Finding Life in Old Pictures

Benny and Brenda across the street from Jim and Lee Caldwell's house.

The last couple of nights I’ve been going through old pictures, less-old pictures, and newer pictures picking out just the right ones for cookbooks I started a year or so ago for my siblings.  In doing that, I can’t help but reminisce, and this photo makes me think about Lee, Mom’s good friend for many, many years. 

Lee lived across the street from us when we were small, she and Jim, her husband, a tall, thin man who loved children.  Lee loves to tell stories about the neighborhood children coming to the house and asking Lee if “Jim could come out and play.”  She would look to him to see if it was a nod or a head shake and respond accordingly.  “Well, for a little while,” or “No, he can’t come out right now.”  The latter response would prompt a frown and the child relating the story to the parent with the addendum that “Lee won’t let Jim come out and play.”  She gets a kick out of telling this story and laughs gleefully.

She also gets a kick out of telling the story about my brother and I coming over to “help” Jim work in the yard.  Benny was six; I was four.  We, as the story goes, (I can’t remember it) were helping with the hard labor of picking up sticks out of the yard.  When it was all said and done, Jim says, “Well, I think that deserves an ice cream cone, don’t you?”  That was back in the day when the town boasted a Dairy Dream, two hardware stores, a dry cleaner, a Five and Dime, three or four clothing stores, a drug store (where we got the most delicious cherry cokes at the counter), a newspaper, at least one car dealership, multiple filling stations, and multiple grocery stores.  Whew!  I know I’m leaving out a bunch of things.  Oh, yeah!  A hospital, a dentist, a bank, the post office; of course, the court house.  And can’t forget the taverns.  There were as many of those as there were churches.  In other words, a real town, a town full of life, a town where people bought and sold from each other, did their living and made their living in the town they lived in. 

But back to that delicious ice cream cone.  It must have been delicious because the next day, Lee says, here comes Benny knocking on the door.  When Jim comes to the door, Benny looks at him and says, “Do you think we better pick up more sticks today?”  And the good man that Jim was, said, “No, I don’t believe we need to today.  But how about we go get an ice cream cone?”

I love that story.  And I love all those good people from my childhood that seem to be disappearing right before my eyes. 

Ms. Lee still lives in the little house you see in the picture, where she has lived for decades.  It looks a little different now with a carport added, a few changes here, a few there.  Go by in the summer and she will be sitting in her swing, ready to regale you with wonderful stories of her youth (The Birger Gang!) or wonderful stories from your youth.

The Apron (via The Life of a Self-Professed Rocket Surgeon)

Found this blog in my foraging escapade and have contacted Angel to see about reblogging it. I have discovered that her father passed away just in the last couple of days, so know that she has been overwhelmed, and understand why no response. The reblog option lets me post it to my site, and I do so with the request for prayer for this lovely lady in a time of heartache and distress.

When I was a little girl I loved to wear an apron.  I remember the feeling of tying an old apron around my waist.  The ties were so long they wrapped back around in front and tied in a bow.  I would ask my mom if I could clean.  Of course she whole-heartedly agreed to that proposition.  I would load my large apron pockets with necessary cleaning supplies, and my cleaning would last about 8 minutes.  Or less.  There was a novelty in wearing the ap … Read More

via The Life of a Self-Professed Rocket Surgeon

Coughing and Sneezing… Sneezing and Coughing

Oh, man, I have a terrible cold.  I’m sick and in need of chicken soup, a nice hot bowl of home-made chicken noodle soup.  That sounds so good.  And to be served in bed (because, after all, I still do not have a dining table and chairs).  My eyes are all itchy, and my head hurts from my neck up.  And now, tonight, I’ve started this croupy cough.  Did I mention I’m sick and don’t feel a bit good?

milk tomato soup

When I was small, my mom would make milk-tomato soup.  It sounds pretty nasty now, but that was the best soup ever on those days you had to lay on the couch you were so sick; you couldn’t even get up and play.  I have never been able to make it like Mom, and am disappointed that I let her move to Heaven without getting that recipe down.  She always made it with her home-canned tomatoes… and… milk, I guess. 

I can still remember her rocking me and wiping my forehead with a damp cloth.  It was just so warm and cozy to be in the dark living room looking in at the lighted kitchen as Mom went about making supper in the winter evening.  Mmmm.  Milk-tomato soup with crackers.

I need my Mommy.

♪♪♪ Movin’ On Up… To The Bright Side ♪♪♪

There used to be a sitcom on television called The Jeffersons. 

The Jeffersons

 Their theme song went “movin’ on up, to the East side” because they were coming up in the world to a better financial position.  I love to take little diddies and put a word or two of my own in there to make it mine.  This is one of them.

My movin’ up has nothing to do with being well off monetarily and everything to do with being well off mentally.  It’s been a struggle to move up now for about half my life:  a long, long time.  First was a bad marriage and divorce to overcome while coping with a child not yet diagnosed with schizophrenia, being bewildered at every turn with every psychiatrist from the one who specialized in children to the one that worked for the local health department, and all the others in between; the death of another child’s best friend and the subsequent battle with drug addiction; depression and anxiety problems; the death of my second husband and years of mourning what could have been, what could have been done differently.  Pain… and more pain. 

The only reason I mention those things at all is to tell you about my good, dear friends without whom I could not and cannot live.  They are the reason I am movin’ on up.  They are the rocks that anchor my distraught psyche, the rocks upon which God has set me, the pavilion wherein He has hidden me.  I so totally love them all. 

praying friend

They have prayed my son alive because I am as certain as I sit here that he would have died without their shawl of prayer wrapped around him. 


 They have wrapped us in their arms as well with hugs that left us giddy with delight and comfort. (You  know who you are, Howard.)  They have come to me in the night, flashlight in hand, when I feared I had run over my little cat, Bo, to look for him, all three kids:  Joseph, Tyler, Emily, and Mom Cheryl.

Dolores (a/k/a Grandma to Kate) gets out in the cold to fetch me a gallon of milk so I don’t have to get the grandgirls out; brings me blog-warming gifts (picture coming soon); and teaches me to be kind and loving and accepting of all people.  Terah, who loves me with agape love that fills my soul with lightness, who makes a way to bring me back from the precipice of darkness, who finds my Eagle’s Nest that I might hide under the shadow of His wing (Psalm 17:8).  Jeri Lyn, who takes my burdens into herself to ease my morbid obsessions, that I might not worry about the evil that could befall my little ones.  Joy, who stood vigil at my husband’s side as he lay dying.  Alberta, who always has my back, always worries about me, always seeing about me.  These are only a few; God gave me many.

The study group who saw me through that first year of extreme sadness; the group God brought together just for me.  Ah, how He loves me.  This group who are now my sisters, these women whom I will forever have a bond.  How I love them. 

my sisters

Yes, I am movin’ on up, to the bright side.  And I say Thank You, Lord.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell.  Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.  One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.  For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.  And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord …  Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”  Psalm 27

My Funky Fabulous Friends

Funky Three without Me (add me to the mix and it's Funky Four)

If you’ve been reading my blog, you will have been introduced to the Funky Four, the pinochle-playing partners, best friends, a/k/a Charlie and the Angels.  The foursome started several years ago, reuniting from a long-time-but-got-too-busy-with-life friendship and cousin kin. 

Babe (nickname for baby of the family or maybe stud muffin) is Charlie; Kay, his blonde-haired (okay, maybe white by now) wife, and Sandy (a/k/a Carmella Celeste) with the red hair (fairly certain it’s as true red nowadays as my Loreal brown), and I, the bottled brunette, make up the Angels.  We’ve all lost someone we loved, survived hardships, and have grandchildren we adore.  There are plenty more things we have in common too: dancing; playing cards; looking for tribute memorials of old singers;

village people

 discussing, deciding upon, and then dressing up in Halloween costumes;

The big 5-0

throwing awesome getting-old parties; and giving wacky or wild or inane gifts for every conceivable occasion.

And my blog was just such an occasion. The four of us got together to play cards at my house, out in the garage since I have no furniture in my house yet (floor refinishing project). It worked out great, though. There’s an extra dining table and chairs out there, a warm morning stove, and plenty of light and room (well, the vehicle had to be ousted to the driveway first). So we got our pizza, got our cards, got our snacks, coffee, tea, and Coke.  We were ready to deal ’em out.

getting ready to play

But first, my funky fabulous friends had brought me a blog-warming gift all wrapped up in Veggie Tales stickers paper (perfect paper to symbolize my cooking adventure when I get the house back to order).  When I opened the box, it was filled with the neatest placemats and matching cloth napkins to place my white dishes with their delectable delights on them and take the photo shots.  I’m so excited!! 

my neat gift from my neat friends!!

Next was the movie Julie & Julia!  (I will refer you back to “Just the Beginning” blog.)  And to top off this so perfect gift was a personalized tote (embroidered by Laurie, the very talented daughter-in-law of Babe and Kay) (she takes awesome pictures, too)(  It even has a cat on it for Boaz; maybe I’ll start carrying him to the card games in it.  Although, I think it’s meant to pack food to and fro since I will be cooking some of my recipes at their house.

my personalized tote!

We were all set to begin the games.  This year we have decided to keep track of who wins the most money (I’m gonna be rich!!) at the end of the year, so for Christmas, I gave Sandy, the scorekeeper, a scorebook.

our scorekeeper and scorebook

At the end of every evening of playing, she keeps track of who wins and who loses and how much we won or lost.  But before she can do that, we have to pick our partners (refer you back to January 22 blog, Pinochle) by drawing numbers and then pick our names.  We do this by using our combined initials, all or some.  And those names can get rather wicked, let me tell you.  Sometimes just the names almost scare me into submission.  (But I want to win the BIG money at the end of the year.)  We play three games, (sometimes more) and keep track of those in a notebook. 

yearly and per-game books

big winner book

These Funky Fabulous Friends of mine have given me too many hours to count of laughing till I couldn’t laugh anymore, but did, accepting me for who I am (even I can’t do that), and creating adventures out of nothing more than a deck of cards.

Oh Happy Day!! Oh Happy Day!!!

doing the happy dance

This has been a great day!!!  The internet customer service dude finally took the time to actually fix my internet connection.  (I can’t discuss it anymore than that, or I will forget I had a great day!)  I took pics of my neat gift from my neat friends (Funky Three without Me) (will finish that story tomorrow);

the wrapping paper (I love Veggie Tales)

I got my floor all sanded and polished and the furniture back in the house; AND (drumroll please) I got my baby grand delivered!!  YES!  What a great day.  And to top it off, I went to my Matilda and the Hogbottom Girls book club meeting,  pigged out on great food, and discussed the book Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin.

Matilda and the Hogbottom Girls

So now I have to sing the song of joy and happiness as they did in the movie “Sister Act” with Whoopie Goldberg.                                      

the baby grand!

“Oh happy day, oh happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away.  He taught me how to fight and pray. And live rejoicing every day.  Oh happy day.  I’m talking ’bout the happy days.  Oh happy day.”

♪♪ Where Have All the Services Gone? ♪♪

My daughter’s computer is becoming acquainted with me, and my patience level is running out.  I admit it’s not as long as it used to be. 

fired up!

The flame burns high quicker than before.  Seems there’s a simmering coal ready to ignite at the least breath of air to fan it imbedded deep in my innermost being.  Where did that come from? 

Beats the heck out of me.  I just know it’s there.  And these people from Frontier are taking big bellows and blowing air on that coal to the point that it’s hot under my collar, really hot.  So to spite them, I called Time Warner to see about getting my service changed. First of all, I couldn’t hear a word she was saying.  It sounded as though she had her hand over the mouthpiece.  When I said for the fourth time I couldn’t hear her at all, could she or he (couldn’t even tell what it was) call me back, all of a sudden it was very clear.  “Is this better?”  grrrrr.  Blankety-blank yes, that’s better.  (don’t worry; just me talking to me at that point.)  My I’ll-show-Frontier attitude dissolved when she said it would be 7 to 14 days for them to come and see if my area was serviceable.  SHUT UP!!!  Then we could talk packages and prices.

So what happened to companies who valued your business and appreciated your loyalty?  Where have all the quality services gone?  Where has any service at all gone? 

My conclusion:  Big companies do not give a rat’s petunia about me or anybody else.  

Mo' money! Mo' money!

They do not care that I have only started my blog and need feedback (of which, by the way, I need more, greedy pig that I am… or insecure blogger).  They do not care that my friends and I get together via facebook and email.  They do not care that I get my news, my weather, my social calendar, or travel my information highway all while sitting in front of my best friend’s little white bright face covered in words and pictures and things I still don’t understand how to use.  They do not care that I need to pay my bills in a timely manner (the last day to pay without a late fee) or that I need to shop for a new dining table and chairs (alas, the story of the splitting table/chairs). 

If Pete Seeger were writing songs now, it would be about services, not flowers.


Computer Problems!!!

Well, my stinking server has screwed up my service once again.  I know I am being very nasty and hateful, but it is driving me crazy.  Verizon became Frontier… and honestly, ever since then I’ve had phone and computer problems.  Their tech people are extremely nice and very well versed on handling irate customers I would imagine.  After waiting for an hour (at least) to finally talk to a tech guy, I was ready to bite the head off of whoever was sitting at the other end of the phone.  Better judgment took control, and instead I sweetly asked him if he had many irate customers today.  He said, yes, that he had been cussed out several times today.  Poor guy. I was nice.

So I am sitting at my daughter’s house, in front of her computer, (a complete stranger) and sending out this little note to tell you to keep checking in for the computer fix and new pics and posts.  They said no later than Monday.  I’m thinking come Monday I will be calling around for a new server!

Till then, my friends, have a great weekend.

A Quinkle Lift Isn’t The Answer

Sometimes we just can’t explain what it is that makes us do the things we do.


For instance, why have I always loved to read, even encyclopedias? And what makes me procrastinate when I hate doing it? From where does this chameleonism of mine come or my inability to make a decision? Why have I saved magazine recipes for years… and years… and years?

As I look around at family and friends, I wonder about their quinkles as well.  You know, those quirky things that make wrinkles in your personality that you would otherwise not have if it weren’t for the quirks, those things that keep you from being the terrific person you truly are. If only we could have a quinkle lift, then our lives would be made right and whole, and joy and tranquility would abound. A little smoothing out of those deep quinkles that affect our day-to-day progress, such as getting to work on time.

personality colors

But then… what about all that color in our personalities?

Those quinkles are what makes a person vivid, gives depth to our intrinsic differences, stretches our beliefs and endurance capacities.

In my family alone we have a cat quinkle, a fat quinkle, a run-around-in-circles quinkle; a regret quinkle, a forget quinkle, and a can-I-ever-get-it-right quinkle; a drama quinkle, a dilemna quinkle, and a let’s-get-‘er-done-right-now quinkle. As I think on it, we are so quinkled!

drama quinkle

So what kind of quinkles do you and your family have?

There’s a House in My Hallway

cardboard house

Yesterday, as I was getting dressed in the bathroom, I looked over toward the hallway door, and there sat a house in my hallway!

For two weeks now I’ve been waiting to get the floor in my living room finished.  The corner spot is all filled in with the new wood, ready to be sanded and polished to perfection with the rest of the wood flooring in that room.

So in the meantime my furnitureless, bare room has been turned into a big play area.  Kohl’s had this really neat cardboard house on sale after Christmas (a find on one of my many shopping expeditions with my sister) ($12) so I set it up in the garage, but moved it to the living room/temporary play room when it got super cold, and since there is nothing in that room.  The girls love it!!  And, well, so do I.

After much playing house in it, setting up tables and chairs, arranging the flowers, even getting the little “car” in there,

looking through the window

the house has turned into a camper, a mobile home, a mobile house on wheels slick floor.  My floors are waxed (until the refinishing) (yippee! no more waxing!) so the house slides really well.  Being a cardboard house, it’s light weight and rather fragile, especially with Ava, the bull in a china shop, so occasionally I have to do a little carpentry work and duct tape a few pieces torn off or clip back together the pieces coming apart.

Kate opening the door to visitors

All said and done, it’s been worth every penny of the $12 I spent on it.