Monday, October 31, 2011

It's Halloween

Halloween has always been a favorite of most kids, I think, but since we've been here in SC, it seems it's nearly as important to adults and children alike. There have been decorations in many yards for most of the month. TV has been blaring about parties and Trunk or Treat events for almost as long.  And of course, this evening, there will be all manner and sizes of ghouls and ghosts at the door.

I don't remember Halloween being quite so celebrated back home as it seems to be here. Yes, there were  parties in our classrooms, costumed youngsters parading around the school parking lot or gym, much to the delight of parents who rearranged lunch hours to attend.  There were scout troups and classes which adopted a store window to decorate with paints and soap, and then walks around town to see the artistic ventures. Trick or treating took place after school, before dark, for the younger set, and a bit later for the older kids.

 A few homes decorated their yards like graveyards or haunted houses, but for the most part, a few jack o lanterns invited kids to the door. In this neighborhood, there are orange lights lit, pumpkins with electric lit faces, skeletons appearing to rise from the ground, and inflatable goblins. Tonight we'll answer the knock to  people in cute little  princess dresses to sixteen year olds in black hoodies. One year when I opened the door, there was a woman who lives up the street, dressed in a black spotted cow costume...udder and all.  She gave me a good laugh!  And she'd done it just for one else was visited that night by Moo!

 I think I'll get some take out food for our dinner tonight. Invariably the cooking gets interrupted, and often the devouring of it, as well.  It's's only once a year, and I love seeing the kids with all their excitement over their costumes and over-flowing treat bags! I guess I'd better get out my witch's hat. I'll put on my black sweater and skirt and the tall chapeau, and hand out the goodies! 

                                           The church we were members of focused on missions
                                          during the month of October. The kids were encouraged
                                          to choose a country, and learn as much about it as
                                          they could, and then dress in a costume depicting that
                                          place. Here, my children are representing Africa, Japan,
                                          Spain, China and India...1979

However you choose to celebrate, have fun, Kids...of all ages.... and please, stay safe!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rejoice with Those

This portion of a verse in the Bible has been playing over and over in my mind for more than a week now. You see, a friend and church-mate was operated on not quite two weeks ago. She'd had a non-cancerous brain tumor which could have had devastating results, but didn't.  There is nothing that can make you rejoice in your heart more than seeing God answer your prayers. Robin woke from her surgery, waving her hand around, and rejoicing in God's goodness to her. Knowing that surgery was a success for her caused me to rejoice with her!

To see her attend church 6 days after surgery filled me, as well as our church family, with thanksgiving!  We so often pray for things to happen, and we expect God to work. He never disappoints us, but often does things differently from what we might have asked. You see, He knows ALL things....we have only tunnel vision. He knows what's best.... we see only what we want.  In this case, we got what we prayed for, and as we see Robin recuperating quickly, we are filled with joy and gratitude!

Last night we took a meal to the family, to make things a little easier on them all.  Her husband is at home for a bit of time while she heals, and he's capable of cooking. But, why not help where we can?  We shared a nice visit with them all before leaving them to have their dinner, which was a bit delayed by our visit. We left the home with renewed joy in the fact that other than one foot that doesn't want to respond to the brain's command, Robin is good as new! I have every hope that, in time, the foot will stop being stubborn, and do what it is meant to do. 

In the meantime, we lift our prayers in thanks for all that has taken place in this matter. We rejoice with those who rejoice.... and we continue to ask for complete healing in the future. Thank you, Lord!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

There's Thrifty and Then There's.....

my husband.

My husband is of Scotch-Irish descent. Now, I don't know if it's true of all Scots, but this character always says, "I'm too Scotch" whenever he thinks a price is too high, and he will do his utmost not to waste a thing ...other than time and storage space. He saves all the mayonnaise jars, assorted other jars of various sizes, coffee cans with lids, plastic coffee cans with lids, and any other container that he can get away with. get the picture. When I get tired of tripping over garbage bags full of them in the garage, I strongly suggest, at the risk of starting a war the likes of which would make WWII look like a playground scuffle, that he might take some of them to the dump on his next trip. Then I suggest that it might be a good idea to make that trip soon.

Now, please understand that I am of the ilk to save some things...but not everything. I was reared by parents born in Depression times, and I was taught not to waste. I'm fairly good at it, but even I couldn't believe my eyes today.  Picture this. My beloved marched into the sunroom where I was happily listening to music by Selah while I worked on making some Christmas cards.  In one hand he held a pair of his work boots. In the other hand he held a mismatched pair of sneakers.  He asked me to applaud. I asked why. He told me that these were making their way to the garbage.  WHAT?!!  Did my ears deceive me?!!  My husband is throwing away not one pair, but TWO pairs of shoes?!  I asked if the mates to the mismatched sneakers had already made their way to the refuse bin, and he told me that they hadn't. They still had wear left in them, soles in tact (unlike the flapping ones on the pair that was on the way out.)  His intention was to wear them in the white one with black trim, New Balance brand, the other white with what used to be Navy trim, by the brand of Fila.  Pardon me... I must correct myself. Neither is white anymore...but one is rustier white than the other from the red clay, and I must say that neither shoe is in very much better shape than the sad things he threw away.

When I picked up my jaw from the floor and composed myself after a rib-splitting fit of laughter, I calmly told him that this little experience would make a terrific blog subject...and asked his permission to share this story, just in case he might find some embarressment in wearing an odd pair of shoes. He leaned back in the wing chair and asked me, "No...I don't mind. Why would I mind?"  I said, "Well, I just thought you might not want me to share this with the world."  His response was, "Go ahead. I'm never gonna meet any of them." 

C'mon. It's not like we can't afford another pair of sneakers. It's not like he'd wear them, either, if I bought him a brand new pair. He'd wait 'til all 'the wear' has left these, and then he'd move the new ones into the 'good wear' group and  demote another old pair to the yardwork set. It's a losing battle. I took my wedding vows very seriously, and truth be known, I wouldn't want to be without this goofy guy...quirks and all.

Sometimes I wonder if  his age is catching up with him, but then I remember how he's been 'Scotch' since before I met him, and also quite good at making me laugh.  Just as long as he doesn't take off to work at the preacher's house or the church wearing those gardening mis-mates, I guess I won't have him committed....yet.  However, I can't vouch for the neighbors when they see him in those things!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Local History...

East Hampton, New York is situated on the eastern end of Long Island, surrounded by ocean and bay beaches. It is steeped with American history...since it's beginning in the mid-1600's. The architecture speaks of the Englishmen who settled there, first around what is now known as Town Pond.

In those days, there were animals who were kept nearby, who watered at the pond.  It is an idyllic and serene area...or would have been in that day. (Today the traffic there is busy, as it is the entrances to the Main Street and the commercial area.) 

I have heard and read, though I don't know if it is factual, that punishments in those days might be a good dunking in the pond on the dunking stool.  Such a device was constructed of a long pole with a seat on the end, which was lowered into the water by strong men on the other end of the pole, which was supported in the center-area by a  horizontal cross pole.  I'm sure the whole procedure was embarrassing to those on the water end of the stick. Probably the entire town came out to witness the carrying out of the sentence. 

The use of stocks, too, was a method of punishment. Offenders would be placed in a sort of wooden yoke, attached between two posts. The head would go into a center half circle, and the hands would be stuck into the openings beside the head, and then another board with the other half circle would come down over the neck and wrists, and be locked, so that the criminal would be standing, trapped, for all to see....or perhaps to be pelted with rocks, dirt, vegetables or eggs.  If that wasn't enough, the stocks were built in such a way that when one was in them, the body was bent at the waist. It would not be so comfortable for the back or legs, I would imagine!

There are tales of shipwrecks and Captain Kidd's treasure off the shores of East Hampton. There are stories which took place during the Revolutionary War and of colorful characters who lived in East Hampton since it's settlement.  There are accounts of famous people, artists and actors, and others, who took up residence in the lovely little seaside community. So much history to learn of, to read of, to know that is a part of my own heritage.

But, I know so little. It is a shame, I think, that the school does not teach a local history class for all the students who live in the area.  Some wouldn't be interested, any more than they are interested in learning about things that happened in foreign countries throughout time, and yet they are forced to learn World History.  I think it would be a terrific service to the children of East Hampton, especially those whose families go back to the beginning, as mine did, to offer them the chance to know the area that their ancestors played a part settling. For those students whose families are newer to the area, wouldn't it be nice for them to learn, too, all that has gone before them?

Maybe I'll write a letter to the school board and suggest  the formation of such a class, and then ask if I might sit in on it!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mexican Food

Yesterday morning, I took Mom to an appointment.  As is sometimes the case, she treated me to lunch, following her 'date'.  We chose "Fiesta" this time. It was a perfect choice for me since I hadn't been there in a good while, and Mike isn't really excited about the place. He never gets what he thinks he's ordered, so he's often disappointed.

I'm never disappointed in Fiesta's food. It's abundant, it's tasty, and it is not at all pricey. I always end up taking half of it, or more, home in a styrofoam box. Yesterday I ordered the 'lunch fajita' for  $6.99 and took enough home that I ate it for dinner, as well, and was sufficiently fed at both times.  The dinner fajita is a larger version of the same things...a choice between chicken or beef strips, mixed with peppers, onions and spices,three small tortillas, refried beans, shredded lettuce and tomatoes, quacamole and sour cream. Add a little salsa from the dip bowl they bring with corn tortilla chips when you first sit down, and you can say you've been well-fed! 

I've always liked tacos, tortillas with anything (meat or cheese or vegetables or any combo of the afore-mentioned), chili. I don't like things too spicey, but do prefer just enough 'bite' to know that you've got something different from the norm.  We make these types of meals at home, but somehow, it's not the same as the taste you get at Fiesta or other places like it. 

I will keep trying, though! Do you have a favorite Mexican food? Or maybe you don't like it at all? If you don't, let me know....I'll eat your share!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thinking Back...

We've done some camping in our day...both inside and outside.  My earliest recollection of camping with Dad, Mom and my brothers, we were up around Lake Placid, NY.  Dad had built a camp fire and he and Mom were going to cook supper for us kids. I watched as Dad rubbed a bar of soap all over the outside of the kettle that we used to use for picking blackberries in the summer. When I asked why he was doing that, he explained that it would make the pot easier to clean the soot from when we washed it.  It's a tip that I've never forgotten, and have used many times in our camping....even when we've cooked over the fireplace flames.

Another bit of advice has stuck with me.  Dad once read in the Yankee magazine that you can keep creosote from building up on the walls of your fireplace or woodstove chimney by burning your potato peelings in the fire.  I don't have any idea if that's  truth or falsehood, but I used to do it when we burned our fireplace, and I never had a chimney fire, and very few chimney cleanings.

It's funny, with all the little things you hear in your lifetime, what things stick with you. I could probably come up with a big dump truck-load of things that Dad or Mom have told me that would be far more valuable to my living than those little bits. But...that's what I'm thinking about today!  I'd love to hear if you've got any helpful tips like that, that you've never forgotten. Just curious...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's Cold!

This morning, when I woke up, I heard the heat pump kick on. I wonder how many times it did that during the night?  I got up, went to the living room, where the thermostat was set on 63, and the temperature in the room was the same.  I noticed that the french door was open from the kitchen to the sun porch, a space that is unheated. So, I shut the door, and lowered the thermostat to 60 deg. I knew that when the sun rose, it would be slightly warmer in the house. I dressed in my sweats, with a hoodie and warm socks. I haven't gotten warm enough yet.

So I yielded to my urge to hike up the thermostat by one degree....just a few minutes ago. The room is now 62 degrees. It might as well be below zero, it doesn't feel much warmer to me than that, after all those days when we hovered eighty degrees. Then BOOM! A cold front blew through here, and dropped things by twenty degrees.  I feel like it's winter!

 I don't need to drag out the woolies, but with such a difference in daytime temps, it does feel uncomfortable. So, I'll put on more clothing...or heavier.... and just try to get used to it. If I have to turn on the heat, I will, but it's really not what I want to do.  It's too soon, and with the rising rates on the  power bills, I would like to delay that move as long as I can. On the other hand, I don't want to look like I'm having a seizure as I shiver, either. 

I wish we had a REAL fireplace...where we could burn wood. We just might have to consider that option...pretty soon.  The electric stove takes the chill off, and gives the idea that there's a warm flame burning in it, but because it's electric, it's not a saver at all.

We'll manage to get through another cold season, but I don't want it to start too early...or last very long. Meanwhile, I guess I'll just have to take it day by day, and worry about tomorrow when it gets here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Computer Stuff...

Just before as I was about to sit down to dinner last night, the phone rang. Generally at that time, it is someone calling to sell us something, get our vote, or offer us a lower rate on the mortgage we don't even have one of. So, if the phone is handy, I check to see, and if it is, I don't answer it. Since the phone wasn't near, I didn't bother to see who was calling. I'd check it, and would call them back, if it was someone I cared to speak with.
Within a few minutes, Mom was ringing our doorbell. I asked why she was wandering over in the rain, and frustrated, she answered, " didn't answer your phone, so I came over here."  She was in a tizzy because her computer wouldn't work, and she was about to give up. Taking a deep breath, and letting it out slowly, I mustered all the patience I could, and told Mike I'd be right back. Then I went across the street to see what was wrong with the computer.

I listened as Mom vented. I gave her a pep talk, telling her that she just needs to learn the updated programs.  I said, "you told me you could learn this if you practiced, so you have to keep practicing! Don't give up...."  all the while feeling that I was right about my original thoughts that this expensive new machine was going to frustrate her to the limit. But even knowing that before she bought it, and warning her that it would be a challenge, how could I possibly take away her desire to have something to do, or discourage her determination?  I couldn't, and so, against my better judgement....and with a great deal of 'knowing' that I'd be on call whenever she turns on the computer, I said very little.

The problem last night was multi-faceted.  She couldn't get the computer to do 'anything!'  The instructions typed into the keyboard were met with no reaction.  I quickly discovered why. The keyboard was locked. On top of that, the cap lock key was on, so the password wouldn't be accepted.
After we freed all that, I had to, once again, walk Mom through the process of getting to her AOL mail. That's kind of a toughie for her to remember, as it's so different from the  older version she'd been using, which was so simple. 

Adding to Mom's computer problems is my brother, who is somewhat of a curmudgeon. A few months ago, when she could manuever her old machine, she set up an email account for him. He gets very little email, but because of a recent reunion with some Navy buddies, he does get a few forwards, and a lot of Spam.  He is at Mom's daily to read it. He hasn't a clue even how to turn on the computer, let alone get around it. He stands over Mom while she tries to find her way, and when she can't remember, he's impatiently telling her to push this and do that, which only further frustrates them both.  Arrrrrg!  He should get his OWN...but then I'd have to give him a class....and truthfully, I haven't got the patience for that and it ain't-a gonna happen!

So....I begin this day, not knowing what'll come. I will not borrow trouble....for each day has enough surprises. I'm here for Mom...and will be....but also hope that she'll manage to learn this stuff as soon as she can, so that her frustration will be diminished.  

Have a wonderful day, everyone!  May yours be problem-free and relaxing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


An old song that I learned in the Girl Scouts about a hundred years ago says:

"Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver, and the other's gold."

I have always believed it to be so. I've never like losing track of old friends, especially dear ones, but sometimes others just don't hold up their end of communications, so it's often hard to stay updated.

Since I'm a people-person, I enjoy meeting and making new friends,as well. I've met some wonderful people, face to face, and many on-line ones too, who share similar interests.  But today, I'm going to focus on old friends.

Facebook and other networking sites are good for reconnecting. It's been my pleasure to be a part of the Facebook world for awhile now. It keeps me updated on my kids lives, as things happen, as well as affording me the ability to chat with some that I grew up with, went to school with, or otherwise have known in  the past. We've re-established friendships across the wires and have shared memories and current life events. We've visited with some and invited them to visit us in our home.  It's great fun!

This morning we met a guy and his wife for breakfast. We've tried four other times in the last two years to have this reunion, and one couple or the other had to cancel for one or another reasons.  Finally, we tried again...and were successful.  Ron and I last saw each other about 25 years ago.  Since then, we've both remarried, moved to new states and retired from our jobs.  Going back more than 40 years ago, we were teenaged sweethearts...eventually marrying others and having families. I've never been sorry that we didn't end up together, but always wanted us to stay friends, which we did, however lax we were in communicating. was terrific meeting his wife...and catching up on things in each others' lives. 

I hope that it is the beginning of a more frequent stream of conversation, and perhaps visits. We live ten hours from each other, but still, with the blessing of internet and telephones, there's no reason why we shouldn't keep up with each other in the future.

So...go ahead, make your new friends...but keep those old ones heart, and mind.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Allllllllllllllrighty then...I won't make the apple pie and cookies I'd planned to make today. I can't very well bake without an oven, can I?  The element burned out in the oven the other night. We got through the weekend, though...and will order a new element today.

I've got so much to do, I think my head is spinning with ideas.  Some have time limits, so those should be taken care of first, I suppose, even if my attentions are diverted by things I'd rather do. As my granddaughter sings every now and then, "You can't always get what you wa-aant". True.

So...where shall I start on the many time limited chores?  I have trouble looking at things in small pictures. If I have a mess to clean up, I know the thing to do is to start in one spot, and keep going until the full job is done, but I have a problem doing that. I look at the whole pile of stuff, for instance, and see how much there is to put away, and am prone to walk off and do something else.  I wonder if I'm ADD undiagnosed.   Naaaah...I can focus...I just prefer not to do those jobs that require a lot of time, I guess. that I've let another secret about me out of the bag, I'm going to divert my attentions from this computer to the pile of stuff I've collected on the coffee and end tables.  Time to neaten this place up...and then....I'll start one of the time-limited chores. 


Sunday, October 16, 2011


Every day I hope I can get those shutters painted. Every day something stops me. Again yesterday, it was the weather. Before I got outside after posting my blog entry, the weather turned very breezy,squashing my hopes one more time.  It's not that important, in the grand scheme of things, but it is a job that I'd like to get done. I guess it'll still be there....whenever the planets align or God shows favor at the same time that 92 other things don't  shout my name.

I guess it's true about me....I am determined child. I was told that more than once when I was little...and once I got an idea into my head, it was hard to dissuade me from it.  I can think of one instance, when I was quite little. I don't know where the thought came from, but I really thought that when I grew up, I'd be a man. No amount of talking to me helped, my mind would not be changed from that idea.  I cannot tell you when I realized that  I was wrong about becoming a man, but the light dawned some time or another.

Stubbornness seems to run in our family. My brother is about as determined as anyone can be to be right. He will argue the point until the listener gives up trying, or he gives up and goes off in a huff, but he won't change his mind.  My Mom has a saying, "Never say 'never'. Recently she's adopted another one, "I Won't Give Up."  Determination... it can be a good thing, or a not so good thing.

So....I'll spend this sunny, perfect painting day riding in the car to a new area in order to find a restaurant where we'll be meeting an old friend and his wife on Tuesday. My mind has not waivered from the task at hand....but those shutters will be waiting for me when I can get them done.  I'm determined.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Today Is Mine...

My shutters have been sanded for weeks....and waiting for their new coat of paint. First there was a windy week, where I couldn't paint, for fear that the color would dry between the can of paint and the shutter. Yes...I'm going for 'rustic', but not streaks made by a stiff brush!

Then we had a rainy week...and finally I had a very busy week of running around and setting up Mom's new computer. (Oh yes...that was a challenge!  I still haven't figured out why the printer will not install, but I will.  I'm nearly as determined a woman as my Mom is. She is determined that she will overcome all these new changes they've made to computers, AOL, etc. since she bought her last 'toy' five or so years ago. Of course, that will mean multiple phone calls and visits from me to instruct and remind, but in the's all good. It will keep Mom busy with something when there's no one around to keep her company. At the very least, she'll be able to play her Free Cell games until help arrives for other things.
The 21" screen and the fact that you can push control and plus keys to enlarge internet pages, is a great change for her....and a huge help to anyone with vision problems. So, she's off on a new adventure!)

Today is a perfect day for painting. The weather is glorious, and will be 77 deg by 4pm. The paint will go on smoothly and dry quickly.  Today is dedicated to this endeavor, and so I bid you a fond adieu, and will see you when I next see you!  I hope your day goes just as you plan for it to! Enjoy it!

Friday, October 14, 2011

This Week...

Monday....Took Mom to the radiology office for a bone density scan. She has some osteoporosis, so they do these scans every couple of years or so.

Tuesday....Took Mom to the hospital for a nuclear stress test. When she'd gone for a check up to her family doctor, he listened to her heart with the stethoscope, and he heard her heart skip a beat. (No, not because she's in love with him!) He did an immediate EKG and then determined that she should have a stress test. Thinking that, because she is 85 years old and walks with a cane, she could not withstand a tread mill, he ordered the injection type of test.  I've got news for Dr. S.  Mom could have out-done me, for sure, on that tread mill, but he is a careful doctor, and not one to take chances, so injection-type it was.  It took all morning, and she wasn't terribly pleased about the whole business. When she came out to the waiting room, she firmly reported that she was 'never going to do that again! She was also wearing a Holter monitor which she'd have to wear for the next 24 hours.

Wednesday...Took Mom back to the cardiology unit at the hospital for removal of the monitor. She was glad to get that off and the electrodes and wires that were attached from it to her body.  We were instructed to make a follow up appointment with the doctor. We left the hospital and went to Best Buy to peruse the computer section. Mom's old one quit, and she wants to buy a new one. I'm a bit concerned that she won't be able to operate the updated programs, as she doesn't see well and they can be confusing enough for someone who has perfect vision. I'd hate for her to spend all that money, and not be able to use it. But, she likes to play her games, and can do so little else, I'm careful not to say anything very discouraging. Anyway, she's determined.

Thursday.... I balanced Mom's checkbook (I almost never do my own!)  Then I wrote out her checks for her to sign and addressed envelopes for her. I also made numerous phone calls for her to get work done on two houses. we will go and pick up the new computer, which she has decided is the answer to her long, boring days. It seems to me to be a rather pricey toy, if it will be used mostly for puzzles and card games....but it's not my money, and not my long, boring days.

Not often, but sometimes I feel as if I'm living my Mom's life, rather than my own. When I realize how selfish that sounds/is, I erase the thought!  After all, she can't help it if all of her hobbies and interests have been stolen by poor eye-sight and failing hearing. She can't help it if she's a widow or that can't drive herself hither and yon, and she can't help it that age is causing more and more doctors and appointments.  She can't help the fact that she needs some aid in doing things, like balancing checkbooks and writing envelopes.  God gave this wonderful Mom to me, and she was always there for me and my family, to help in any way she could: babysitting, offering a listening ear or a word of wisdom, even giving a short term loan at times.

I'd so much rather have her with us than not to have her. I'd prefer to help her as much as I can, rather than have her in a nursing home, or even to hire an aide to come to the house. She doesn't need all that much care and we all hope that she never will. She just needs a few hours, sometimes every single day of the week, but that's ok with me. So many other elderly people need so much more requiring their children to be there around the clock. Mom has decided many times over that she will NOT live with us, but will do 'something else' if it comes to that. She's welcome, but she wants to live independently as much as she's able.  I do wish, however, that we could find a person to clean her house. With my bad hip and back, I don't do real well on my feet that long, and my own house suffers because of that. Try as we have, we still haven't located anyone who has shown up.

So, all of my plans for this week, painting shutters, cleaning my house, getting my ornaments made for the Christmas exchange, have been put on hold. It's really alright. Those things will always be there waiting, but who knows how long  Mom will be here?  As long as she is, I will be there for her...and I won't regret a minute of it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

At the Hospital

We checked in at the desk in the cardiology dept. We'd no sooner gotten through the signing of the forms when a tall young man summoned Mom to follow him. As I watched her walk away, through the doors which would take her into the nuclear medicine area where I could not accompany her. I felt a little sad as I knew, from experience, what she'd be doing for the next few hours, and it would make her nervous not to have me near. She was about to undergo a 3-4 hour stress test where she'd be injected with nuclear dye which would make her heart race for a few minutes, while the doctor followed the action on a monitor.  It isn't such a bad test, but when you are a legally blind, partially deaf, 85 year old woman, all the waiting (much of it alone) and having nothing to do can be a bit upsetting.

I heard that familiar sound of Mom's cane clicking against the floor and then she was out of hearing distance and out of sight as the doors closed behind her.  I turned and went to the waiting room, choosing a seat at the end of the row near a small table. From there, I could watch the comings and goings of hospital personnel and where I'd be able to see Mom coming when she'd be ushered out. I tried to read, but it was impossible for me to do with the wall-hung tv blaring on the Fox channel. I thumbed through a current issue of Woman's Day magazine, absorbing very little.

Before long, I heard a male voice at the desk in the hall. I looked up to see two elderly men. One was a patient, the other was his younger brother. They came into the waiting room and chose chairs in 'my' row, leaving one vacant between us. The younger man looked at me, and as is the custom here in the south when someone looks you in the eye, I smiled and said good morning.  It was the beginning of a conversation which went on for the remainder of the morning, until they were called to see the older man's doctor.

Mr. M. was easy to talk with, a true gentle man. He was a soft-spoken Christian man, and it was obvious in his statements and in his testimonies. Mr. M. told me that he's 84 years old and in very good health. His wife, he said, is not doing so well. He has two brothers and a sister, the oldest of whom is 93 years old, the youngest one, 78 years old.  He spent his life as a farmer, starting out with cotton until the textile industry was sent overseas, and the local mills closed. Afterward they grew grains, and now they are, in his words, 'just cruising.'  Being a northerner, I'm not familiar with the growing of cotton, and asked him if what we were told was true. "Does cotton deplete the soil so that it's not good for other crops?" He told me, "Not at all. You just harvest your crop, the machines cut the remainders, and it goes back into the soil. You feed your land the nutrients, and it'll grow things. Leave it alone, and you'll struggle."   We talked about women's fashions after a very tall, large-boned but not heavy, woman hobbled by wearing tall wedged shoes that had straps all around the ankle...and a skirt that met her leg about six inches above the knee.  He shook his head and said with a chuckle, "I don't understand".  We talked much about the Lord, about church, about how some churches present over-bearing "requests" for people in church to 'serve the Lord' in specific places. We agreed that service is important, but that ministries can range from a mother staying home to minister to her young children, rather than hiring a sitter, so that her husband can go to choir rehearsal, all the way to the Pastor's position.  He said "there will be lots of time later for that young mother to minister in the church, should the Lord lead her to do that."

We passed the time away in pleasant conversation, until Mr. M's brother was called in for his appointment. Off they went, leaving me with thanks God for bring me someone so kind to share the morning with. I didn't find out where the man lived, or what his name was, other than to hear the nurse call his brother by name. I thought I'd never see him again, but when Mom and I returned yesterday to the hospital for removal of the 24 hour monitor, guess who I met at the elevator! This time, the meeting was brief, as we needed to make our appointment, but what a joy to see him again and introduce him to Mom!

The Lord is good, bringing just the right person along, at just the right time, for just the right reasons..... and I'm grateful!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Taking Leave....

While writing about the leaves of Fall the other day, I found myself with more thoughts than room to write them.
Do you remember collecting the prettiest of the fallen colored leaves?  As kids, and as the mother of five little people, I have spent many an Autumn season searching for just the 'right' leaf. That ever-present sibling rivalry meant each of the kids would hunt for the 'best' one. Of course, since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we actually all "won" the competition. 

After we took the leaves back home, we would lay our piles out, carefully sorting them. The red and gold maples, the crimson tinged, the rust-colored, the brillian orange oaks, the bright yellow sassafras....each would be lined up and examined with a critical eye. The ones we chose as 'best' would then be placed between two layers of waxed paper, and Mom would seal them in with a warm iron. That would preserve their color for a little longer, and we could keep our treasure in our rooms to look at for as long as we wanted to.

Each year when Fall comes along, I bring some into the house in various ways. I look for lovely, fallen leaves, but I also bake some.  A few years ago, I found a copper cookie cutter set of leaves and acorns.
There are several shaped leaves and sizes, and they cut the dough with true precision. The doughs are flavored with lemon, sugar and cinnamon, or spices similar to gingerbread. They are baked, and frosted with yellow, orange, red, and rust icings, and piped with dark brown veins. It's fun and creative, as well as tasty. This year, there are new pumpkin and apple shaped cookie cutters. It may be time to start that project!
And with that, I'll take my leave....
(PS: Visit my friend's blog for a giveaway!  

Friday, October 7, 2011

Those Autumn Leaves....

Here in SC we are just beginning to see the first signs of color on some of the trees. It will be a few weeks before the blazing glory that they usually show.  It is so pretty here that I often wonder why so many people flock to the north of us to see the display of color. We did it,too, one year...and while the views from the mountain roads looking out over the valleys was indeed awesome, I feel the same way right here in our area when those colors come.

We've got a maple tree in the diciduous stand behind the house. It gives us the most beautiful, brilliant gold every year. There are several varieties of oaks and dogwoods, as well as the sweet gum trees with their 5 pointed leaves, and all never fail to offer their vibrant gifts. Combined with the dark greens of the pines and cedars, it's never a disappointment.

When I grew up on eastern Long Island, NY, there were always leaves to rake. There must have been a certain Tom Sawyer game going on between parents and children to get us to rake, but we never caught on, if there was. We would rake the crisp, colored leaves into large piles, and then tear across the yard, taking turns destroying the crunchy mountains with our bodies. We'd pick up huge handsful of the leaves and toss them high into the air.

Eventually, all of the leaves would be raked out into the road in front of Grandma's house where we lived. Once the piles made it to the street, we were cautioned not to jump into those piles. For reasons of safety from passing cars, of course, but also because those piles would be burned and no one wanted to have to sweep them up again for that purpose.  One early evening, the leaves would be ignited, and we kids would get to toss the horse chestnuts into the fire where they would pop and snap when the heat reached a certain point. The chestnuts were enclosed in a thick covering that had 1/2 inch 'stickers' on the outside. They weren't really sharp thorns, but they looked like they would be, and we collected bags full just so we could send them flying into the leaf fire. I never knew anyone to eat that sort of chestnut, althought it might have been an edible item. I tasted one when I was pretty young, and it was just fresh from the and bitter. That was it for me. I never ate another chestnut of any kind after that day.

From the time I was a youngster to this day, I've always loved the coming of Fall. The air seems clearer, the stars brighter, the days cooler, the sun more brilliant. The show-offy leaves a-turning, the rising woodsmoke on the night air and the brisk walks through the crispy, fallen, musty-smelling leaves, makes Fall one of my favorite times of the year...and this year reinforces that for me!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Chilly Day Means A Chili Day

The other day was so chilly that I just could not get warm. I had vowed not to turn on the heat yet, so I put on my sweat shirt over a turtleneck, my sweat pants and warm socks. I felt a little silly to think this Yankee girl was so cold when the temperature was in the low 60's in the South. My blood must have thinned since we moved south. 

To take the chill off in the house, I decided to make an apple pie, which I did. It's a good thing I chose to do it then, too, as the apples would be good for nothing in a few more days.  Then I determined that I'd make chicken chili for dinner with corn bread.  I'm not a very fussy cook, but I can make an edible, and occaisionally 'delicious' meal.  So, I got out 3 cans of white beans, a can of Mexican style stewed tomatoes, a couple of whole chicken legs, a handful of green and red and yellow bell pepper strips from our frozen supply and an onion.  I cooked the chicken, then sauteed the chopped onion and peppers. After the chicken was cooked and cooled, I stripped it from the bones, and put it into the pot with the sauteed vegetables, immediately adding all the cans of beans and the tomatoes, which I chopped into small pieces. I stirred the combination and put it over a low burner to simmer.  It was ready to eat as soon as it had heated through.

I'd been telling my mother for some time that I would be making chicken chili 'soon.'  She repeatedly said that she didn't like chicken chili. I asked if she'd ever had it, and she didn't know, but the thought didn't 'enthuse' her, she said.  So, I filled a small bowl with the thick soup and marched across the street to her house, determined to get her to taste it.  Mom doesn't see much anymore, except a small periferal area. I told her I'd brought something for her to taste. She asked what it was, and I said, "Just taste it."  So she did, and said, "Mmmm that's good. What is it?"  I told her "chicken chili." Do you like it?" I asked.  She said, with a mischievous look, "I don't like chicken chili, do I?"  I gently punched her arm and said, with a grin,  "no, I guess you don't. Shall I take the rest back home?"  She said, "No, I'll eat if for supper."   Score one for me!  I decided that I'm going to do that with a lot of other foods that Mom says she doesn't like. It's kind of like feeding children, I guess. You have to introduce them to something before you tell them what it is!

The chili was hot and filling and very satisfying, especially with the cornbread, which I baked in my black iron skillet in the oven. (I'm convinced that the cast iron frying pan makes anything cooked in it taste better!)  The pie was 'pretty good' too, if I do say so myself!

Autumn weather brings out the cook in me. I enjoy making hearty meals that come with the cooler weather...meatloaf, stews, roasts, thick soups and chilis. I like to bake pies and cookies, cakes too, but not so much.  Looks like I'll be nudging the Chef husband to move over at the stove and counter for awhile!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A New Day...

Well, folks...cookie day got skipped...again!  As often happens in life, a number of other things jumped in to my good intentions and stole away my time. Taking care of a dozen phone calls in regard to Mom's rental homes, contractors who have not met time constraints and arrival dates (by weeks!), and a number of other annoying little things.

One of those calls was  to a lab who did routine bloodwork in June. As always, I paid at the time of service , and I'm  now being billed for the same work. When I spoke to "Michelle", who was located in the billing office in another state,  she gave me a couple of excuses as to why the bill had been sent out.
"Payment hasn't yet been received."   My reply..."I paid the same day, as I do each time, at the front desk of the lab."  Michelle responded, "Oh, I see. Your check was no good, so it wasn't ever applied to your account."  Me: "Michelle, my check was perfectly fine. I had $700 plus in my checking account at the time, and there would be absolutely no reason for that check to be 'no good.'   Michelle: "Well, it was held to be put through a second time, and it wasn't any good."   Me, still politely: "I'm sorry, but that is not correct. I have never received a notice from the bank stating there was insufficient funds or a bounced check. I have not received a fee for such a check, and besides, I have overdraft protection at my bank. Something must be wrong on the billing end, because that check was good." Michelle: "Well, it's never gone through your bank, so you still owe this." 

After a few more minutes of this nonsense, I told her I'd check with my bank. I first checked my monthly statements. No check. I went to the bank and the teller tried to find my check there, but could not locate it. Therefore, I must assume that my payment was never put through the system.  Now I must make another call to that billing office. I will ask for my check to be returned or tell her to put it through, as it is still a good check. I KNOW she will tell me that the check has been destroyed. How do I know this?  Because I have been through this exact scenerio once before...last year.  I'm more than a little annoyed about this inefficiency, and I will begin to look for another lab. I do remember that day in June...the regular woman who works there at the desk was out to lunch, and my time with the 'fill in' was longer than necessary, as she couldn't figure out how to get into the computer without calling three people to get a password for access. From there, she couldn't figure out the billing program. I suspect that is where the trouble began. I wonder why they'd put a substitute at the desk, to receive payments who doesn't know how to operate their system?

So anyway,...the cookies didn't get made that day, but it's going to happen!  Yes, Ben...they will be homemade cookies. Yes, my husband will be happy...and yes, you're all still invited to stop in!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cookie Day

It's 65 degrees in my living room right now. Some windows are open in the sun room and the bedroom, but everything else is closed up because it's down-right chilly outside.  I think it's a day for cookie baking...among other things.

The oven will warm out the house, so I think I'll do them fairly early.  As the day progresses, the temperatures will rise, and then I won't want to bake. Besides, there are outside things I want to get done today.

So, shall I make chocolate chip cookies or should it be brownies or oatmeal or lemon bars?  I must make one choice...I don't want to be in the kitchen all day!  If I eat breakfast first, which I must because I'm currently famished, I probably won't want to make the cookies anymore.

But I'll do it anyway...because I haven't baked anything in ages.  Mike will be pleased to wake up to the fragrance of something yummy, and he'll be happy to do some real damage to a batch of homemade treats!  I surely do not need them to add to my 'hippie' status, but if they're there, I can tell you truthfully that I'll be eating some (translataion, "too many")  of them.

Well, enough I go!  Breakfast first, then cookies. Come on over if you can smell them baking!  I'd gladly share the joy of adding to your  hips!