Saturday, February 29, 2020

February 29th - A Memory

This date has special meaning to me.  When I was a child we joked about it being “Leap Day” and said we would not want to be born on this date.  Who wants a birthday only once every four years?  But what if you died on this date?  I never thought about that.

Well, now I’ve thought about that a lot in the past 12 years because my older brother Jerry died on February 29, 2008.  He was 65 years old and died after a five year battle with Mantel Cell Lymphoma cancer.  He went through multiple chemotherapy treatments, an attempted stem cell transplant and many other uncomfortable treatments.  He was treated at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  He spent several weeks at the Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester after the stem cell transplant.  There was a requirement that he have someone stay there with him during that time.  Charlie, our brother, and I each stayed with him for half of his time there.  I took medical leave from my job and stayed for the first part and then Charlie came for the remainder of the time.

I don’t mean to write all this as something sad.  I just want to share my memory of someone that was very special in my life.

Charlie, myself and Jerry, Easter 1954
Jerry was a writer and a newspaper editor but more than anything he was a lover of nature.  He settled in Minnesota because he loved the beautiful countryside, lakes and wildlife.  He camped out and canoed as much as he could and he even spent most of one year living in the wilderness with his tent and canoe.  He taught me so much about many things and always listened when I had a problem.  Jerry was a unique and real person in a world that was often very superficial. 

He had requested to be cremated and have his ashes spread in a quiet and hidden part of the Mississippi headwaters where he used to camp.  He was the first member of our family to be cremated and I initially had mixed feelings about it.  Per his request we only had immediate family members there when we spread his ashes.  It was a beautiful and private ceremony.  It could not have been more perfect and well suited to who he was as a person.

When I thought about his death falling on a date that comes just once every four years, I realized that date would have suited him perfectly.  He was not like any other person I’ve ever known.  He would have liked that date.  If it had not been leap year he would have died on March 1st and he would never have wanted that because it was our Mother’s birthday.  It is funny how things work out sometimes.   

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Cats in Windows

Sophie & Zeus
Our cats, Sophie and Zeus love to spend time looking out the windows and doors.  They each look out for different favorite things.  If they are in another part of the house and we call out "squirrels" they will each come running.  Of course they both love watching the birds and squirrels but Sophie in particular considers that her personal job.  Each morning, bright and early, she assumes her position at the back door.  She is usually perched on top of their cat tower watching out for birds and squirrels.  She takes her work seriously and will only leave a couple of times during the day until 5:00 PM when she considers herself off work and goes to another room for a nap.

Zeus, on the other hand, prefers to watch trucks out the front window.  There is nothing he loves more than to watch the garbage truck come by each week.  He always watches intently as the men dump the garbage in the truck and drive away.  If Zeus is in a different room and we call out "Zeus, truck" he will come running to the front window.  Sophie could care less for things like trucks and will not come.

Zeus & Sophie watching the Santa Bus
There is one exception when Sophie does like to see a vehicle driving by the house.  In our small town they have a Santa Bus that drives all around each neighborhood on weekends in December.  The Santa Bus carries Santa and his Elves and stops to visit with children and give out small gifts.  Both Sophie and Zeus absolutely love the Santa Bus.  It arrives with a police escort and the sound of sleigh bells and when it stops, often in front of our house, a line of children quickly appear to see Santa.  Sophie and Zeus both love to watch this annual Christmas activity!  They even like it better than the Ice Cream Man and yes, when they hear his music they come running to the window.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Do You Remember Green Stamps?

I was sorting through some old boxes the other day and found a relic from the past - Green Stamps.  I had put away a couple of the booklets filled with green stamps, an old catalog and a couple of other trading stamps popular in the 1960s. 

When I was growing up I remember my Mother saving Green Stamps.  You received them at many different stores and gas stations based on how much money you spent.  If you saved these up and stuck them in a book you could redeem them for nice gift items.  My Grandmother used to send her stamps to me so I quickly got in the act of saving and spending them too.  I remember using them to buy birthday and Christmas gifts for my Mother.  One year I got her a beautiful mirrored, perfume vanity tray.  Another time I saved up and bought a ukulele for myself.  We had a catalog and could shop for anything we wanted to buy with our carefully saved up stamps.  When we had enough saved we went to the Green Stamp Store to make the purchase.


S & H Green Stamps were popular from the 1930s until the late 1980s.  The S & H stood for Sperry & Hutchinson.  You could buy a large variety of items with the stamps ranging from furniture to small appliances and many other household items.  Some things were as inexpensive as one or two books of stamps and others could cost twenty or thirty or more.  

Along with the old Green Stamps I found were a couple of other types of stamps we used to save back in the 1960s.  There were Blue Chip and Top Value Stamps.  I don't think these were as popular as the Green Stamps but several different types of stamps were used by different stores as a kind of rewards program.

I wondered if other countries had used this type of reward program in the stores.  After a little research I discovered there was a British sales program very similar to this using Green Shield Stamps.  Does anyone here remember these stamps or maybe some other similar program that may have been popular?     

Apparently the mention of the Green Shield Stamps even made its way into Pop Culture.  Genesis mentioned them in the song "Dancing with the Moonlight Knight" from their 1973 album Selling England by the Pound.  There is a line that says: "Knights of the Green Shield stamp and shout".  Jethro Tull also mentioned Green Shield stamps in the song "Broadford Bazaar".

I don't know about you, but things like these stamps really take me back.  Like many other things from the past, these are now just a part of our memory.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Another Birthday

We've had a nice weekend after a week of snow, ice and temperatures as low as
 4° F.  It has been above freezing all weekend and we even celebrated another family birthday.  My grandson, Gavin, had his 18th birthday yesterday!  That is a special birthday for most.  I can even remember looking forward to my 18th birthday.  We had a wonderful meal in a nice restaurant on the Plaza in downtown Kansas City.  Afterwards, we went back to my son's house for more family time and gift opening.  It is so hard for me to believe my youngest grandchild is now 18 years old!  It seems like he was just born a few weeks ago.  I don't know how anyone else feels but I think grandchildren grow up twice as fast as your own children.

My Grandson Gavin

Last week ended on a sweet note with Valentine's Day.  I hope everyone had a nice day.  We don't really celebrate the day by going out or anything like that but Tom did bring me some beautiful roses and chocolate covered strawberries - yum!  I gave him some pistachios (his favorite) and some of his favorite candy.

We have had a fairly relaxing day today.  I am getting ready to start another scanning project.  It is a goal of mine to scan all of my family's printed photos.  I have a huge quantity of  photos considering that we did not start taking digital photographs until around 2000.  Add to that the fact that our family has always taken a lot of photos going all the way back to the early 1900's and even a few from the late 1800's.  To complicate matters more, I also hope to write names and dates on pictures that are not identified.  Last year I scanned about ten years worth of photos from when my boys were young.  At some point I need to pick up from there but that is not what I'll be doing this time.  I want to get all the really old photos scanned.  Has anyone else taken on the project of scanning family photos?  If so, I could sure use any tips you may have!

Have a great week!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Escape Puzzle

Puzzle, Instructions and Sealed Envelope
I mentioned in my last post that I was starting a new jigsaw puzzle that was a little different.  It is called an Escape Puzzle but is similar to other puzzles called Mystery Puzzles.  There is a short story explaining that you have accidentally eaten poison mushrooms.  You find a witches kitchen which contains an antidote somewhere but you have to find it.


The puzzle was more difficult than most for a couple of reasons.  The actual puzzle was not identical to the picture on the box.  It was close to the same but there were several changes.  In addition to that, the edge pieces were all basically the same shape making my usual practice of working the edges first not a good idea.  

In Progress
Once I had the puzzle together then I had to solve the other puzzle of finding the antidote.   

Completed Puzzle
The instruction sheet said there were eight mysteries hidden within the puzzle that had to be solved in order to find the solution.  It also listed a web page that would give clues to the eight areas of the puzzle.  The design of the puzzle was such that I could not be sure of what the eight areas were so I did check out the web page for those clues.  Here are two examples of the clues showing puzzles within the puzzle:

Numbers Puzzle
Symbols Puzzle

Most of the puzzles were number related involving figuring out sequences of various numbers, etc.  A couple of them involved working with symbols that were translated into numbers.  For example, copies of the symbols were hidden within the puzzle itself with an = sign and numbers.  At first it was a bit overwhelming, but once I caught on I was able to solve four of the eight puzzles.  Each of the eight puzzles answer was a number.  The next step was to find those numbers on edge pieces of the puzzle.  Okay, I had half of the eight puzzles solved but not the remaining four.  I finally gave up and opened the "secret envelope".  It was a bit of a let down because it only listed the eight numbers but did not tell how to get them.  It did confirm that the four I was able to solve were correct.  I next went around the edges of the puzzle and pulled out the eight corresponding number pieces.  I had trouble getting good pictures of the puzzle but if you click to enlarge the next picture you may be able to see some of the numbers on the edge pieces.

Numbers on Edge Pieces
Besides listing the eight numbers the solution also had a picture of the final solution.  The eight edge pieces I pulled fit together to form a tiny puzzle and the one center piece was a piece from the main puzzle showing a small plant - the antidote.  Unfortunately that piece did not even fit properly even though it was listed as the correct piece.

Final Solution
If you have stayed with me this long then you have done well.  I agree this was a little confusing and did not have enough directions.  Plus the fact that the final answer puzzle did not even fit properly.  I checked reviews on this puzzle online and found that most other people working this ran into the same problems.

Would I do another puzzle like this one?  No, not as it is now.  I did enjoy some of the basic concepts of this and the various puzzles involved but it needs to be cleaned up a lot and have some clear instructions.  I enjoy working a variety of puzzles whether jigsaw, number, symbol or whatever but I like basic instructions as to what I am supposed to do!

I hope everyone is having a good week and all the various weather problems out there this week are not causing too much trouble!

Monday, February 3, 2020

A New Week

I can not tell you how happy I am to see a new week!  I am in hopes of getting back into a more normal routine after dealing with my husband’s flu all last week.  He is not yet 100% but he is improving and much better than he was at this time last week.

We celebrated a family birthday yesterday.  My beautiful granddaughter, Annika, actually turns 24 today but we celebrated yesterday.  I can not believe I have a grandchild that is 24!  Those years pass by so quickly.  She is a wonderful, loving and kind young lady and we are very proud of her!
My lovely granddaughter, Annika
We are also very happy today because our local Kansas City Chiefs football team actually won the Super Bowl last night!  We live in the heart of the Chiefs Kingdom and it would be an understatement to say most everyone around here is a major fan.  Even watching the game from home last night there were many fireworks going off with each score and when we won the game it was like the Fourth of July around here with fireworks and excitement going late into the night.  Wednesday there will be a big parade in Kansas City and all the area schools and many businesses are closed for a day of celebration.  As I’ve said before, I am not a huge sports fan, but when you live here you can’t help but be a Chief’s fan! 
I am hoping to get a little better about blogging as I feel like I have gotten off to a very slow start.  I’m still learning as I go, but I follow so many excellent blogs and I consider them all to be great examples.  I may soon have a post about a new type of jigsaw puzzle I have started.  It is a mystery/escape puzzle and totally new to me so I’ll let you know how it goes!

Take care everyone!