Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

A very Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow to all my U.S. friends!  Preparations for a somewhat smaller holiday have been taking place here.  Yesterday I made our traditional Apple Cake from the recipe passed down from my Grandmother.  Today I baked Pecan Pies (my favorite!) and also cornbread for the stuffing.  Tonight, I have a date with some sweet potatoes.     


Peeling apples for cake.

Tomorrow we will go to my son’s house.  We have put much thought into whether or not we go since it is being recommended that you stay home this year.  We see my son, Chris occasionally and if there are “covid bubbles” as some describe the small group of people that you do see, my son and his family would be that “bubble” for us.  Local authorities are asking that groups be under ten and our group will be.  It will be my son, daughter-in-law, two grandchildren and grandson’s girlfriend.  Our other son, Sean has decided to not go anywhere so we will deliver some Thanksgiving treats to him afterwards. 

 

Apple Cake

We will take all the goodies I have made to Chris’ house for our family dinner.  Kristi is making the turkey and many other delicious dishes.  She is an excellent cook!  I make the stuffing every year because I use a family recipe that my Mother used to make and everyone loves it.  I’ll also be bringing the sweet potatoes, Apple Cake, Pecan Pies and a few other treats. 

I know Thanksgiving may not be the same for many of us this year because of covid.  The important thing to remember is that we each have many things and people to be thankful for in our lives.  There are some people I would love to be with that I won’t see but they are still in my life from a distance and I am very, very thankful for them all.  I am also thankful for good health for myself and my family.  We have a warm home and plenty of food and I am certainly thankful for those things.  All of my blog friends are also a blessing to me and I am very grateful for each and every one of you!  Happy Thanksgiving! 





Monday, November 16, 2020

The Rocking Chair


I've inherited many small, yet special items from my Mother and Grandmother.  One such item is a small, hand carved toy rocking chair that belonged to my Mother.  Her Grandfather carved it for her when she was very young.  My Mother was born in 1922 so I would estimate the toy rocking chair is over 90 years old.  When I was growing up Mother always had the little chair on a shelf or somewhere around the house where she could see it.  It meant a lot to her since her Grandfather carved it for her and she loved him very much.  In turn it has meant a lot to me and I keep it on a shelf near my sewing machine.  I never knew my Great-Grandfather because he died before I was born, but I heard many wonderful stories about him as I was growing up. 




I don't know if it is just me or not but small items like this mean more to me than anything of any monetary value.  I love to hold it and think about it's history and how something so simple can come to mean so much.


My Mother between her two older
brothers in about 1926.



My Great-Grandfather that carved the
rocker and one of his other grandchildren.
(he lost his leg when younger and working with the railroad)



It's funny when we think about the things that come to be important to us.  Do you have any small, special items like this that have been passed down in your family?  



Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Easing into Winter

 

Some years we quickly slide into Winter with snow, ice and sharp winds.  Other years it is an easier process, more of a gentle teasing of the cold weather to come.  We are fortunate to have the gradual arrival of Winter this year only making itself known more clearly after the change of time that brings the dreaded short, dark days. 


Neighborhood Trees


We had our first snow this year almost a week before the end of October.  Luckily when we get an early snow, we usually have more warm days to come and we did.  Those warm days continued through yesterday when it was sunny and beautiful with a temperature of 74 F (23 C).  I finally decided to tackle the many leaves in our back yard and spent four hours raking and bagging.  I ended up with eight bags of leaves and some pretty good back and knee pains!  Believe it or not, that was from only half of the back yard.  Our yard is not that big but we do have a lot of trees and that means more yard work in both Spring and Fall.  That is fine with me though because I love trees!  By the time I stopped working the sun had disappeared and the sky had that dark, foreboding look.  This morning I stepped out onto our deck and was hit with that sharp cold that is unmistakably the beginning of winter.  We went from temps in the 70’s to the low 40’s (4 C).  Then the heavy, cold rain started.  Oh well, I didn’t feel like finishing the raking today anyway. 

 

Sophie sleeping with her friends


Time does move fast and before we know it the holidays will be here.  For those of us in the U.S. Thanksgiving is just a little over two weeks away and as soon as that is over, we are into the Christmas season.  There is no telling what the holidays will be like this year with the pandemic still here.  We don’t travel over the holidays so the main thing that will change for us will be the lack of local Christmas activities.  I am hopeful that we will still see our kids and grandkids Christmas but these days I know there are no guarantees.  Are you making different plans this year for the holidays?  Maybe someone will come up with some new ways for those of us staying home to celebrate this year?

 



Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Done!

 


We voted this morning and I am happy to say it went smoothly and easily with no problems or delays.  Even though we live in a small town there are many different places to vote and based on where we live in town we are assigned a particular location.  This time it was one of the town's small churches.  Before we even got to the church we could see the line wrapping part of the way around the block.  We were expecting this and actually I am happy to see so many people getting out to vote.  There is usually a good turnout of voters for Presidential elections but this year I believe is a record breaking year throughout our country.  


Line partially around the block


We parked and walked around the block to the end of the line.  Tom was concerned about how long we might be standing in line but it was moving much faster than we had expected.  We were fortunate to have beautiful weather with the sun shining brightly and before we knew it we had reached the church.  Once inside the whole process went quickly.  All Covid precautions were taken with the use of hand sanitizer, masks and the spacing of people voting.  We signed in, received our ballots and were done quickly despite the fact that we had quite a few local issues on the ballot in addition to the Presidential election.   Including the time we were in line, we completed the entire process in 30 minutes.


Beautiful blue skies and good weather


The line moved quickly


So now we have the hard part - the waiting.  It is entirely possible we won't know who won the Presidential election until tomorrow or later.  This is a record breaking year for the number of people voting and that can take time to tabulate.  But I really, really hope we at least have a good idea of who won tonight.  I am also hoping that regardless of who wins there will be no problems as a result of the election.  In most large cities, including Kansas City here, merchants are boarding up windows in anticipation of potential problems.  There have been some rumors of problems if Trump loses.  I hope those are rumors and nothing more.  Our country has gone through so many negative changes in the past four years, it is time for us to heal.   



Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Halloween!

We used to celebrate Halloween every year.  Before I retired I worked in a medical office where we all dressed up in costumes and celebrated at the office.  That was fun finding different costumes to wear each year.  And of course when our two sons were young we enjoyed helping them with costumes and taking them trick or treating and to other holiday activities.  Then when our two grandchildren came along they would often come out to show us their costumes and trick or treat in our neighborhood.  It was fun for them to trick or treat in the same neighborhood that their Dad had lived in as a child.  


We had to carve a Jack-O-Lantern!


These days even our two grandchildren are grown so we have no little ones celebrating.  But we still enjoy our many memories of happy times spent with our children and grandchildren.  With no new Halloween pictures I thought I would post a few memories from Halloween 2004.




Our Grandson Gavin was a Hobbit, complete with sword and toothbrush!  And following the theme of the night our Granddaughter Annika was Arwen from The Lord of the Rings.



We feel blessed to have celebrated many fun holidays with our family.  I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend whether you celebrate Halloween or not!




Sunday, October 25, 2020

A What Did Your Surgery?!

 

Last Friday our younger son Sean had outpatient surgery for a hernia repair.  We always help him out with things like that since he is single and lives alone.  As with many surgeries he had to be at the hospital early - 6 a.m. early.  In order to get to his house to pick him up and then to the hospital in time we left our house at 5 a.m.  I am not really a morning person but you do what you have to do in these situations.  The difficulty we encountered was the fact that just as we were leaving, our area got hit with a major severe thunderstorm that lasted all morning.  Let’s just say the trip to get him to the hospital was not a lot of fun with the storm and the morning rush hour combined.

We did get him there in time despite the storm and traffic.  Due to the increase in covid in our area and new hospital restrictions we had to just let him out at the door.  We were not allowed to enter the hospital and wait inside.  That was difficult for me as a Mother but as my son reminded me, he is an adult.  We knew it would be several hours so we found a restaurant that opened at 6:30 a.m. and went there for breakfast and coffee.  We managed to spend a couple of hours at the restaurant and then went back to the hospital parking lot.  There was really no place we wanted to go after that and we wanted to stay close to the hospital so we waited in the car.  We noticed there were others waiting in their cars too.  The increase in covid combined with the almost full hospitals does create some changes in many different ways.  I received several calls from the recovery room nurse telling us he had done well but had to stay in recovery a bit longer.  Finally, around 1:00 p.m. they let us know we could pick him up.  He was groggy but basically doing okay and we drove him back to our house to stay for the initial recovery time.

After we got home, he casually mentioned to me “You know a robot did my surgery.”  I stopped what I was doing and said “A what did your surgery?”!  Sean thought it was rather cool that his surgery was done by a robot.  Yes, I have heard of that being done these days, but somehow I had not expected it.  I was glad he didn’t tell me that before the surgery as I think I would have been much more worried! 

This is the type of robot that was used.*
                          

Apparently the surgeon he had and the hospital he was in are well know for their robotic surgeries.  I looked up the hospital and read about this type of surgery and I must admit it sounded good.  They say there are many benefits of this type of surgery including greater surgical precision, increased range of motion, improved dexterity, enhanced visualization and improved access.  There is also less pain, less risk of infection, less blood loss, less scarring and faster recovery.  Sean said the surgeon sat at his head at a computer with a screen showing the magnified view of the surgery. 

The doctor sat at a console similar to this.*


Sean is sore and tired but overall doing well, thankfully.  Advancements these days continue to amaze me.  But you know, I’m still glad he didn’t tell me it was a robot until after it was over!



* Credit for photos:    By Cmglee - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,              https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39437443       


 

Monday, October 19, 2020

It’s That Time of the Year

 

Every year about this time I become more acutely aware of the change of seasons.  The days are colder and the nights are longer.  I like the changing of seasons because it keeps me in touch with that part of our world that continues on as it has all my life.  It reminds me that there is something bigger in life that moves forward despite us.

A Squirrel eating one of those hedge apples I mentioned in my last post. 

Saturday was a nice day here with temperatures in the low 70’s, windy but warm.  I spent the day outside doing yard work and getting ready for the winter months.  We have a redbud tree in the front yard that badly needed trimming and I got that done and bagged.  It felt good to be outside in the fresh air especially knowing that we would not have many more days like this.

Saturday night we were able to spend a few hours with our oldest son, Chris, just visiting and enjoying the opportunity to be together for a bit.  We don’t get to see family very often and it is special to us when we do get together.

This past week has been busy with a lot of the basics of life.  I saw my eye doctor as my vision continues to challenge me.  I was given a prescription for new glasses and I got a new pair picked out and ordered.  I look forward to getting them as the pair I have been wearing has not been doing me as much good as they did at first.  This time I ordered the kind of glasses that get darker in the bright sunlight.  I’m supposed to wear sunglasses but I rarely do as they are such a pain when you wear glasses.  I don’t want to carry two pairs of glasses or try and put sunglasses over my regular glasses.  So, I will give these a try and see how they work out. 

Winter was beginning to feel much closer on Sunday when instead of temperatures in the low 70’s our high was in the low 40’s and it was damp and cloudy.  I was glad I had done my outside work on Saturday as this was a day to stay in with the heat turned on.

When it gets cold Zeus always heads for the covers!

This new week will be busy with the usual variety of appointments, grocery shopping and such.  Also on Friday our younger son, Sean, is having outpatient surgery and we are taking him to the hospital for that.  He is not married so we help him out with things like that.

It has been fairly routine days around here.  Many bloggers I know write about their day to day activities but I’m not so sure there is much of interest in my days!  I hope everyone is well and having a nice week!   


Sunday, October 11, 2020

Passing Thoughts

 

It’s been a quiet weekend but that can be good at times.  I’ve stayed busy with odds and ends of jobs around the house.  Yesterday I did some much-needed cleaning in our basement.  We need to get someone out to do a winter check on our furnace this week.  I am also planning on clearing some shelves in the basement for food storage of canned goods.  We have very little storage space in our kitchen so I’m using a couple of shelves in the basement.  I have been slowly adding to our back up stock of canned goods and non-perishables.  This winter has the potential of not being the best and I do want to be prepared.  There have been some predictions of much more snow and cold weather than usual for us on top of the increasing number of covid cases in the area.  It’s funny, in some ways we were much more cautious back in March when the pandemic first started than we are now.  I guess because it was new.  But actually, now it is much worse where we live than it has been at any time before.  We go out for groceries and medical appointments and that’s about it.  Due to our age and Tom’s health we can not afford to take chances but it sure does get old fast. 

I have also been trying to help Tom with a few changes in his life.  Because of his balance problems it was suggested that he start using a walking cane.  When you think about it that can be a big step for some people and not an easy one.  On top of that, he has failed to have much improvement in his hearing and has an appointment this week to talk to someone about getting a hearing aid.  He is not over-joyed with either of these developments and I do understand.  I’m trying to help him see the positive side of both and hopefully he soon will realize the benefits of them.


Trees on our street are just starting to change colors

Our Fall colors are just now getting started and no where near peak color yet.  There are a few trees on our street beginning to change.  In our back yard we have a row of Osage Orange trees and they are dropping their hedge apples or Osage Oranges like crazy all over our yard.  These are a strange fruit that is not edible for humans although the squirrels here love them.  The Osage Orange tree got its name from the Osage Indian tribe which once lived in this area.  They used the wood of the tree for making bows and it is still considered very good for that purpose.  

 

Osage Orange or Hedge Apple Trees


Osage Oranges or Hedge Apples


As you can tell, there is not much excitement here.  I hope everyone is well and enjoying a beautiful Autumn!


Across the street from us



Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Do You Remember Your First Car?


I would guess that most of us remember buying our first car.  It is usually one of those occasions that we have waited, dreamed and worked hard to make it happen.  As I remember, it was a major rite of passage when I learned how to drive and got my first driver’s license.  You had to be 16 to take the test in order to get your license.  I took that test on my 16th birthday.  When I first had my license, I only occasionally drove my Mother's car but I loved the independence.  The summer after I graduated from high school, I got my first full time job as a waitress in a restaurant.  I wasn't crazy about the job but I saved every penny I earned so I could buy my own car. 

When I had saved what I hoped was enough money my Dad and I went to a used car dealer.  I found a 1964 Pontiac Tempest convertible and I was in love!  This was in 1970 so the car was six years old and in excellent shape except it needed new tires.  I paid $500 cash for the car and I still had enough left to buy new tires.  

1964 Pontiac Tempest 

I owned that car for eight years and it served me well.  When I left home it took me from central Arkansas to Memphis, Tennessee.  What an adventure it was being a small-town girl in a big city.  I rented my first apartment and found a job doing office work.  A year later I drove my car to California where I got married and lived for three years.  I still had the same car when I moved to Colorado for a year and eventually to Kansas City, Missouri where I currently live in a nearby small town.  When I was just out of high school the $500 I paid for my car seemed like an awful lot of money but it was a good car and I think I got my money's worth out of it.

What was your first car?  Do you have special memories about how you got it or how you felt when you got it?  Did you have any adventures with that first car that you still remember?      




Monday, September 28, 2020

Alexa Joins the Family


A few weeks ago we received a gift from our son, three Amazon Echo Dots or Alexa, smart speaker/virtual assistant.  I must say there was a time that I would not have one of these in the house.  I was not too sure about something that could be “spying” on you and listening in to what you say.  After learning more about it and seeing how friends and family enjoyed it, I have changed my mind. 

You don’t have to have more than one of these little speakers but if you do you can use them in different rooms plus, they work together as an intercom.   Our house is small and we would normally never need an intercom but with Tom’s hearing getting so much worse this has been very helpful.


 


We have only started learning some of what this can do but already we are glad to have it.  I have it set up with access to a calendar I have on my computer and Alexa will remind us of appointments or I can ask if we have any plans on a certain date and she will tell me.  We can ask anything you would ask Google and she’ll give us an answer.  We can make phone calls through her and she keeps a shopping list for us.  If we receive an Amazon delivery, she tells us when it arrives so we don’t have to worry about it sitting outside.  My favorite use for Alexa is in playing music.  You can request any kind of music and she will play it.  There are many things you can do with it involving controlling lights, heat and other such things but many of those require special plugs, etc.  We are working up to that!  



We’ve also just had fun with it.  We were joking around when we first got it set up and Tom (with his little boy humor) said “I wonder if Alexa farts?”  Immediately she began making farting noises!  Anytime you say her name first, it wakes her up and she does what you asked if possible.  If you have children you might not want to teach them this Alexa ability because I know when my boys were young this would have gotten old fast!  Alexa will also play quiz games and such with you.  She likes to tell jokes but they are usually bad and I don’t recommend you let her sing either.  One of our cats, Sophie, is fascinated with Alexa.  I think she is trying to find the person that goes with the voice. 


I just realized this post sounds like an advertisement for Amazon Echo but I promise you it is not.  I had been curious about this speaker for so long and wondered what it could do so I thought others might be curious too.  Is it a necessary item?  No.  It is a fun convenience plus as I said, ours was a gift.  Maybe our kids are trying to keep us up to date with the new gadgets, or possibly just keep us busy and out of their hair!   😉