Monday, February 23, 2009

Meaningful Monday

This is a wonderful piece by Michael Gartner, former editor of newspapers large and small, and former president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. It is well worth reading and a few good chuckles are guaranteed. Enjoy.

No Left Turns

My father never drove a car. Well, that's not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car.He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

'In those days,' he told me when he was in his 90s, 'to drive a car you had to do things with your hands ,and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it.' At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in: 'Oh, bull----!' she said. 'He hit a horse.'

'Well,' my father said, 'there was that too.' So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car.

The neighbors all had cars the Kollings next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford -- but we had none. My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we'd ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. 'No one in the family drives,' my mother would explain, and that was that. But, sometimes, my father would say, 'But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we'll get one.' It was as if he wasn't sure which one of us would turn 16 first.

But, sure enough, my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown.

It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car. Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make sense to my mother. So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive.. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father's idea. 'Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?' I remember him saying more than once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps -- though they seldom left the city limits -- and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work. Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)

He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin's Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish's two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home. If it was the assistant pastor, he'd take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests Father Fast ' and 'Father Slow.'

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he'd sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I'd stop by, he'd explain: 'The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored.'If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out -- and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream.

As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, 'Do you want to know the secret of a long life?''

I guess so,' I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

'No left turns,' he said.

'What?' I asked.

'No left turns,' he repeated. 'Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic. As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn.'

'What?' I said again.

'No left turns,' he said. 'Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that's a lot safer.. So we always make three rights.'

'You're kidding!' I said, and I turned to my mother for support.

'No,' she said, 'your father is right.. We make three rights. It works.' But then she added:'Except when your father loses count.'I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing.

'Loses count?' I asked.

'Yes,' my father admitted, 'that sometimes happens. But it's not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you're okay again.'

I couldn't resist. 'Do you ever go for 11?' I asked.

'No,' he said ' If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week.'

My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90. She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102. They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom -- the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

He continued to walk daily -- he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he'd fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising -- and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died. One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news.

A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, 'You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred.'

At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, 'You know, I'm probably not going to live much longer.'

'You're probably right,' I said.

'Why would you say that?' He countered, somewhat irritated.

'Because you're 102 years old,' I said.

'Yes,' he said, 'you're right.'

He stayed in bed all the next day. That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night. He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said: 'I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead yet.' An hour or so later, he spoke his last words: 'I want you to know,' he said, clearly and lucidly, 'that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have .'A short time later, he died.

I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long. I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life, or because he quit taking left turns.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about those who don't. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.

(And make no left turns.)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mardi Gras Run

Cajuns and Creoles on French Louisiana’s rural prairies traditionally celebrate the last day before Lent by "running" Mardi Gras. Early on Mardi Gras morning—or in some cases on the Saturday or Sunday before—bands of disguised riders on horses or trailers set out to scour the countryside. Stopping at homes along the way, they sing, dance, clown, and coax hosts into donating "a little fat chicken," sausage links, onions, rice, or lard. Unmasked capitaines make sure the rowdy beggars (known as les Mardi Gras) behave themselves, reassuring homeowners that—despite all appearances—the mischievous visitors are not dangerous strangers, thieves, or troublemakers. In reality, their mission is to collect ingredients for a gros (big) gumbo, a meal they share with the community later that evening.

The country courir de Mardi Gras, or Mardi Gras run, belongs to an ancient tradition of masked begging processions—sometimes called midwinter "luck visits"—once widespread in Europe. As these customs spread to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, the Caribbean, and parts of the United States, they remained dynamic by adapting to new surroundings and changing times. By the middle of the 20th century, many Cajuns in French Louisiana had lost interest in running Mardi Gras (and Cajun culture in general) in a shift toward Americanization. The last two decades or so, though, have seen a revitalization of the country Mardi Gras celebration. Each year, more than a dozen rural Cajun communities, and several Creole communities, hold Mardi Gras runs that include anywhere from fifteen to hundreds of riders.

Information from: Country Mardi Gras Tradition

Quite a few people have asked me what Mudbugs/Crawfish are. I have read that the crawfish is a first cousin to the lobster. Personally I think the two of them taste an awful lot like. Since Crawfish are so much smaller than a lobster, it takes more crawfish to make a meal. "Louisiana Crawfish Boil" is the web site to check out for information on crawfish. This site will provide you with just about everything you might want to know about crawfish. It even explains how to eat crawfish. I eat them the Yankee way by picking the meat out of the shell and not by sucking it.

Have a great weekend........

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

laissez le bon temps rouler.......

.............. Let The Good Times Roll

I think that when it comes to Mardi Gras there is a misconception that it only takes place in New Orleans. New Orleans is certainly famous for it's Mardi Gras, but in fact Mardi Gras celebrations are all over Louisiana and Texas as well. Coach Dad even told me that they celebrate their own form of Mardi Gras in California. As I was researching more information on Mardi Gras to share with you, learned a new fact myself. Mardi Gras in America was actually begun in Mobile, Alabama in 1703. It wasn't until 1857, a year after the founding of a Mobilian mystic society, its members brought Mardi Gras to New Orleans. Yeah... I know, I was surprised too.

Mardi Gras has its historical roots in ancient European customs. The "Traditional Cajun Mardi Gras" dates further back in time than the New Orleans' style Mardi Gras. The term Mardi Gras which is French for "Fat Tuesday", refers to the ancient Druid custom of using oxen in celebrations commemorating the end of winter and the coming of spring. Hundreds of years ago, in France, the poor farmers did not have much to eat during the winter. When all the food was gone, the aristocrats would allow them to beg from house to house. During this time of celebration, the farmers would mock the kings, queens, bishops and teachers by dressing like them, but in rags and tattered clothing. As years passed the begging day turned into a holiday. Oxen were ceremoniously paraded through the village streets and countryside and then the oxen was hoisted above a wooden grate and sacrificed, thereby becoming the final meat meal before the start of what would later be known as Lent. The young Catholic Church adopted and purified this ritual, thus carnival as a pre-Lenten celebration was born. Carnival, loosely translated as "farewell to the flesh," stems from the Latin carnelevare. Carnival usually refers to the three or four week season of balls and pageants immediately prior to Fat Tuesday. When the French Acadians, or Cajuns, settled in Louisiana, they brought this old custom with them.

~ Lake Charles, LA Mardi Gras Trivia

I'll have more information and history for you tomorrow on Mardi Gras.

I stopped by "Betty's This and That" this morning and saw that Betty's husband, Ed discovered Sunday night that he had blood in his urine. He was to see his doctor yesterday and Betty asked that we keep Ed in our prayers. I have provided a link to Betty's blog so you can stop by and offer them a few words of support.

May your blessings be many, as you travel through life's journey.

Love is.........

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Let The Good Times Roll

With Mardi Gras coming up soon I thought I might share some of the history and tradition behind this grand party. Food (and plenty of it) is a big part of the Cajun life style. If there is a reason to celebrate something, then there is a reason to have lots of food. There is a story that one of the Louisiana politicians was visiting in another state and was taken to see their zoo. This Louisiana politician shared with the others that the name plaques outside of the cages in Louisiana didn't just contain the name of the animal, but also the recipes.

Crawlfish or Mud bugs is as much of a treat to anyone from Louisiana as Lobster is to a Yankee. Being a fan of both, I think the only difference between the two is size. There is a restaurant in the Rayne area of Southwest Louisiana called Hawks. You drive forever through the back roads of the country past miles of rice fields and Crawlfish ponds to get to it. This is unlike any other restaurant that you might have dined at because they close their doors when Crawfish season is over. They have the best there is to offer though and what time they are open, they are packed. Crawfish can't get any fresher than being raised right out the back door of the restaurant.

History of the King Cake...

The Feast of the Epiphany (the coming of the wise men baring gifts) is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. It is traditionally a time of celebration and feasting. The "King Cake" is named in honor of the three kings.

A tiny baby is found inside of every cake. There was a time when the baby would be made of porcelain or gold, but these days they are usually plastic. The King Cake Parties are very common throughout Louisiana. The tradition is, that the person receiving the slice of cake that contains the baby is asked to continue with another party and furnish the next King Cake.

As with everything, the King Cake has evolved from it's original beginnings as a simple ring of dough and a little decoration. The King Cakes of today can be very decorative and festive. After the dough is braided and baked, the baby is inserted and the cake topped with enough sugary icing in the Mardi Gras colors of Gold, Purple and Green to be the undoing of any diabetic.

The Mardi Gras Season begins on January 6, which is the Twelfth Night following Christmas. Mardi Gras Day is always 41 days prior to Easter Sunday.

Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday. Another connection with food. Ash Wednesday is the day during the Easter Season that traditionally kicks off Lent, the period of sacrifice and fasting. With that bit of knowledge, it isn't difficult to figure out what "Fat Tuesday" is all about. It is all about eating all of those goodies that you will be giving up for Lent.

Wishing you many blessings for the week ahead.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day ~ 2009

A Tribute to the Patron Saint of Love

Where there is love the heart is light,
Where there is love the day is bright,
Where there is love there is a song
To help when things are going wrong,
Where there is love there is a smile
To make all things seem more worthwhile,
Where there is love there's quiet peace,
A tranquil place where turmoils cease
Love changes darkness into light
And makes the heart take 'wingless flight'
Oh, blest are they who walk in love,
They also walk with God above
For God is love and through love alone
Man finds the joy that the SAINTS have known.
~Helen Steiner Rice

True Love
True love is a sacred flame
That burns eternally,
And none can dim its special glow
Or change its destiny.
True love speaks in tender tones
And hears with gentle ear,
True love gives with open heart
And true love conquers fear.
True love makes no harsh demands
It neither rules nor binds,
And true love holds with gentle hands
The hearts that it entwines.

~Helen Steiner Rice

JD and I wish you all a Valentine's Day
filled with love and happiness!

Friday, February 13, 2009


Where did the week go? It seems as if a month has passed since I posted last. On Wednesday I finally made it to my routine doctor's appointment that I have been trying to get to for the past three weeks. Due to ice and snow storms I had to reschedule it two times. My blood work results for the HDL and LDL was within 1 to 3 mg/dl of where it should be and the triglyceride was high by 23 mg/dl. A 173 mg/dl result for triglycerides is great progress for me, because in the past it has been considerably higher. Of course the A1C results for my diabetes was 8.6% which is a bit on the high side, the average being 4.4 to 6.3%. That leaves me with the Vitamin D test, which is still showing a deficiency. So I am back on the Vitamin D medication and increasing the insulin. I will be trying my best to make some improvement in the next three months.

We ran a few errands on the way home, one of which was looking for a percolator that we could use on the wood stove to make our coffee when the electric goes out. We have been in search of one of these since the last power outage during the ice storm. Super K-Mart carries them if anyone else is looking. It was getting very close to supper time by the time we headed for the mountain. We decided to just buy something that didn't require cooking. The winds were picking up when we pulled into the driveway and the sky opened up with the rain. I did a quick check of my e-mail and started to answer one when the lights flickered off and back on. I lost what I had written of course. I tried again and once more the lights went off and back on. I gave up on the e-mail and decided to go ahead and shut the computer down. Just as we were sitting down to eat dinner the lights went off for good. We ended up with a candle light dinner. The next morning we had wonderful coffee perked in our new coffee pot. We got our electric back about noon yesterday. They reported on the news last night that some areas won't be getting their electric back until Sunday. That storm was a bad one. We were fortunate and didn't suffer any damages. I am normally pretty calm when we have strong winds, but these winds were the strongest we have had since we have lived here and they were very loud. Even in the dark when I looked outside I could see the sky. There were several times that I went to the window to look for a funnel cloud because the winds were so loud and forceful. I realize that the wind sounded so loud because of all of the trees that are around us. Reguardless, I was scared and I said plenty of prayers. Even if I don't know where the week went,I am glad that it is over. Thank God It's Friday and we made it through another week! Have a safe and happy Valentine weekend!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Praying For You....

Today's post is going to be short and too the point. I have a doctor's appointment today that I have been trying to get to for the past three weeks. Due to ice storms and ice/snow covered roads I have had to cancel twice. We are supposed to get some pretty bad storms come trough while we are gone today. According to the weather man we can expect winds up to 65 MPH. When you combine super wet soggy ground with those kinds of winds it can usually add up to uprooted trees and power outages. I thought just in case we come home to no electricity, I would do this post before leaving.

As I was out and about this morning doing some blog visiting I came across two prayer request that I wanted to share with you. My first stop was to visit with Juli at "Barefoot Gypsy" . Juli's post provided me with a link to visit at "Ellouise' Story". It is here that I read of Ellouise' husband Jim dealing with bladder cancer that returned. Ellouise is asking that we remember her Jim in our prayers and to please leave a comment so she can print them out and paste them to post cards to brighten Jim's stay in the hospital following the surgery he will be going through.

My next prayer request concerns all of the people whose lives have been devastated and lost due to the tornado that cut a path through Oklahoma and Texas. I have a feeling that before it is over, more lives will be torn apart due to the destruction of this approaching storm that will be coming our way today.

I received a prayer request from my friend Jackie, concerning her friend Patty in Houston, Texas. Patty's son, Marty has been missing since December 29th. Someone else has his cell phone and they are unable to locate his car. Please keep them both in your prayers.

My dear friend Nanna, (Jo waves to Nanna) recently e-mailed a link to me that took me to a wonderful site called "Soldier's Angels". If you have ever thought, " I wish I could do more for our troops" then this is the site you need to visit. Thank you Nanna for sending this link to me.

With that said, I will leave you with my prayers that God will hold each and every one of you in the palm of His hand and keep you safe and out of harm's way.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In Memoriam ...... 63 Years Later

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. I received this as an e-mail that was being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests, the almost 55,000 homosexuals, 250,000 Roma/Sinti (Gypsies), and 1.5 million children who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated with the German and Russian Peoples looking the other way! Now, more than ever, with Iraq, Iran and others including a few Catholic priests, claiming the Holocaust to be 'a myth,' it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets, because there are others who would like to have history repeat itself.

Below is a Non Sequitur comic strip that you will need to click on to make it large enough to read. Although there is nothing funny about the comic strip or it's subject manner, it is a prime example of Wiley using artistic talent to get the message across.

A word from Jo: As a teenager in high school one of my favorite classes was history. I was fortunate enough to have had a history teacher that made the past come alive for her students. She spoke of historical events as if she had experienced them herself. She always left me with a thirst for more knowledge of what she had spoken of. This was especially true of World War II. She sparked an interest in my heart and mind to read anything and everything I could get my hands on concerning the Holocaust. I searched the pages of those books for something........ anything...... that would make sense of the cruel and sadistic deaths of so many innocent people. All I found in explanation was pictures of a world gone mad. In the midst of the madness was the madman Hitler. In all reality 63 years ago is not ancient history. When I was reading all of those books and looking at the pictures through tear filled eyes, those events that I was researching had only happened some 20 or so years prior. I can not for the life of me understand how anyone can deny that the holocaust happened. How do they explain the photos? I do understand one thing though........ I understand that we should never forget the Holocaust. I will leave you today with this quote from George Santayana: "Those who do not learn from history is doomed to repeat it."

I thank my friend Lynn in Orlando, Florida for the e-mail and my daughter Tersie for the exact words of the quote that I couldn't get straight in my mind.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Meaningful Monday

The Park Bench

The park bench was deserted as I sat down to read beneath the long, straggly branches of an old willow tree. Disillusioned by life with good reason to frown, for the world was intent on dragging me down.

And if that weren't enough to ruin my day, A young boy out of breath approached me, all tired from play.

He stood right before me with his head tilted down and said with great excitement, "Look what I found!"

In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight, with it's petals all worn, not enough rain, or to little light. Wanting him to take his dead flower and go off to play, I faked a small smile and then shifted away. But instead of retreating he sat next to my side and placed the flower to his nose and declared with overacted surprise, "It sure smells pretty and it's beautiful, too. That's why I picked it; here it's for you."

The weed before me was dying or dead. Not vibrant of colors, orange, yellow or red. But I knew I must take it, or he might never leave. So I reached for the flower, and replied, "Just what I need." But instead of him placing the flower in my hand, he held it mid-air without reason or plan. It was then that I noticed for the very first time that weed-toting boy could not see....... he was blind.

I heard my voice quiver, tears shone like the sun as I thanked him for picking the very best one. You're welcome, he smiled, and then ran off to play, unaware of the impact he'd had on my day. I sat there and wondered how he managed to see a self-pitying woman beneath an old willow tree. How did he know of my self-indulged plight?

Perhaps from his heart, he'd been blessed with true sight. Through the eyes of a blind child, at last I could see the problem was not with the world; the problem was me. And for all of those times I myself had been blind, I vowed to see the beauty in life, and appreciate every second that's mine.

And then I held that wilted flower up to my nose and breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose. And smiled as I watched that young boy, another weed in his hand about to change the life of an unsuspecting old man.

I don't know about anyone else, but some of the most valuable lessons I have learned in life, I have learned from a child. Have a blessed week.............

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Wash Day On The Mountain.

Here it is the first Saturday of February and as I sit in front of the computer and look out the window I see what could be a fabulous ice skating rink if our property was flat land. Even with the thermometer reading fifty degrees, this huge yard is a solid sheet of ice. It seems like months have passed since we had that ice storm that stretched across much of this country. We originally had an inch of ice on top of snow with more snow on top of the ice. The snow on top has melted and been replaced with more snow several times since the ice storm. The original ice still remains on our ground. I would guess that it is several inches thick by now though. What snow we have has a shine to it from the ice that covers it that would put most floor waxes to shame.

I am doing laundry this morning because I have put it off longer than I should have. It is now a "Must Do or Do Without" situation and so I am doing. To do without would be a really scarey sight. Since today is laundry day for me, I thought I would share with you "A Clothes Washing Recipe" that I found some years ago. I think I may have even posted it before. If I did it has been a long time ago. It deserves repeating though...........

Years ago an Arkansas grandmother gave the new bride the following recipe:

This is an exact copy as written and found in an old scrapbook - with spelling errors and all.


Build fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water.

Set tubs so smoke wont blow in eyes if wind is pert.

Shave one hole cake of lie soap in boilin water.

Sort things, make 3 piles

1 pile white,

1 pile colored,

1 pile work britches and rags.

To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then thin
down with boiling water.

Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, and boil, then rub colored, don't boil just wrench and starch.

Take things out of kettle with broom stick handle, then wrench, and starch.

Hang old rags on fence.

Spread tea towels on grass.

Pore wrench water in flower bed.

Scrub porch with hot soapy water.

Turn tubs upside down.

Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs.

Brew cup of tea, sit and rock a spell and count your blessings.

JD has a saying that goes something like this: "The good part of the Good Old Days is that they are gone!" I don't know about anyone else, but I for one am grateful for my modern day washer and dryer. Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's Not Nice To Fool Mother Nature....

Do you remember the old TV commercial with the line, "It's not nice to fool mother nature" ? I'm not sure, but I think it was a Parkay margarine commercial. As I watched the weather forecast before going to bed last night, I was thrilled to see that the over view for the next week showed a lot of days in the 50's. JD told me that it was 5 degrees out when he got up this morning. Now that is just plain cold and no where near springtime temperatures like 50. As I sit here at the computer I can look out the window and see our thermometer and it is pointing at 22 degrees. I see a beautiful snow covered yard that is about 3 inches of ice underneath the snow. We had about an inch of ice to start with, but we have probably added another 2 inches from snow melting and freezing again over the past week. There is enough snow on top of the ice to give your feet traction for walking and what a self esteem booster to think you are so light you can walk on top of the snow without sinking down into it. Like I said, it was exciting seeing all of those 50 degree temperatures across the weather man's forecast chart. We have only just entered the month of February and there is very little hope of the temperatures staying so warm. I am hoping that it won't warm up enough to fool the plants into thinking it is time to wake up and start blooming and then get hit with another ice storm. I have seen it before and I am thinking Mother Nature is teasing us and setting us up for a big let down. Which brings me back to that line from the retro TV commercial.......

"If it's not nice to fool Mother Nature, it isn't real nice to fool us either, Mother Nature!"

I think I mentioned that I received my last Synvisc injection in my knee Monday. That was my third and last one for this treatment. The injections are rather painless. The doctor injects a numbing agent first and then just unscrews the plunger and replaces it with the plunger containing the Synvisc gel and then injects that. I experienced more soreness with the third injection than with the first two. Also, the following day I experienced a sharp stabbing pain occasionally when I put any weight on that knee. It felt a lot like someone stabbing me in the knee with a knife. I didn't have this with the first two injections. As of yesterday though that pain was gone. I can already feel some improvement from the injections in that knee. According to what I have read about Synvisc I should experience improvement into the eighth week after the injections. It would be great if these injections were approved for the hips as well. If they were I would be feeling like a "spring chicken" (to borrow a phrase from my mom) and you couldn't hold me back.
Hope your day is filled with blessings, sunshine and love.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Happiness is a snow day from school and a brother to share it with :o)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Happy Groundhog Day

Photo by Alan Freed

From the Official site of Punxsutawney Phil........

Phil Says

"Six More Weeks of Winter!"

Phil's official forecast as read February 2nd, 2009 at sunrise at Gobbler's Knob:

Hear Ye Hear Ye
On Gobbler's Knob this glorious Groundhog Day, February 2nd, 2009
Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of all Prognosticators
Awoke to the call of President Bill Cooper
And greeted his handlers, Ben Hughes and John Griffiths
After casting a joyful eye towards thousands of his faithful followers,
Phil proclaimed that his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers were World Champions one more time
And a bright sky above me
Showed my shadow beside me.
So 6 more weeks of winter it will be.


With that said, I guess we should just dig in and brace ourselves for the 6 more weeks of winter that has been predicted. Now there are impostors all over that claim they have the inside track on the weather forecast. It is your choice of course which you will put your trust in. Meanwhile you can get into the swing of the Ground Hog celebrations by singing the old Appalachian song:

Ground Hog

Shoulder up your gun and whistle up your dog
Shoulder up your gun and whistle up your dog
We're off to the woods for to catch a ground hog
Ground hog, ground hog

Too many rocks and too many logs,... (x2)
Too much trouble to hunt ground hogs,...

He's in here boys, the hole's wore slick,... (x2)
C'mon, Sam with your forked stick,...

Stand back, boys, and let's be wise,... (x2)
I think I see his beady little eyes,...

Here comes Sam with a ten foot pole,... (x2)
Twist that whistle pig outta his hole,...

Work, boys, work just as hard as you can tear,... (x2)
The meat'll do to eat and the hide'll do to wear,...

Up come Sal with a snigger and a grin,... (x2)
Ground hog grease all over her chin,...

The children screamed and the children cried,... (x2)
"I love that ground hog cooked or fried!",...

You eat up the meat then you save the hide,... (x2)
Makes the best shoestring that ever was tied,...

Look at them fellers, they're about to fall,... (x2)
Eatin' till their britches won't button at all,...

Little piece of cornbread laying on the shelf,... (x2)
If you want any more you can sing it yourself,...

If the song isn't enough to get your toes to tapping then you might want to try a Groundhog recipe:

Woodchuck Pie

1 woodchuck (groundhog)
3 medium carrots
3 potatoes
1/4 cup of butter or margarine
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons of flour
pie crust dough

Quarter the woodchuck and place the pieces in a large pot with enough cold water to cover the meat. Boil it for 10 minutes, then discard the water, refill the pan, and bring the liquid to a boil again. Lower the heat and let the contents simmer for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Add the carrots and potatoes and continue cooking the stew for about another 30 minutes ... until the meat is tender and separates easily from the bone. By this time, you should be able to pierce the vegetables readily with a fork.

Now, strain the liquid and reserve 2 cups. The remaining pot liquor can be saved for soup stock, or discarded.

Next, remove the cooked meat from the bones and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Melt the butter or margarine in a large, heavy skillet, add the diced onion, and cook it for 5 minutes. Then add the flour and stir the mixture until it bubbles ... put in the reserved liquid and blend the brew some more until it thickens . . . and, when that happens, combine the vegetables and meat, mixing the whole concoction thoroughly.

Finally, butter a large casserole and pour in the meat-and-vegetable mixture. Lay pie crust dough over the top of the filling, brush the pastry with milk, and place the container in a preheated 400 degrees F oven for about 30 minutes, or until the crust has turned golden brown.

~Or you could just go back to bed and hibernate a little longer with the covers pulled up to your chin. Personally, that sounds like a good idea to me, but I have an appointment this aftenoon to get my 3rd and final Synvisc injection in my knee. I guess I will have to save the hibernating for later.

"Happy Groundhog Day"

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Here I Am !!...(Says Jo While Jumping and Waving)

I am sending great big smooches out to my Tersie for doing a post while I was away. Thank you Sweetheart, you did a great job and I really liked that you added the pictures of the snow and my Grand puppy, Lucy.

I have to say that there were times when I doubted we would ever have electricity again, as well as Internet service. We decided that we would upgrade our Internet service from home to professional so we could get extra bandwidth. We had been operating on 200 MB per day and on today's Internet that isn't a lot and of course when we hit that quota we were punished by not having service for 24 hours. For $10.00 more a month we were able to increase that limit to 350 MB per day. This was on Tuesday that I called to upgrade. This upgrade process required re-registering and setting up the system again. The system just wasn't letting us re-register. Most of the day Tuesday I was on the phone and went through several tech support people, all of which did not speak English well enough for me to understand their instructions with out asking them to repeat themselves at least three or four times. The last tech guy I talked to was named Omar and spoke English better than me. He asked about the weather, of course by then it had started to snow.... He checked his resources and told me that it was snowing in Germantown, Maryland. With that bit of knowledge, he then explained that when I want to get online my computer sends a signal to the satellite and it bounces back to the server at Germantown, Maryland, in turn Germantown, Maryland returns a signal that bounces off of the satellite to me. If just one of us is having bad weather there usually is no problem, but if we are both having bad weather I might as well forget about it.... I won't be getting online. He then suggested that I wait until one of us is having good weather and call back.

Well that wasn't going to happen any time soon. By Wednesday we had about 4 inches of snow on top of the white fluff we had accumulated on Sunday. Then came about an inch of sleet and freezing rain. That of course was followed closely with another 4 inches of snow. After two flickers of the light bulb, we found ourselves with no electric. This stretched out for three days and at times I felt as if we would never again have electricity in this house. I waited 24 hours before I called to see if they had an estimate for how long we would be without electric service. I was told by a pleasant voice that it should be back on by 6 PM that evening. I waited until 8 PM and called back for a status update and was told by a fairly hateful voice at the other end of the conversation that there was no estimate on when service would be restored. There was no need for his attitude and there was need for giving me false information earlier when I called. Between those two AEP employees they trampled all over my good nature and left me feeling as if my last nerve was going to spring at any moment.

In a conversation with Tersie at some point during this experience, we talked about how beautiful this snow and ice was, yet it had such an adverse affect on so many people. I am sure that lives have been lost during this storm and I heard that there are places that won't have their service restored before the middle of the month. JD and I were far more fortunate than most people. We did have two wood stoves in the house that kept us warm, as well as served as cooking surfaces to fix coffee and meals. We had lots of candles and kerosene lamps for night so we didn't have to sit around in the dark. We also had the well to draw water from for flushing the toilet and washing dishes. Our drinking and cooking water comes from the spring and we had a good supply of that.

I looked at this whole experience as a message that we need to slow down and live simply so that we will see the beauty in the world around us. It was like a winter wonderland. Even though the tops of many trees was bent over and so many snapped and broke from the weight of the ice and snow, when the light of the sun reflected off of the tree limbs it was like they were all covered with glitter. An awesome sight to experience. The photos captured some of that sparkle, but the lens of the camera just doesn't do it justice.

While we were sitting here without the conveniences that we have come to depend so heavily on, I finished reading a Gladys Taber book and finished crocheting a poncho that I had been working on for T~Bear. I fed the birds and enjoyed watching them at the feeder. I even noticed a couple of robins that had decided to try and stick out the winter here instead of flying south. During the months when they are usually here I have never seen them eating anything but worms and bugs. Now that they find themselves with their usual cuisine not available to them, they have been eating the seeds that fall to the ground from the feeder.

We had a total of three days with no electricity. Friday afternoon we decided we would make the trip to town and shower at Chris and Melody's. The buzzards were starting to circle overhead when we went outside. We got to visit with the boys for a little while, pay a couple of those first of the month bills, and get a few more supplies to see us through more long days of roughing it. After dinner we had settled in for a quiet evening of listening to the wood crackle as it burned in the wood stoves and watching the flames dance around on the logs. I had laid down on the couch and turned the portable radio on to try and catch a news broadcast to learn what was going on in the world. All of a sudden I heard these strange noises and saw strange sites all around me. Sounds and noises that I was sure I would never experience again. Lights and the ceiling fan had popped on and all of a sudden there was that gurgle~hum~hum sound from the refrigerator. Sounds from the blower on the wood stove jumping into action. The neighbor's security lights came on causing the ice on the trees and the snow on the ground to come alive again with all of the beautiful glistening and sparkle that only God's Hand could create.

As for the computer......... Another long story made short. Saturday was an exhausting day of dealing with one Tech guy after another until shortly after supper when I gave it one last try for the day and we had a huge breakthrough and the online experience once more became a part of our lives. At one point one techy guy told me that he thought we needed to have a technician come to the house for the sum of $125. JD made one more trip to the dish and deiced it some more and we were making headway at last. I am thinking the next time we want to upgrade our service, I will have one of our computer savvy grandchildren come and take care of it for us. It is way too much stress on me.

It is great to be back and thank you all for the sweet comments that you left while we were gone. I hope you enjoyed Tersie's post, she has quite a gift with words. Have a blessed new week and please keep those that are still without electric in your prayers.