Sunday, June 29, 2008

That's Me! A Sparkly Whimsy!!!

A friend and I were recently discussing whimsies. She differentiated between whimsies and gizmos by stating that whimsies were pretty whereas gizmos were merely useful. She and I decided our husbands were Gizmos and she and I were (pretty) Whimsies.

Along comes the weekend with my daughter and 12-year-old grandson. We were uptown and got separated from each other. My daughter asked DGS if he could see me anywhere. "Sure!" he replied. And making mention of my white hair, he added this, "She has sparkly hair!"

That's me! A Sparkly Whimsy!


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Did I Ever Tell You That I Was One of the Boxcar Children? That Was Right After I Was Born in the Piggly Wiggly Parking Lot.

I was at a yard sale with my daughter today. As she was browsing through a stack of children's books she mentioned that there were several Boxcar Children books.

I replied, "I AM one of the Boxcar Children!"

It's true! About two weeks before I was born my mother and father and my two older siblings moved from Nebraska to Iowa. When I was born I was brought home to the new "house", two boxcars placed together to make an L-shaped home. One car was heated with a pot-belly stove. The other had the wood and cob-burning kitchen range. That must have been a cold winter. In the spring we moved to a "real" farmhouse.

Oh, and did I ever tell you that I was born in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot? Okay, that may be stretching it a bit. Actually I was born in the old hospital, an old white two or three story building that was torn down when the community built a new hospital. The lot itself was sold to a fellow who built a grocery store on it. At one time the store was called the Piggly Wiggly. It's been known by other names as well, depending on which company the owner was in association.

It sounds rather ordinary to say I was born "in the old hospital". But to say "I was born in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot," why, that just has a good ring to it. Don't you think?

Oink, oink.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

There's Nothing Nicer Than a Clean Floor Under Bare Feet

It's summertime. And I generally run around the house barefoot. And nothing is more irritating than stepping on some pebble brought in from outdoors, or sensing "sticky" on the floor in front of the stove or sink. (That's probably a bit of hyperbole for there are certainly things in life that are more irritating than a dirty kitchen floor ... the morning headlines for one!).

This morning, after French toast, I noticed that my beloved spouse, a man of many fine qualities but who is prone to dripping food and coffee everywhere he mosies, had left a huge spot of maple syrup on the floor in front of the dishwasher. I'm not talking about a small dab; this was the size of my big toe which had fortunately missed the syrup on its trip across the kitchen.

But Maple Syrup!!! Can you imagine the dire consequences of that having gone unnoticed! Sweet, Sticky Syrup tracked to carpet, to living room, to hallway. Oh, My! Oh, My!

No time like the present to remedy the situation. I mopped the kitchen floor. Mind you, this is not a common occurrence at our house. Other than my hubby's proclivity to leave a trail of crumbs behind him, we're generally tidy people. (He might disagree with the "tidy" part, at least in reference to me!) What I mean is that we generally take our shoes off once inside the door. No little children reside here. No pets. So other than wipe up spots now and then I tend to leave the mopping until the floor gets really bad.

And Oh, Once the mopping is done my feet love that new clean floor. There's nothing nicer than walking barefoot on a freshly clean floor. Well, relatively speaking, that is. I'm certain there are plenty of things nicer than that, but this morning I'm enjoying the minor things of life. It's good to do that once in awhile.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gramma Elise Susanna

My Gramma Elise Susanna S. was born in Germany. She emigrated to the USA as a young adult in 1888 with her parents and at least two of her siblings, Barbara and Conrad. She was a serious woman, steady and faithful. Pretty, too. And strong in her Christian faith.

The family tells a story about Gramma and her future husband, Karl Friedrich H.
Karl had come to the USA himself from Germany as a teenager, arriving in New York in 1880. He traversed the continent and ended up in the Portland, Oregon area. Gramma's sister, Barbara, was there and they became acquainted. Why she was there we do not know for Gramma and her parents were still living in New York City.

Karl and Barbara liked each other (I'm sure Barbara was as pretty as Gramma!) and they planned to marry. Then Karl came down with typhoid fever and it was Barbara who nursed him through the illness. Then Barbara, too, came down with typhoid. And she died. Karl had never met her family, but he put her body in a coffin and took her by train, again traversing the continent, to her parents in New York City. It was there that he met Barbara's sister, Elise.

Karl and Elise were married in 1891 and their firstborn arrived ten months later. Then they moved to Illinois where two more sons were born. Then one Thanksgiving, against their neighbors advice about traveling in winter, they put their children in a wagon and headed to Midland County, Michigan, arriving by Christmas. The rest of the children were born in a cabin on their homestead. Some years later they moved to Nebraska, again by wagon, where they lived out their remaining years.

I think Gramma is adorable in these two photos. (You can click for a closeup.) The first, because she is so pretty as a young woman. The second, because I remember seeing her sitting daily in her kitchen reading her Bible. By then she must have been in her eighties. She had no teeth. She was stoop shouldered. And her hair was thin. But she was still a serious woman, steady and faithful, strong in her Christian faith. And beautiful.

I hope I finish as well as she.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I'm thinking back on a previous post about debit card and credit card fraud that we experienced first hand. At the time I googled the name of the guilty so-called company and found it listed under several similar-sounding names (be sure to read my previous post!). I have some additional thoughts to share with you.

First...if someone calls you and asks for your bank account number DON'T GIVE IT TO THEM! Ditto with your credit card numbers. Admittedly, you may have times when YOU initiate the phone call to make a purchase and give your account number. But if THEY call YOU, never give them any identifying information. (I'm even skeptical about so-called surveys and generally decline such requests by callers.)

Secondly, if you've been scammed, do something about it -- like NOW -- call your bank and/or your credit card company, whichever is appropriate. Also, report the loss to your local police AND to your State Attorney General's office (google will help you out there).

Third, NEVER agree to purchase magazines over the telephone. A friend succumbed to the International Reader's League of Atlanta some time back and their bank account was accessed on a monthly basis for magazines they neither wanted nor read. It was not a simple procedure to cancel the magazines. Again, if this happens to you, contact your State Attorney General's office for help.

Fourth, you can stop those annoying telemarketers by responding "Please take my number off your calling list." Don't answer their questions. Don't talk to them at all. Simply state "Please take my number off your calling list." By law they have to do so. Oh, they may call you another time or two until your name disappears from the lists of the guy sitting next to the first guy, but they do have to cease calling. AND you can stop future telemarketers from calling you by registering your phone number at the National Do Not Call Registry. It may take 30 days for the calls to stop, but they will eventually stop.

Fifth, carefully scan your bank and credit card statements each month. Perhaps you don't think you need to reconcile your statements as long as you know the approximate balance. However, you DO need to watch to be sure someone does not take money from your account without your authorization. Again, I suggest you read my previous post on this topic. If you do, you can quickly return to this page by clicking on the blog title at the top of the page.

Sixth, if you believe some crook has taken funds from your bank or credit card, use Google or Yahoo to search for the name to see if the business is legitimate or a scam.

And, hey, go here for more info on telemarketer fraud.


We're Never Quite Satisfied with the "NOW"!

My post of January 19 reminds me of my wrong attitude today. In January I mentioned that the fierce cold of winter puts me in fear, a nagging fear, perhaps an instinctive fear that the cold will never end. Perhaps that is what causes depression to so many people during those long days of winter (long in consecutive, not long in hours).

In June the fear is there. It simply changes. Now I (and everyone else I meet) express the fear that "summer is almost over". How silly is that!? Summer has just begun. Yesterday, in fact. In the winter I fear the days will never end. In the summer the fear is that the days will too soon end. What a waste of time is that fear!

The days of spring have been getting longer and longer until now, the summer solstice, when the days will begin getting shorter. It's not even the 4th of July yet and we are already turning, running, thinking towards "winter is here again".

In the meantime, today is gorgeous. I need to live in the NOW and be grateful for every moment, winter or summer. God gives us a time for everything. Now is the time.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

To quote from the March 14, 1949 TIME: "This winter the western half of the U.S. got its worst weather in history, and the eastern half some of its mildest. The U.S. Weather Bureau, looking on the dark (or cold) side, regards the 1948-49 winter as the hardest ever—worse in most respects than the winter of 1937. The records are not all in (spring does not come officially until March 21), but already the bureau has a fine collection of weather aberrations and never-befores."

TIME added this comment, " The great blizzard of early January was the worst that ever hit the high-plains states."

We had just recently moved to the farm mentioned in my previous post. Dad, my uncle, and my two older brothers picked the wrong day to drive to Sioux City for supplies. It began snowing before their return and by the time they got a third of the way home the authorities had closed the road and were directing traffic to a small business on Highway 141 that we called The Trading Post. There they spent the night. My brothers were about seven and five years old. They were cute little guys and other travelers treated them to Coca Cola.

At home we had no telephone. When they failed to return home before dark Mom knew they must have been stranded some place. And she, too, was stranded with two smaller children and herself five months pregnant. It must have been a long night for her, waiting, wondering.

I don't remember the storm itself but I do remember the deep snow the next day. Mom must have kept the house warm enough with the potbelly wood-burning stove in the middle of the dining room for I don't remember it being cold. I'm sure she remembers it, but somehow cold and heat are not memories of my early childhood.

I'll have to ask my second brother which car they were driving that day. We had a 1928 Studebaker but also acquired that year or the next another vehicle, an old Buick. He'll remember. He has a good memory for details.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It Was 1949 and Times Were Hard

I was four years old when we moved to this 80-acre hill farm in Iowa. Our family was already large and a new baby came along soon after the move. Five children. Two bedrooms. No running water, no electricity, no gravel road, and not a lot of money.

My mother cried when she first saw this place. (Click on the photo to see an enlargement.) After all, she was the one who did the cooking on a wood stove, the washing in a wringer washer operated by a Maytag engine, and tried to keep us fed on little or nothing. Dad was hard-working, too, but his work was outdoors, in the fields, taking care of animal and crops, and in addition, working as a hired man on another farm. It was hard for Mom.

But from my perspective, from the perspective of a skinny four-year-old, and then five-year-old, life on this little farm wasn't all that bad. I didn't know we were poor. I never thought a thing about it when Dad ground corn in a small grinder (again powered by the Maytag) and Mom cooked it for breakfast. And it never dawned on me that plucking pigeons because there was no other meat was out of the ordinary.

One afternoon when our parents were elsewhere (field? garden? where?) we kids were in the house alone. My older brother decided to pop corn for us. This meant that he had to light the cobs in the wood stove. We imitated our parents by striking matches on the window frame and tossing them into the stove to try to get the fire going. In the process we set the curtain afire. My brother was savvy enough at age eight years old to pull the curtain from the window and toss it into the stove, flames and all. Of course, my parents fussed when they found out and instructed us to never again attempt to light the stove.

The last winter we lived there Dad borrowed some traps from a neighbor and set trap lines. Daily he skinned the animals and hung the stretched furs in the garage, intending to sell them for much-needed cash. One Sunday, while we were gone to Nebraska to visit relatives, some crook stole our "cash", the furs. But losing the cash crop was not the worst thing to Dad...what bothered him most was that they had also stolen the traps which were borrowed and which he could not replace. What a dirty thing to do to a man trying to raise a family, a decent and good man.

In spite of the struggles, we children loved living here. We roamed the fields and the creek, dodged bees, picked mulberries, climbed the hills. It's a matter of perspective. It was hard work for a Mom and a Dad. But for us it was a good place to be.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Glass Whimsies For the Deck

I'm a confirmed buyer of Great Yard Sale Finds. I try to look at things with a creative eye. Currently out on the deck I have three glass whimsies hanging where they will catch the morning sun. They were originally part of a candle holder which by design was really, really ugly. However, the glass! Half an inch thick with an impressed design on one side. AND there were pre-made holes in the corners of each piece which made them perfect for hanging. I bought them for the express purpose of dismantling the candle holder and recycling the glass. I thought initially about hanging them in a window and I may do that this winter. But first, they will spend the summer out on our new deck.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'm Persnickety and When the Waitress Comes Carrying My Coffee Cup Like This It Burns Me

Dear Waiter/Waitress:

When you bring my coffee cup to the table, holding it by the rim with your fingertips, I'm hoping silently that you've recently washed your hands. Wouldn't it seem logical for you to hold the cup by its handle and not by the rim?

The same holds true for an iced tea glass, but at least with the tea I get a straw. It's really difficult to drink hot coffee through a straw.

So, especially during cold and flu season, or if you have a sniffle, or if you've not lately washed your hands in hot soapy water, or if, God forbid, you are an unknowing carrier of some hepatitus or other virus, Please, Please, keep your hands off the rim of the cup. I realize that in the Grand Scheme of Things this may seem unimportant. However, I really, really do not want your fingers in my mouth.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sarah Bernhardt in Bloom

Most of my peonies are blooming late this year. This is a Sarah Bernhardt purchased three years ago from Gilbert H. Wild & Son Inc. All of my other peonies are "heirloom" in that they are transplanted from one yard to another over the years. This peony is the only one in my backyard with a "name" and the color is lovely. A huge bouquet sits on my bathroom counter where the mirror doubles its blooms. Be sure to click on the pic for a close-up. Too bad the net doesn't allow for fragrance. Sigh!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Two More Construction Crane Accidents -- One Day Apart in Dallas, Texas

Remember my post about multiple accidents with construction cranes? Here's another one! I can't believe it! This one happened today at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium with several construction workers being injured. Today's accident (June 12) follows an accident yesterday (June 11), also in Dallas, where a crane hook fell and killed a construction worker.

Have there always been a high number of crane accidents? Am I paranoid in thinking this is very, very weird?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Set Your Mirrors Properly and You Won't Have to Deal With Blind Spots

Click here for a quick reference on how to set your car mirrors so as to eliminate that blind spot while driving on the freeway.

My siblings and I grew up in the Fifties/Sixties on a farm ten miles from town on a gravel road. Drivers of that era used their rear-view mirrors AND their side mirrors to see what was BEHIND them. I had no idea that the mirrors could be adjusted for freeway driving in a way that would make that nightmare experience a breeze.

Then I read how to PROPERLY set my door mirrors. Click on the link in my first sentence to read how to set your mirrors so that you can safely drive down the highway, using your mirrors to be assured you can move safely from one lane to the next without having to constantly turn and glance over your shoulder. If your mirrors are adjusted correctly, a car coming up behind you will appear in your center mirror (the one on the windshield). As the car passes you it leaves that mirror and will appear in your left (or right) mirror. And as it leaves that mirror it will appear in your peripheral vision (it doesn't hurt to glance slightly to the side at this point).

It took a few days of practice to begin trusting the mirrors but this revolutionized my driving experience. If you do a lot of highway driving and you have not learned this method, do it now. You will begin driving frantic freeway traffic with a lot less stress.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I've Been Saving Money Like Crazy!!!

I've been able to save a lot of money over the past couple weeks! However, each time the saving has been on behalf of OTHER people and not for myself.'s been rather fun and finding treasure for someone else is almost as much fun as finding it for yourself.

Case #1 - I was able to help a relative retrieve $1400 taken from their bank account by a scam artist.
Case #2 - I was able to help a young teen friend sell an item on eBay to earn money for church camp this summer.
Case #3 - While helping at a yard sale I was looking through books that my friend had for sale. Inside one I found an envelope that contained three U.S.Savings Bonds that had been purchased in 1993. Those bonds are worth a total of about $275 to her three children. Was I surprised! And so was she!
Case #4 - Periodically I check out the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt. Along with my own name I check names of friends, neighbors, relatives. I was able to call my sister-in-law and tell her that her former employer, Gateway Computers, owed her $75 in wages. The money is sitting there waiting for her to fill out a form.
Case #5 - Thanks to our notifying friends and neighbors about the debit card scam we experienced, a friend spotted an unauthorized withdrawal from his bank account and was able to retrieve the money. If you haven't read about this fraudulent scheme in my previous blog post, click here! And be sure to check your own bank and credit card statements for unauthorized withdrawals. The crooks are working overtime.

Not a bad haul! Even if I never pocketed a dime for myself.
Said with a wide grin on my face.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Peonies Are In Bloom

How you pronounce "peonies" depends on where you live. Here in the Upper Midwest, populated by German and Swedish immigrants, we say PEE-uh-nees. I've heard other people call them pee-O-nees with the accent on the "O". It makes no difference how you pronounce the word, the flower is utterly beautiful. Cllick on the photo for a spectacular close-up.

When I was growing up, every yard had several peony bushes. If the weather cooperated and the blooms were "on time" the flowers made lovely bouquets on Memorial Day.

They also make a lovely bouquet in my living room and the fragrance fills the house. I wish they would develop a peony that blooms throughout the summer. Heaven!

How did I take this photo? I sliced the peony in half and laid it on the scanner. Leaving the lid open gives it the black background. My scanner is old and there are probably glints from lint, etc., but the results are still lovely.


My Little Red Bike

I mentioned that I want a bike! And here it is! The first "new" bike that I've ever owned (I don't count the ugly thing I bought in the 1970s). This one is Red! Or, as the bike maker calls it, Deep Fuschia!

It's just the right height that I can sit astraddle with both feet planted firmly on the ground. In order to get the appropriate reach for my feet (so the leg is nearly extended at the farthest point of the pedal), the stirrups are placed slightly forward of the seat. It's difficult to explain. But it works.

The model is Trek's Pure Low Step. Click here to see it in Haze Blue.