“I said what I meant, I meant what I said..”

Last year’s Presidential election saw a surge in political comments, cartoons, and rants in social media. Any hopes we “common folks” harbored that this would all go away after inauguration have been dashed. The President is a magnet for criticism and over analyzation.

Listening to the news this morning I heard a phrase that I must have read several hundred times when our daughter was young. She loved elephants after our trip to California in 1986. First there was the Dumbo ride with her Aunt B. Then a departing gift, a stuffed Dumbo became the favorite “security/comfort” night time must have.

It was probably a few years later that she brought home the required school library check out. It was

At the time she was not an independent reader and had merely chosen the book because there was an elephant on the cover. That night I dutifully read through the book and rediscovered the joys of Dr. Seuss. Then I read it again the next night, and the next and so on. Library day came one week later and she wanted to renew her selection. The teacher said that wasn’t the way this library worked and put the book in the return bin. She selected another book but left it at school in her locker. When I asked what we were reading at bedtime the darling little girl began to retell Horton in amazingly accurate recall. There was special emphasis on the phrase, “I said what I meant, and I meant what I said. An elephant is faithful one hundred percent!”

In the morning I told her to bring the library book home from school. After all I was a teacher! Well you guessed it no library book again that afternoon. I loaded her up in the car and said before we could go to the barn, (another whole book), we were going to the library to check out a book. She asked for Horton at the front desk and the librarian took her right to the shelf. checked the book out and off we went. We usually listened to the country station on the radio as we traveled to the barn but not today. There sat our little girl in the back of the car reading her book.

Eventually, I had to buy a personal copy. That was the long road to creating an independent book loving reader.

That is how the spokesperson’s comment, “He said what he meant, and meant what he said”, triggered a 25 year old memory for this Mom.

Dr. Seuss is alive and well in this technology crazed world.

GS Cookies

A quick flashback – I loved selling GS cookies in the 50’s and 60’s. Now fast forward to 1988 our daughter is now in scouts and things have changed.

So there I was carting 12 cases of assorted cookies into the house with help from the kids. I had no idea how I would help her sell this many cookies. Yes, the other leader had suggested sending her into the school to sell to my cohorts or we could sign up for times to set up in front of the commissary and PX. However, she forgot to mention that the prime times were already taken. What to do now that we had piled them up inside the door.

Oh, the telephone is ringing! Phones were not used in Germany because they were expensive, this is a story for another time. My immediate reaction was that the call was important but why? My husband had been “in the field” for about ten days and not expected back for two weeks. “In the field” is another story for another time.

I answered. The caller was a neighbor (they had 3 boys) wanting to know if he could pick up a few essentials for Hubby. Yes, would he mind picking up a few boxes of GS cookies too? “Sure, I’ll be by in about 30 minutes.”

Never in my wildest dreams was I expecting my salvation to come to the door that night. Did I mention that I had spent the day with 22 first graders, was sole parenting two, had meal prep, homework and classroom plans to complete before bed that night.
When the neighbor/angel came he took what I had packed for Hubby and then saw the cookies. “How many can I have?” Those were the sweetest words I’d heard in a long time! I said all and we jammed them into the jeep. Away he drove and I dashed back inside on wings.

The next day everyone asked about cookies and I just smiled. No sitting/standing outside the PX or Commissary for this lady. I know they wondered but mum was the word and to my amazement the kids didn’t think anything of it.

Two days before all the soldiers were expected back I received another call. Would it be possible to get more cookies? If you can leave them in Hubby’s office and we’ll take care of everything.

I talked with several teachers who also had Girl Scouts and they agreed to meet me with their cookies. Then I called our troop leader to ask if she had any extras. Yes, several moms had returned cookies because they lived on the economy like us and we couldn’t sell to German neighbors.
The next day after school we all met at the office and unloaded at least 20 more cases. It wasn’t until Hubby returned after supervising the detraining of the equipment (tanks, jeeps, trucks, and men) all night that I knew for certain we had sold all of those cookies. I should say he and other soldiers had sold cookies for the Girl Scouts!!!

To be continued…

It’s Girl Scout Cookie Time!

When I think of my almost thirty year association with Girl Scouts, cookie time has to be in the top three. I sold cookies as a six year old Brownie. We trudged through snow and cold weather in our home town. There was a competition for the top sales girl and I actually won once. My best friend won several times until I broke her leg when we were 11 and then we both sort of left that phase behind. However, we continued to be Girl Scouts.

The cost per box was fifty cents and I only recall 3 or 4 varieties. Back then Thin Mints was our best seller. As I said we went door to door selling and went back to our leaders house or weekly meeting location to pick up new supplies. One of my brothers suggested selling at the hospital during visiting hours. What a gold mine!! The hospital was across the street and we were allowed to stand inside the main entrance. That was the best move because as I said we lived on the Canadian border.

Another memory that always pops up this time of year is when our daughter sold cookies in Germany. My husband was in the Army and our daughter was a Daisy. Daisy is a rank below Brownie and I was in a German apartment when her leader announced,

The next surprise occurred about a week later when another Girl Scout leader came to my classroom at lunch time and asked if I could handle deliver of “our” cookies. Sure I said I’ll keep them in my locked drawer until after school. My first clue that I had no clue was when she laughed right in my face. After she recovered she asked where my car was parked. Later that day as I drove home with the kids and TWELVE cases of cookies I think she knew our car was the wagon outside in the teacher lot! Yes, we had twelve cases or 144 boxes of cookies to sell in three weeks.

To be continued…

The Collection Continues…

The newest frogs in our collection.

Sitting atop my Valentine’s Day table topper this beautiful sunny Friday.

The top frog is actually a secret box. Perhaps you can see the delicate little peg near its rear. This peg slides up and then you slide the top forward to lift off a cover. The secret compartment is small but functional. I love the colors in the wood.

The second frog has a baby frog sitting on its back. The carving strokes are more pronounced but once again the stain brings out beautiful colors.

Both were Christmas presents and are very unusual.
Don’t let the sunshine fool you, it is very cold outside due to the wind on the prairie.

Newspapers

I recently learned that two of the local newspapers had closed shop after trying to boost delivery and cut costs for several years. The papers had been around for close to 50 years but just couldn’t compete with the news 24/7 of this new era. Yes, they served small communities with few local small town businesses but I know they are missed.

My relationship with newspapers dates back to my Grandparents. My Father’s family lived off the news. His parents began a news distribution business in rural upstate New York. They met the trains each morning and then delivered papers throughout our largely rural county on the Canadian border. The business grew as they branched out to distribute paperback books, magazines, comic books and other periodicals. The four colleges and many high schools relied on them for all types of print materials.

I came to believe that my Father had the largest newspaper route in the world!

It was wonderful to have comic books and magazines at your finger tips. We all read the newspapers even if it was just the funnies. Remember, this was a very rural area in upstate New York and television was not our go to entertainment. I still read a major newspaper every day even though it often contains old news. I love doing the Sudoku, Jumble, Word Game, Lexigo, and the Daily Commuter Puzzle.

Trying to keep the ole brain sharp!!

Restaurant Week

This year I was determined to visit at least four of the dozens of offerings. I met my goal.

Some of the trends I noted on the menus:
Pricier venues offered seafood and lobster bisque was a favorite.
Brussel sprouts dominated. I managed to avoid them except for two in an amazing pork pasta dish.
Desserts were always fabulous! Licked the creme brûlée dish clean one night.
I have been drinking only white wine this month and found wonderful selections. Beer only once.

The week brought a few more pounds and some tighter fitting clothes. It was worth it!

And now I’m off to exercise!

Family Favorites

I have served this “special cake” at Christmas time for over twenty years. One modification I made for many years was using sugar free pudding mix for G. Often I made two cakes because so many people enjoy this cake. Our Grandson asks to take home the “left overs.” It’s my favorite winter treat.

Harvey Wallbanger Cake
1 pound cake mix 4 eggs
3.5 oz. vanilla instant pudding mix 1/4 cup Galliano liqueur
1/2 cup veg oil (canola) 3/4 cup orange juice

Grease & flour Crock-Pot Bread ‘n Bake pan and cover. Turn Crock-Pot on high to pre heat. In large bowl blend cake mix & pudding mix. Mix last 4 ingredients in separate bowl. Combine mixes & liquid and mix on high for two minutes. Pour batter in cake pan, cover, and place in covered Crock-Pot. Bake on High 2 to 3 hours. Check center for doneness with toothpick after 2 hours, continue to check until toothpick comes out clean.
Remove cake and lightly dust with powdered sugar.

Harvey Wallbanger Cake

We finally have cold weather, no snow but cold.

My best guess puts this Crockpot at over thirty years old. I have searched through the little recipe booklet for a date but can’t find one. This little old crockpot has provided us with many wonderful dishes. I took a photo of the booklet, maybe some knows the date it was printed. IMG_2452

Thankful

Skipped a Thursday but I am determined to blog today.

A gentle snow is drifting down on a very cold landscape. I’m feeling snug inside sewing, simmering spaghetti sauce for dinner and listening to an audio book. It’s a good feeling.

Since winter’s return I’ve been thankful for growing up where winters were long, cold, and snowy. I feel prepared for and almost welcome the solitude that comes with a blanket of snow. Along with the snow comes a thankful feeling that I am able to cope and keep myself entertained.

Thanks Mother Nature.

Thankful Thursday

Thursday’s Thirteen is changing to Thankful Thursday.

Just last week I was finally able to start reading December’s Reader’s Digest. An article entitled “Why Holidays are Healthier than You Think” caught my eye. The fourth point was – writing holiday cards can promote gratitude. The author quoted a study which found people who jotted down what they were thankful for each week felt more optimistic about their lives, exercised more, and even had fewer visits to physicians.

The exercise point really grabbed my attention. Four years ago a good friend and fellow retiree agreed with me that we needed to walk several days each week. The walks started when school reopened. What started out as three days soon turned to five. I enjoy the walks and two other ladies have joined.

The talk walk covers many topics during the week from our weather to Washington. Books, television programs, recipes and stories of spouses, children and now Grands are shared. The neighborhood always offers seasonal sights. As retired teachers we have also taken field trips, two were offered by my library. Occasionally we have visited the local IHOP for a decadent breakfast.

Birthday sundae after jelly donut pancakes

Birthday sundae after jelly donut pancakes

I am thankful for my fellow walkers. We always have great time. For that I am thankful.

Thursday’s Thirteen – Irkers

I have been keeping a list of what I call “Pet Irkers” (PI) and decided to share 13 of them on this rainy Thursday. The PIs are not in any particular order, just thirteen PIs.

1. Ads in magazines. I have been reading Reader’s Digest for a long time and first noticed that perforated ads where making the magazine hard to handle while reading in bed. For over a year I would tear out the ads when the new issue arrived in the mail. Then I began to notice that ads where on the pages just like the many excellent stories I enjoy. Well, now it is ridiculous, I just counted 32 (one was three pages long) in the June issue and I was only at page 72, that’s two fifths of the pages! There is even an ad on the inside front cover.

2. I call this the magazine subscription PI. My lastest and best example of this is purchasing a kid’s nature magazine as a Christmas present last December. Since February we have received no fewer than six letters or emails (I purchased online) to renew the magazine. Reader’s Digest is no better. Whether it’s our personal subscription or a gift subscription the company starts hounding us about eight months before renewal time. I have finally cataloged all subscriptions with pertinent information online, then I check when the notices start coming in. More hassel for me,irk

3. PI number 3 is telemarketers. I thought the no call list would stop all these calls but telemarketing has become very creative and found every loop hole in the regulations. Frequently nonprofits call between five and six (the dinner hour) with the message that you have contributed in the past and would you be willing to help by pestering your neighbors for us. Colleges and universities are always having a fund raising campaign and the law allows them to contact anyone who has ever visited the campus I guess. Another is “Jim” calling on behalf of police, state troopers, or the fire department and asking if would be willing to send a family of four to the circus, no! Telemarketers have even figured out that we can identify them when they mispronounce our last name so now they address us by our first names only. Looks like we will soon be getting rid of the land line. Our answering machine is frequently loaded with offers for credit ratings, security systems and senior citizen medical equipment.

4. TV Medicine commercials made the PI list a long time ago. Television commercials for medicines advise people to consult with their doctor before taking medicines, yet will send you samples through the mail. Tell your doctor if you have high blood pressure, a heart condition etc. is always part of these commercials, shouldn’t your doctor know if you have these conditions? I also get dizzy when the announcer starts spouting out the list of adverse reactions, they put a lot into those thirty seconds.

5. This PI is self promotion. Many local television stations proudly flash “Rated Number 1” or “Most Watched” during commercial breaks in popular programs. I now refer to this as bragging breaks. The major networks are perhaps the worst offenders. How many time have you been watching a sports event, even golf, when the announcer will talk about a television program on their network being the top choice among viewers. I often doubt that they have even seen the programs. Even Reader’s Digest is guilty of self promotion. Six of the above mentioned ads were for their products or telling readers how to read the magazine online.

6. Ads PI. While I’m on the subject of television, who is running the advertisement department? It never fails that during a commercial break especially in the evening there will be a series or 4 or 5 ads in which two and sometimes three are for very similar products or services. For example Ford trucks outperform in carrying heavy duty loads, then Toyota has a higher performance rating than all others, and the third might be a Chevy built tough. If I were head of the division that bought this air time I would complain about the placement of similar ads. Speaking of ads how irksome are those infomercials?

7. Reality TV is another PI. Get over it! It’s not real! I get irked when I realize how many shows feature performers shouting, criticizing, and carrying on as if this is how we behave in real life. Visit a courtroom for a day even an hour. I feel safe in saying even the judge will not come up with one zinger. Try camping out in the woods for a week then check your reality. IRK

8. The eighth PI always gives me a heavy heart . It is the on scene interviews with friends and families of victims involved in accidents, natural disasters, fires or other horrible incidents. People are in no condition to answer reporters questions about the incident and I see no compelling reason to broadcast this live.

9. The cable service overload PI is actually two irkers. The first occurs during television broadcast as the announcer points out that all their stories plus more news/information can be found on “Our Website” – www. Channel X.com. What do they think we tuned into the broadcast for? From personal experience I know that it is hard to read and keep a sustainable thought after 10:30pm and medical professionals tell us we should turn off electronics at least one hour before retiring. The second is receiving offers to subscribe for cable tv or internet service through commercials or online. Irker alert, I’m already watching on a television and with present day regulations the only way I can be doing this is to be a cable or dish subscriber. The ultimate insult is that my service is usually being offered at a lower price and we are not elegible, the deal is only available for new subscribers. Irk irk. While we’re on the topic of cable service another irker is offers for internet service on the internet. I thought I was being so smart watching my favorite network tv shows 24 hours after they had aired on the computer while doing something else. Now before you can watch the show you have to listen to a infomercial for a cable service. Once again irker alert – I’m already connected to the internet and don’t want to pay for rewiring my house along with new holes in the walls or floor or exterior walls because you can’t use the outlets available.

10. The Instructions PI. For a long time I thought my eyes were going bad when I couldn’t read the instructions on the box of cake mix. So I’d go hunt up my reading glasses and realize the space now held two sets of instructions, one in English and the other in Spanish. Like many of my contemporaries I carried on and the cakes were delicious. Now I view the grocery store as a chance to review my long ago college Spanish lessons. Then I began to notice that every new appliance (new range), toy (Grandchildren), and gadgets too numerous came with multi page books on how to assemble or maintain. The raised garden boxes we recently purchased contained a small 12 page how to leaflet. In the kitchen we now have an entire shelf for instruction booklets we need to consult.

11. The Tag PI. Is it just me or does your muffin top roll frequently become irritated by those stiff tags attached on the side seam of the garment? Thank goodness undergarments now come with all the necessary information stamped on the inside, I was tired of cutting off tags. Have you every noticed the tag sticking out on your throw rugs or bed linens. Once again I make good use of those super sharp scissors, I have a pair just for tag removal. The most irksome are the towel and wash cloth tags. I have actually scratched my cheeks!

12. Folding PI. This irker arises when I try to fold bed sheets and towels. Fitted sheets are the worst, my arms just aren’t long enough to neatly contain the seam corners which seem to be rounded and the sides of our queen size linens. Towels are impossible to fold flat once the decorative edges shrink. I have towels that shrank almost two inches and when folded the shrinkage seems to bunch and bulge. Irk

13. The last PI is the Renaming PI. I get irked when stadiums, arenas, and even games/tournaments are renamed for a national brand or corporation. What happened to traditions? Whoever heard of Charming Stadium or The Ty-D Bol Bowl? Charming didn’t build that stadium taxpayer dollars did and a university’s location as well as reputation established many tournament/bowl titles. The ultimate blow came while watching football last fall. I realized that the Heisman Trophy was now sponsored by Nissan and AFLAC among others. IRK!

I have concluded after reading this list that I may be having a gloomy Gus day, am watching way too much television or just have way too much free time.
Hope your day is IRK free