where we would meet up with friends.  Many of today's pools are parks, very unlike the simple ones of a shallow and deep end with a rope designation where one began and the other ended.  I was a shallow end type of gal, unless I was trying to impress a boy.  Then I'd hang onto the side kicking my legs in the deep end - just hanging out.  Crazily, since I didn't know how to swim, I once tried to jump off the high dive.  Embarrassingly, I chickened out and had to crawl back off the board to the safety of the concrete ground.  What does this have to do with Zero Candy Bars?

Obviously, I wasn't a swimmer.  You'd more likely find me sunning on the beach towel or sitting on the concession stand benches eating a Zero candy bar.  They weren't just any Zero candy bars.  They were frozen.  Oh the goodness, sitting in the shade, biting into a thawing chocolate outside, creamy in the middle, candy bar.  So delicious.  Try it sometime.

Congratulations to everyone who successfully participated in the A to Z Challenge.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's posts.  It was a good experience!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I met Megan at Here I Go With All My Thoughts through the A to Z Challenge.  She was always very faithful about checking back in with me each and every day to see what memory I'd be posting about.  I'd try to do the same with her, although I don't believe I was quite as faithful.  She too had chosen the theme of remembering, so we had something in common.

Even though Megan had just begun following my blog less than a month ago, she gave me a Very Inspiring Blogger award.  I'll have to say I usually don't accept awards any more.  For awhile there were so many out there, and they were flying around from blog to blog like a crazy cuckoo.  But, it has been some time since I've been given an award, so I'm going to thank Megan and accept this one.

As with most awards, it came with strings attached:
1. Display award logo on blog.  Done.
2. Link back to the person who gave you the award.  Done
3. State 7 things about yourself.
  1. I am a breast cancer survivor.  Nine years and counting!
  2. I enrolled in college when I turned 40 and graduated with a BS degree in management five years late (while working full time).  During this time I discovered I love history, could ace any English/Writing class, and suck at math.  I also learned how to BS with the best of them.
  3. The day after my last college final I had surgery on both of my feet.  A bunion was removed from the big toe of one and an arthritic joint replace in the big toe of my other foot.  One week later I hobbled across the stage with crutches, wearing my fancy blue surgery shoes, and accepted my diploma.  No way was I going to miss that moment.
  4. I had my first and only panic attack a few months ago.  I thought I was going to die.  Really.  I don't want any more of those.
  5. I seem to have trouble finishing anything I start.  The number of projects laying around this house is testimony to that fact.
  6. I am responsible for our church bulletin.  Even though I proof read it before sending it to the copier, I (or Jim) always find glaring errors when we are in the process of folding them.  You know, when it is too late.
  7. I love Golden Retrievers.  Will you please explain to me why I have a Chihuahua?
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link back to them.
 Sometimes I don't follow rules should be number 8 about me.  I read many blogs and each and every one deserve this award.  I wouldn't be reading their blog if they didn't.  I'd love it if some or all of you would grab this award and post it on your blog.  But if you don't, I understand.
The A to Z Challenge is almost over.  I regret that I wasn't able to finish it.  I've finally given up on trying to fix my PC by myself.  I got brave and followed the repair link that Iggy provided to me and followed the directions.  It started cooking.  1%, 5%, 15%, 18%, 23%, 30%... 31% complete.  Then it just sat there.  And sat there.  It finally gave me a message that it couldn't complete the requested task.  Crazy, stoopid, computer.
Thanks for the award Megan!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A to Z Challenge - Unable

I am declaring defeat and admit that I am going to be UNABLE to complete the A to Z Challenge.

My computer is still giving me fits.  With the help of my good friend Iggy, I am making progresss.  Thanks to his super duper knowledge, I can now get Windows Updates - something I have not been able to do for quite a long time.  He had me run some diagnostics and the result was my computer has "integrity" issues.  Don't we all?  That doesn't cause us to shut down, does it?  Anyway, still working on it.  Iggy provided me with one link to try, but said I'd  have to be brave (or something to that extent).  I'm a bit intimidated, but what do I have to lose?  Going to try that next.  Thanks Iggy for helping me like this.  You are the best!  Iggy is also really good at something besides IT issues, and that is blogging.  If you have never been to his blog, do yourself a favor and click on the link.  You will be glad you did.

Speaking of the best, the folks who are participating in the A to Z Challenge are the best!  I've discovered some really great blogs as a result of participating in this challenge.  I plan on continuing to visit their blogs and hope they will do the same with mine. 

Thank you everyone who visited me each day as I strolled down memory lane, A to Z style. 

Also, thank you for all of the kind words about Uncle Cy.  His funeral was a very moving experience.  It was obvious he touched many lives, including the priest who gave his eulogy.  He had many stories, some funny and some heartwarming, about Uncle Cy. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

A to Z Challenge - S

There were so many remembering possibilities for the letter S.  I could tell you several snake stories, or remember the days of S & H Green Stamps, Sock Hops, Sponge Rollers, the Spirograph, or School.  But saltine crackers won out as the remember of the day.


To this day, the sight, smell or taste of a saltine cracker reminds me of my Grandma Hood.  Grandpa died the year I was born, so my memories of him are only in the stories I've been told.  Apparently the grandkids who were old enough to have known him, called him Grandpa Butterball.  I can't imagine where they would come up with such a nickname.  Right?

Back to saltine crackers.  After Grandpa passed away, Grandma was left to create and maintain traditions for her continually growing family.
The gathering of 12 children (one died as a child)...
Quickly turned into this gathering of something more than 12. 
So what kind of traditions can one possibly maintain with a family of this size.  It isn't like she could invite everyone over for Thanksgiving dinner, or Christmas, for that matter.  Somehow Grandma found a way to make each and every one of her children and grandchildren feel special.  I can't recall a single material gift from Grandma.  Her gift was one of herself. 
One of Grandma Hood's traditions was Sunday dinner for any and all of the families who made the trip to Tipton to visit her for the day.  She was like the Bible story of the Loaves and the Fishes.  No matter how many people showed up, there was always enough fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and fresh homemade bread for everyone.  Grandma was always there.  It wasn't like these days where you have to schedule time to be with your family.  You knew if you made a trip to Tipton, grandma would be there with her fried chicken and, if it was summer, fresh produce from her garden.
Gandma's other tradition?  Saltine crackers.
Grandma always kept a jar of saltine crackers sitting on the table in the front room. We knew we could always help ourselves to the crackers.  And that, my friends, is why the very sight of a saltine cracker creates wonderful memories of my Grandma Hood.
I will be away from the blogs for a few days. 
My Uncle Cy  passed away on Friday.  As my Godfather, he always made me feel special.  He holds a special place in my heart.  Here are a few other posts about Uncle Cy:  Uncle Cy, Visit with Uncle Cy.
Rest in Peace Uncle Cy.  I'm going to miss you.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A to Z Challenge - Q

Hi everyone.  Here were are remembering the letter Q.

This is going to be short and sweet. My laptop is sick, so I am posting from my IPad.  I love my IPad,  but I'm not a big fan of typing long messages on it.

Q is the perfect letter for a short post, because the letter Q makes me remember my love for Quiet.

In a three bedroom house of two adults and four kids, quiet was a rare commodity, but it was possible.

My favorite way to find quiet was to curl up with a book.  In my own little cocoon, lost in words, it didn't much matter what else was going on around me.  My mind was in a quiet space.

There was a space under the basement steps, where I would hide and write.  Shhhh. It is my secret.

Church was a special, quiet time for me.  I could sit and think and dream.  Sometimes I even prayed!

We had a forbidden creek behind our house (my mother had a great fear of water).  When I needed to really think or have a good cry, I'd slip away to the solitude of the creek and find my quiet.

Do you crave quiet?  I still do and, I'm sure, always will.

I apologize if I don't get to your blogs for a bit.  I will probably be reading, but not commenting like I would like to.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A to Z Challenge -

We are over halfway through the A to Z Challenge.  I've done better at keeping up than I expected, missing only two letters so far.  How has everyone else been doing?

Today I am remembering the letter P and pierced ears.

If you've been following my journey of remembering, as we trip through the alphabet, you've picked up on the fact that my upbringing leaned towards conservative and strict.  Unfortunately, my youthful mind didn't agree with all of the restrictions and rules.  This included the belief my parents had that "If God wanted you to have pierced ears, he would have put holes in them".

I was known to wail "But all of my friends have pierced ears!"  It fell on deaf ears.  When I was 16, mom considered the possibility of allowing a Dr. pierce my ears.  I wasn't too keen on that idea.  To me it seemed pretty extreme to go to a Dr. to have a needle poked through my ear lobes.  I had other plans.

There were four of us who hung out together quite a bit, Mary Beth, Elaine, Nancy, and me.  If we weren't out running around, we were usually at Elaine's house.  Of the four of us, I was the only one who had not yet taken the plunge and gotten my ears pierced.  I can't tell you how many times we had talked about just doing it ourselves.  All we would need is a needle, a match to sterilize it, ice to numb my ear, and a potato to place behind the ear lobe.  On this particular night, we had stayed in and just hung out.  At some point Elaine's older sister, who happened to be a nurse, came home from a date.  She heard us talking about piercing my ears and offered to do it.  She did it exactly like we had talked about.  I can't recall it hurting, although I'm sure it did.  I was too worried about what my parents were going to say and do, to be bothered with a little pain.  Will it surprise anyone to learn that they were less than pleased with me?  To make matters worse, one of the ears got infected.  Mom threatened to take me to a Dr., but I pleaded to give it time to heal.  Fortunately, with the help of rubbing alcohol, the infection went away.  At some point all was forgiven.  Years later I even talked my mom into getting her ears pierced.  She had a Dr. do it, in case you are wondering.

The hole in my left ear angles down, making it difficult to put earrings in, reminding me of my friends and that night over 45 years ago.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A to Z Challenge - N

Good morning!  The letter N is on the table today.  What do I remember that starts with the letter N?

I remember NO air conditioning.  I'm certain many of my older readers remember those days.

My family lived in a modest brick rancher built in the 1950's.  Air conditioning was a luxury few could afford.    Window fans, open windows, screen doors, and lots of ice tea was a way of life.  During the day we were so busy either working or playing, I can't say I really felt the impact of the heat.  When the sun was too hot to be out in it, we would lay on the cool carport concrete and play games or read books.  The unfinished basement was also a safe haven.  We had a little record player and lots of children's records.  We'd play songs like The Bear Went Over the Mountain, lots of Disney tunes, and silly songs.  One of the silliest, and therefore, favorite, was Jenny Jenkins.

"Jenny Jenkins"
Will you wear white
Oh my dear, oh my dear
Will you wear white, Jenny Jenkins?
No I won't wear white
For the color's too bright

I'll buy me a foldy-roldy, tildy-toldy
Seek-a-double, use-a-cozza roll to find me
Roll, Jenny Jenkins, roll
Will you wear blue
Oh my dear, oh my dear
Will you wear blue, Jenny Jenkins?
No, I won't wear blue
cause blue wont do.

Will you wear pink
Oh my dear, oh my dear
Will you wear pink, Jenny Jenkins?
No, I won't wear pink
I rather drink ink

Will you wear green
Oh my dear, oh my dear
Will you wear green, Jenny Jenkins?
No, I won't wear green
It's a colour of a bean

Will you wear orange
Oh my dear, oh my dear
Will you wear orange, Jenny Jenkins?
No, I won't wear orange
cause nothing ryhmes with orange

Will you wear grey
Oh my dear, oh my dear
Will you wear grey, Jenny Jenkins?
No, I won't wear grey
It's a black and rainy day


A not so fond memory of those days of NO air conditioning was the night time.  My parents were old school in many ways.  They had this thing about drafts and sickness.  This equated to not being able to sleep with our heads anywhere near an open window.  Each night we would say our prayers, kiss mom and dad goodnight, and head for bed.  My sister and I shared a bed room.  I think she might have been the good child, because every night after mom and dad came in to check on us, I would flip myself down to the end of the bed so my head was near the open window.  I don't think Kathleen did that, but as I go down memory lane this month, I'm finding a lot of what I thought were clear memories, are rather faded.  If she didn't move to the bottom of the bed, like I did, she was definitely the smart one.  Because I do remember that I almost always got caught.

My own children can tell tales of the many years that we had only a window air conditioner to cool an entire floor of our home.  It didn't even come close to reaching to the bed rooms, so many nights were spent sleeping on the living room floor.  Since Jim was a school teacher, he was home with them during the summer.  They tell tales about how he wouldn't let them turn the air on during the day, until about an hour before I was due home.   Ahhhh the good old days.

So, how many remember not having air conditioning?  Maybe some don't have it now?  

Monday, April 15, 2013

A to Z Challenge - M

Hello there.  Did anyone notice that I missed the letter L in the A to Z Challenge?  I didn't think so.  In case you are wondering, I was going to blog about Lips.  The wax kind that we used to buy at the little service station on our way home from school.  Instead of blogging, though, I was spending my time with another L word.  My Loves.  Our family got together this weekend to celebrate a late Easter, and all thoughts of the A to Z Challenge went bye bye.  I'll try to do  better, I promise.

Here we are at the letter M.  Today I am remembering McClung Park.

Throughout grade school, McClung Park was the highlight of my school year.  Our school picnic was at McClung park. It was the one day each year when we could ditch our Parochial School uniforms and wear normal clothes.  Our poor teachers were given the task of trying to teach for a few hours in the morning, until we were finally let out grade by grade to walk to the park located a short distance away (1/2 mile or so).

I remember extreme weather - either very hot or very cold and wet.  I can still remember the excitement of holding on to my best friend's hand as we walked.  Getting to the park was half the excitement.  Once we got to the park, we were each given three tickets to be redeemed for treats.  I only remember them offering Popsicles  because that is what I always gobbled up.  We would go around and round on the merry-go-round until we were staggering like a drunk on a Saturday night.  Then on to the swings, jungle gym, and rolling down hills.  Finally we would each get picked up by our parents (or walk home), only to return later that evening, dressed in our prettiest dresses, to the pavilion for the school dance.

There was nothing sophisticated about the set up.  A record player would play music and everyone would dance with everyone else.  It was one big free-for-all.   I only remember two of the tunes playing those many years ago.  We'd put our left foot in, left foot out, and do the Hokey Pokey and turn ourselves about, over and over again.  There was only one dance we'd do more often than the Hokey Pokey.  That was the Bunny Hop.  Surely the Bunny Hop was the original line dance. We would line up, place our hands on the shoulder or waist of the person in front, and do what the lyrics said, trying not to lose grip as we hopped, hopped, hopped, snaking around the room.
Put your right foot forward
Put your left foot out.
Do the Bunny Hop.
Bunny, Hop, hop, hop!
Dance this new creation
It's the new sensation
Do the Bunny Hop
Bunny, Hop, hop, hop!
Let's all join in the fun
Father, mother, son
Do the Bunny Hop
Bunny, Hop, hop, hop!
Has anyone else done The Bunny Hop?  If not, get out there and find your inner child.  Live a little!

Friday, April 12, 2013

A to Z Challenge K

Today I am going to be remembering Knights of Columbus sponsored dances.  The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic men's organization dedicated to doing good deeds.  They good deeded themselves to death for us kids when we were in high school.

Our local K of C Council would sponsor dances after the Catholic High School home football games.  This was a big deal.   Almost everyone went to the football games, because win or lose, we knew there would be a dance afterwards.  As a member of the pep squad, I'd have to wear my uniform to the game.  But afterwards, friends would get together at one house or another to change into their coolest clothes and head downtown for the dance.

The hall was located in the upstairs of a two story building only a block from down town.  Every time I stood in line, slowly climbing the stairs with the rest of my friends to the dance hall, I tried desperately  not to be the giggly teenage girl I was.  Acting out with the rest of the 15 year olds, I always failed.  The men at the door would take our money (was it 50 cents?), stamp our hands, and let us inside, where we'd enter what I thought of as another world.  There were three or so local home grown bands that played at these dances.  Right now the only one I can think of is the Oviatt Brothers.  This amazes me, considering the hours I spent making banners advertising which band was going to play on any given weekend.  They played music like "Whiter Shade of Pale", "Twist and Shout", "Light My Fire", and "I Think We're Alone Now".  Thinking back, I'm wondering if any of the adults ever stopped to listen to the lyrics of any of these songs.  The strobe lights and black lights added to the already exciting atmosphere.  As the hall filled up, the windows that surrounded the rooms were opened to let the fresh Fall breezes in.  Now that I'm thinking about it, I don't think there were any screens on those windows.  Is that possible?  Overcome by shyness, I'd often sit on the sidelines most of the night, alternating between a smile pasted on my face, chattering with my girl friends, watching out of the corner of my eyes to see if anyone was heading our way, or plastering my face with a practiced look of "I don't care" boredom.  That is until 1969 - my Senior year.  Jim and I had met that summer and quickly became inseparable.  We attended every one of those K of C dances together.  My shyness evaporated like water on a hot summer day while we danced each and every dance.  Arms high in the air, we'd clap, stomp, twirl, and sway to the music of each and every song.

Today we are still holding each other tight, swaying through the music of life.  Thank you Knights of Columbus.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A to Z Challenge - J

Today for the A to Z  Challenge, I am going to be remembering about Just Looking.

Have I mentioned that things moved a tad bit slower in the 50's?  There were no strip malls, no supercenters, no super malls, and certainly no outlet malls.  There was no internet shopping.  Oh wait, internet?  What is that? What we did have were family run down town apparel stores, 5 & Dimes, family grocery stores, and hardware stores (family owned, of course).

If my memory serves me correctly, the down town stores were open from 9 to 5 every day, Monday through Saturday.  On Wednesdays and Fridays they stayed open until 9:00 pm.  There was no such nonsense as shopping on Sunday.  That was a day of church and rest.  All of this added up to a whole lot of just looking.

We would spend Saturday mornings cleaning house.  After that we would often head to the grocery store, and, if needed, downtown.  It was always fun to tag along and people watch.  We shopped at Lee's, a small grocery store on the corner of Dunklin and High Street.  This was before it became hoity toity, moving to a larger building on McCarty street.  I liked nothing better than hanging from the bars, purpose unknown, outside the store, and watch people  Often I'd know them.  They'd call my sister and me names like Forcky (mom's maiden name was Forck), or would mix our names up on purpose because we looked so much alike.

It was especially fun when we would head down town.  Sometimes mom would shop while I stayed in the car with dad.  I'd make up stories about everyone.  In my mind the teenagers were hopelessly in love.  Women were wearing shoes too tight for their feet, causing them to walk funny.  Men were all professionals, taking time out from their busy weeks to spend time with their families.  The kids were all getting everything they asked for.  I'm pretty sure all of this couldn't have been further from the truth, other than the shoes too small for the women's feet.  That was probably on the mark.  Then we would head to Southside Fabrics.  Oh my, I was in heaven. My love for material of all kinds began at a very young age.  We'd look, and look, and look.  It might take three or four trips before we would decide on just the right piece of material.

Church was also a time for just looking.  I know I was supposed to be praying, but there was a whole lot of looking going on.  The very first row was usually occupied by the family of a local Dr.  They had a daughter who was a few years younger than me.  I did a whole lot of just looking at her and her perfect hair, shoes and clothing.  Her mom had a fur coat that grossed me out.  Pews were not reserved, but they may as well have been, because nobody else had the nerve to occupy their spot. Ladies all wore hats to church, which was another source of wonderment and entertainment.  As I looked at them there were a whole lot of "what are they thinking?" thoughts going through my head.

I'll have to say that my favorite time for just looking was when the stores were closed and we'd go window shopping.  I loved looking into stores like Saffee's, Young Fashions, Jack and Jill Shop, Kress', Woolworth's, Burkel's Shoes, and American Shoes.  When I was just looking, the sky was the limit and I could afford it all.

Do you ever go Just Looking?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A to Z Challenge - Letter I

I had two remembering words for the letter I:  Ink pens and Ice Cream Man

It was difficult to choose between the two because of my early-on fascination with penmanship and pens of any sort and such an endearing childhood memory as the ice cream man, but the ice cream man won out.

I seem to remember the music blaring was Pop Goes the Weasel. Surely his playlist was more extensive than that?   He drove this four wheel cycle affair with a chest freezer on the back.  You could hear him coming a long ways off, giving us time to plead for that magical thin dime that would buy an ice cream bar.  My ice cream of choice was a Fudge Bar.  I can still taste the cold chocolate on my tongue in the heat of the sweltering days of summer.  All of the neighborhood kids would come running to the music of the ice cream man.  We secretly felt sorry for those that didn't, knowing they were either in trouble, or they didn't have an extra dime or two to spare that week.

I've lived in the country for over 30 years.  This prompts me to ask:  Does the ice cream man live on?  If not, what a shame. Such good memories.