Saturday, July 14, 2012

With my 50th high school class reunion and the big 3 day hometown 4th of July parade and celebration (picture above) behind me, I finally have time to put some thoughts in writing again.  As usual, a casual post on facebook about fences and neighbors triggered a chain of memories of growing up on a farm in Iowa in the 40's and 50's.

Springtime was always welcome after what seemed to be endless hard winters.  Are they much milder now, or is it just my perception?  Anyway, the spring plowing done, Mom went at the gardening big time, planting enough of everything to put up canned goods for a year.  I've always enjoyed planting things in the warm spring weather, the weeding and watering in the hot summer sun not so much.  But weren't those fresh veggies just the best thing ever?  Sweet corn dripping with real butter, and the raw green sweet peas just out of the shell were yummy!  Oh, everything was m-m-m good!  And we worked hard, ate big and stayed slim!

Summertime has always been my favorite season even with the increased work on the farm.  The best memories are those of the co-op type togetherness of all the neighbors and relatives.  The men joined together forming a threshing crew going from farm to farm to harvest the oats.  With that it became necessary for the women to prepare enormous amounts of food.  Without modern conveniences or a large house, we set up saw horse tables and a wash up area for the men outdoors.  The noon meal always included fried chicken, ham, roast beef, mashed potatoes, potato salad, lettuce salad, vegetables, bread, pies and other desserts.  I seem to recall beer being offered too before the meal, then coffee and cool aide with the dinner.  Yes, it was called dinner and the evening meals were called supper.  In between were the "lunches" or maybe called "coffee" - not coffee breaks.   

The field work and cooking always started very early in the morning, so in addition to the huge noon meal, a "lunch" was prepared consisting of sandwiches of meat, cheese, egg or tuna salad, etc. in large quantities along with homemade cookies, cakes, pastries and fruit, coffee, cool aide and water, all carried to the men in the field in big baskets and buckets in mid morning and again in mid afternoon.

Then I remember chicken butchering time.  Ugh!  The night before we would round up the pullets, (young chickens raised from early spring babies) usually at least 3  dozen or more, and pen them up separate from the laying hens.  (Pullets made the best fryers.  For chicken soup or other cooked chicken Mom would use an older hen.)  Early the next morning Grandma and the aunts would come to help (and receive a few processed chickens in return). Mom and the aunts stepped on the heads and used butcher knives, but grandma just wrung the necks then cut off the heads with a hatchet.  What a sight to see a dozen headless chickens at a time flopping around the yard, blood spraying everywhere!  When they stopped flopping they were dipped in boiling water and the feathers plucked.  This is where the children were put to work plucking.  Then the ladies spent the rest of the afternoon cutting up and packaging the chickens.  Having no electricity in the earlier years meant taking them to town to a rented meat locker at the butcher shop, where they also stored our homegrown beef and pork.  By the mid 1950's we were really "upscale" with electricity from the REA,our own freezer, electric lights and even running water in the kitchen sink!  Somewhere in there we even got natural gas from the new pipeline that was laid.

We may have been cash poor, but with Mom's egg money for staples and all the rest homegrown, we never went hungry!  Even a new skirt made from a calico feed sack made us feel rich.  Well, I could go on, but the tales of growing up on a sharecropping farm in that era are about endless.  So I'll save some more for later.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

On Becoming An Old Fogey

OK I admit it.  I'm guilty.  Just when I crossed over I can't say, but I've become one of those.  You know, the ones whos say, "Why back in my day...".  Caught myself thinking that way a lot lately and even saying it once or twice.

I recall disliking old fogeyisms while growing up.  If we complained about something, we'd get that, "Why when I was a kid I had to walk two miles to and from school" or "When I was your age... da da da da..."  I'd groan (inwardly of course), and think here we go again, shut my mouth.

(Nowadays kids don't bother to hide those feelings or complaints. - Oops, just regressed into fogeyism again.)  

old fogey = someone who has old-fashioned ideas, especially someone who is old.  People who are old-fashioned or do not like change: anorak, bogan, bore, conservative, diehard, dinosaur, drip, drongo, dweeb, fogey...   :O(  oh dear!

Old Fogeyisms:
back in my day
when I was your age
when I lived at home
when I was a kid
when I went to school
new fangled
good old days
we never had
(and so on...)

This awful revelation about myself came as I was thinking of all the Mom's across the country frantically preparing for junior or young misses' high school graduation.  Before I retired I would hear fellow workers talk of all the heavy house cleaning, even some major home renovations, food preparation or even catering and other highly expensive party plans.  I would think to myself, "Back when I graduated, my parents didn't go to all that trouble and expense!  How wastefully extravagant!"  I guess these were my first signs of passage into old fogeyhood.

Now when I had those thoughts again, as graduation time approaches, my "old days" suddenly came back to me bit more realistically.  I DO recall our frantic housecleaning, baking and party planning for my high school graduation.  The budget may have been a bit more restrained out of necessity, but the intensity and the importance of the event were the same.  And that's a good thing.  High School Graduation is a very significant event.  It's usually the end of life at home as it was and passage into adulthood.  It should be honored and celebrated.  Also, perhaps the house did need major cleaning and renovation. (I should be so motivated!)  So I'm dumping my old fogey critical thoughts about this subject.  None of my business anyway!

This all makes me wonder how many other "good (or bad) old days" memories I've falsified.  Maybe a lot of things haven't changed as much as I thought.  Lesson learned, don't be critical based on distant (possibly clouded) memories.  Even if something isn't like it used to be, it just might be better.

But I still say folks nowadays spend way too much on weddings!  :O)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Ever get on a winding endless trail of trivia on the net? I can blow a huge whole in a day doing that sometimes. This morning I started browsing through page after page of interesting lacy items on Etsy with the thought of gathering ideas for using and selling my crocheted lace. That led to googling for free patterns, which is always an addictive behavior for me, and eats away the hours. (Kinda recall doing that yesterday too.)

Then I finally broke away to go clean another flower bed, but was soon back to check the latest news (you know, just in case some world shaking event occurred while I was away from my pc for a whole hour)! I read an article with the word 'eponymous' in it, so of course I had to look that up. Then that opened up another batch of fun things to do.

BTW, just so you know, eponymous means giving one's name to a tribe, place, etc., example: Romulus, the eponymous founder of Rome. And then I found another good one! Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia = fear of long words. (Another obscure word that means the same is sesquipedalophobia)

So now you cognize that! Aren't you glad you got your trivia fix for the day without hours and hours on your pc? :O) One of these days my mind is going to wander so far off course it won't find it's way back. But it sure is fun traveling in cyberland. Just wish someone would scurryfunge my house while I'm away! (hehe - now you can look that up)

Monday, April 9, 2012

To Work Or Not To Work

I really love being retired, but once in a while I have a passing thought that I could have my nursing license re-instated and get a part time job. (That thought evaporates at the speed of light.)

I found the following while surfing the net for my daily humor fix. With a little editing it kind of expresses the way I would think about applying for a job.

NAME: Roberta Roddy [also known as Ma].
DESIRED POSITION: Company's Chief Executive or Managing Director. But seriously, whatever's available. If I was in a position to be picky, I wouldn't be applying in the first place - would I?
DESIRED SALARY: $295,000 a year plus share options and a fully paid 30 day per year vacation package. If that's not possible, make an offer and we can haggle.
LAST POSITION HELD: Target for middle management hostility.
PREVIOUS SALARY: A lot less than I'm worth.
MOST NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT: My incredible collection of stolen pens and post-it notes.
REASON FOR LEAVING: It was a crap job.
PREFERRED HOURS: 1:30-3:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL SKILLS?: Yes, but they're better suited to a resort type or retail environment.
MAY WE CONTACT YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYER?: If I had one, would I be here?
DO YOU HAVE A CAR?: I think the more appropriate question here would be 'Do you have a car that runs?'
HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY SPECIAL AWARDS OR RECOGNITION?: I may already be a winner of the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, so they tell me.
DO YOU SMOKE?: Only if set on fire.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING IN FIVE YEARS?: Living in the Bahamas with a fabulously wealthy drop dead handsome billionaire who thinks I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread. Actually, I'd like to be doing that now.
NEAREST RELATIVE: ....11 miles

(borrowed and edited from: )

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cooking Healthy Can Be Fun

I love avoiding house cleaning and find that cooking helps me do that almost guilt free.
After all I do have to learn to eat healthier. Right? So to sum up the guidelines are:

1. Diabetes Type 2 - no sugar
2. Obesity - cut carbs and calories
3. Hypercholesterolemia - cut fats
4. Hypertension and heart disease - cut salt
...and so it goes. What is a person to eat?

Well, I spent a lovely day reading recipes, shopping for ingredients and cooking what I consider a healthy and tasty soup, combining ideas from other recipes and just thinking up some of my own additions. You know - one of those looking through the spice cabinet kind of experiments. I've developed a love of herbs, especially those used in Italian cooking. Here's the recipe I came up with.

Italian Vegetable Beef Soup
Roberta Roddy

1 1/2 lb. lean beef cut in half inch cubes
1 whole chopped onion
2 - 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 cups water
1 qt box plus 1 can beef stock (0 fat) (or 3 cans)
1 can chicken stock (0 fat)
1 tsp lite salt
2 bay leaves
1 tbs parsley flakes
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp Italian herb seasoning
pepper to taste
5 -6 stalks diced celery
1 cup sliced or diced carrots
1/4 to 1/3 head of cabbage cut/chopped
1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes Italian style
1 6 oz can tomato paste

Heat olive oil in large soup pot or Dutch oven. Sautee onion and beef.
When beef is pale brown, add water, beef stock and chicken stock.
Add seasonings and continue cooking while preparing vegetables.
Add all vegetables and cook covered at med. heat at least 1 -2 hours.

Nutrition Facts:
12 to 13 ~ 1.5 cup Servings
Amount Per Serving:
Calories 156.1
Total Fat 6.0 g
Saturated Fat 1.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.4 g
Cholesterol 33.0 mg
Sodium 826.7 mg
Potassium 587.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 8.1 g
Dietary Fiber 2.8 g
Sugars 4.2 g
Protein 15.9 g

It turned out very good in my and my son's opinions, and works with my nutritional needs. I fully expect it will be even tastier tomorrow, as soups usually are with all the seasonings more evenly blended.

Yep, I can live with this. (Too heavy on the sodium, but will look for Na free broth next time.) Looking forward to experimenting with more healthy cooking. I have one rule though, in addition to the restrictions, the food has to taste good!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Change & Laughs

Well, well, at least I didn't have to fight the crowds to get to my blog site! I do believe I've become invisible again. At least it's helped me make a decision to quit posting much here. From now on I'll continue to record my junk like music, art, etc. and a few stray comments here when I feel like it, but keep the personal thoughts in an offline private journal. Might even have to re-name the blog to match the change in content.

I'm not afraid of privacy issues. I have nothing hidden or secret in my life that I'm afraid to share. I don't believe there's any kind of privacy in cyberspace anyway, so it's a waste of time to worry about security. But I feel stupid hanging my thoughts and such out here which are apparently of no interest to hardly anyone else.

So for a transition to the new direction here's a joke that I enjoyed this week...

A elderly lady driving a car became lost in a snowstorm. She didn't panic however, because she remembered she had once heard. "If you ever get stuck in a snowstorm, just wait for a snow plow to come by and follow it.

Sure enough, pretty soon a snow plow came by, and she started to follow it. She followed the plow for about forty-five minutes.

Finally the driver of the truck got out and asked her what she was doing.

She explained that she had heard if she ever got stuck in a snow storm, to follow a plow.

The driver nodded and said, "Well, I'm done with the Wal-Mart parking lot, do you want to follow me over to K-Mart now?"

Have a nice day!

Friday, February 3, 2012

What's Next?

Yesterday as I was driving to pick up Mom at the care center and take her to her beauty shop appointment, my usual begrudging attitude about having to do this made me ashamed. I made myself think along other lines. I love Mom and I'm certainly glad to still have her in my life even with her extra needs. But what about me? Back to selfish again. I'm sometimes tempted to sell all and move far away to some tropical utopia. (Isn't everyone?)

In looking back I have noticed a pattern in my life. (Wouldn't it be nice to have a life map and compass first?) About every decade, more or less, I have made a major change, some sort of thrilling like a beginner diving off a high board. The one that came to mind yesterday was the 1987 move. I had a respectable good paying job in 1986 and an almost paid off mortgage on my house, but it felt as if my head was bumping the ceiling. There was no way to expand my life in any direction. Plus I simply had an itch to move on, maybe menopausal madness?

So in 1986 I decided to sell my house and move to Tennessee, partly to be close to a guy with whom had a long distance relationship. I'd adopted my foster son who was now about 9 years old and much adored by my Mom and step-dad. We all lived in the same small town, and I knew they would be overwhelmingly opposed to my plan to move at least 2 states away. So one weekend when they were on an out of state trip, I listed my house with a realtor and accepted an immediate offer. Done deal - almost. This was in the fall, and it actually got a lot more complicated involving a rental house and finally a move to Tennessee in the spring of 1987. (Would have been so much more romantic just to hop on the interstate, drive off and live happily ever after...)

So anyway, I bought a house in TN, married my guy the following December, moved in with him, then moved back to my house in about March. So much for happily ever after - just couldn't make things work in the same house. Tried that again in 1989, but again it didn't work. So I bought a house in North Carolina, lived and worked there until 1997. I finalized a divorce, moved back to the town where my Mom still lived, and have been here since then.

I've often thought about how badly I messed up those years, but yesterday as I question the meaning behind all this, I realize that the trapped feeling I have now would be a thousand times worse if I had never had that adventure. If I had never moved away, I would have stayed with the same job without any advancement, the same house, the same neighborhood, etc. And I would likely have always pined for adventure growing more and more frustrated each year.

I guess the lesson is, even if life seems to be messed up, meaninless or wasted, there is always some good angle to it. Times of reflection often reveal gems of insight. Even when life seems stale and meaningless, I really need to appreciate and enjoy the now, because it does have meaning and value. If I can't quite see the broad picture clearly in this moment, I'll likely be able to see it later. I know I am where I'm supposed to be today, and my sense of purpose is recharged.

Wonder what it would be like to live in Hawaii?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Just Mulling (AKA wandering mind)

Just sitting here mulling over something. Hmm, mulling. Just what does that mean really? Mull, mulling, to mull, mulled. One of those words that sounds so silly taken out of context. I've heard of mulled wine. Is that when wine is deep in thought... or the wine drinker maybe? I have to go google that. Wait a minute, I'll be right back.

OK, I'm back. Thanks google...
1. Think about (a fact, proposal, or request) deeply and at length: "she began to mull over the various possibilities".
2. Warm (a beverage, esp. wine, beer, or cider) and add spices and sweetening to it.

Mull - "An island of western Scotland in the Inner Hebrides. It is separated from the mainland on the northeast by the Sound of Mull. ..."

Dang! Now I forgot what I was mulling. Oh ya, bread baking. I thought about it, but last time I baked bread, as I posted somewhere, I accidently brushed against the temp control on the oven and shoved it up to 500 degrees. End result - 2 logs of charcoal.

Then as my thoughts often do, they wandered off to mulling about charcoal. How is it that something that's burned beyond recognition can be used as fuel to grill food? Seriously, that's something really puzzling, don't you think? Well, anyway that's what I was mulling about. I really have to go now. This mulling is hard work! I think I'd like to go to the island of Mull someday. Wonder if the people there sit around thinking all day and if that's where that word came from? I think I'd like it there.

Calgary Bay Mull Isle

Maybe I should bake bread today. Na, let's not go there again!