Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Elvis

Not Elvis Presley, nor even Elvis Stojko (the Canadian ice skater)

Today's blog is about Elvis, Elvis the Bird. You may not have heard of him, but he was pretty famous at 570 South Main Highway in Clifton.

When I was a kid, my dad hated magpies and was always figuring out ways to get rid of them. I thought they were kind of pretty but if he hated them, I figured there was probably a good reason. He said they were a filthy bird, but years later changed his mind when he realized how much they helped the environment.

Originally, magpies were simply called pie birds--for pied, or piebald...meaning black & white; the "mag" part was added to the "pie"...for reasons that make me queasy. I don't know why black & white cows are called holsteins, nor if the Pied Piper was pied, so you'll have to ask somebody else about that stuff.

From what I've studied, the black & white magpies are called Holarctic, meaning living north of the equator; that must make me Holarctic, too. There are Oriental magpies that are blue and green. India has a beautiful turquoise-y bird called a green magpie. I don't recall seeing a magpie nest, but the pictures I found show them looking like most bird's nests, just with a dome. Magpies have long tails, generally half the length of their bodies. Their average life span is 4-6 years. Their chatter is noisy enough to be labeled obnoxious, a fact I can verify. They also hop around a lot. There was a poem in a little book we had around the house that went like this:

There was a little bird
That went hop hop hop,
And I cried: "Little bird,
Won't you stop stop stop?"
I was going to the window
To say: "How do you do?"
When he shook his little tail,
And far away he flew.

(I am constantly mystified as to why I can remember stuff like this and yet forget where I hid my grandkid's Christmas presents. I spent a couple of hours on Christmas Eve tearing the house apart looking for two such presents and finally found them in little bags under the tree...right where my granddaughter had put them two weeks before...when I asked her to wrap the presents.)

Studies suggest that magpies may mate for life, even staying together year-round. Studies can be whatever people make them, but Elvis and his wife spent their summers at the Magpie Riviera...atop my parent's house. I don't know when they named him, but probably at least not until he returned the second year, proving he wasn't fickle. I am assuming they named him Elvis because he sang a lot; perhaps they called his lady Priscilla. I should ask Mother sometime.

We would all be excited to hear when Elvis arrived each spring. Then one year Elvis came alone; it was pretty melancholy.

A year or so later, Elvis quit coming. We mourned.

A lesson in perspective...


Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's A Mystery...

That would be my response if Alex Trebek were asking the question, rather than giving the answer, to "How did you get that collection of pens you have?"

The other day I was writing something and noticed some wording on the pen. That lead to a hunt-and-seek to see what other pens are lying around the house. Among my collection are pens from:

American Bank of Heber, Utah (not where I have ever banked)

Utah Collex Inc (whatever that is) from Payson, Utah

Walgreens

Zyrtec (a navy and lime-colored pen I got from the doctor one day. I was wearing a lime green shirt and navy blue pants and made a comment about matching the pen, and he handed it to me.)

Bilco Safe & Lock

A pen that looks like a candy cane

Utah Retirement Systems (every 22 years you get a free pen)

The Mending Shed, a fabulous little fix-it shop in Orem

And one from Disneyland (where I've never been) given to me by a co-worker.

My regular daily pen-of-choice is the good old all-blue Papermate. Once in a while, I'll get on a Bic kick, especially the "Round Stic". For years, I was legendary at work for only wanting the clear pen from Bic with the black ink (10 for $1.00), and considered it a personal challenge to use up every drop of ink, no doubt some inherited frugality issue. It's amazing how much you can get out of a pen even when it looks like it's empty. A couple of times I even wrapped some Scotch tape around the tip to hold it together til the ink was all gone. Pure satisfaction! However...if a pen starts to leak, whether old or brand new, I have no qualms whatsoever about throwing it in the nearest trash can.

Just out of curiosity (why are there so dang many pens around here?), I decided to count them...not every one in the house, under the beds, etc, mind you, just in the usual places. I was amazed to find we have more than 100 pens around here, and all of them have ink, so without ever buying another one, we are good to go for several lifetimes. However, Imelda Marcos-like, I know at some point, I will walk down an aisle sometime/somewhere and be overcome by the urge to buy another pen. It's my cheap thrill.

When I was a kid, The Lindy Co. (now defunct) made a wonderful line of "stick pens" with metal clips which came in several colors (13 to be exact) and two different lengths, @2-3 for a dollar, the only example of reverse-inflation in the universe. Now, if there's something neater than a regular pen, it's a pint-sized version. Oh, how I wish I had 100 Lindy pens lying around!

I own two pens used just for writing, and then only for serious writing. They are both silver and made by Cross. One is a man's pen and a little too fat for me to use comfortably. The other is a lady pen, not wonderfully slick like the fat pen and a little too trimline to keep a good grip. But, like Cinderella's step-sisters, I know a glass slipper when I see one :o)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Love Is Never Having to Say You're Sorry?

This story is priceless, another day (episode) in the life of Grandson Talon. He is obsessed with Calvin & Hobbes and could indeed give Mr. Patterson a run for his money.

In Dayna's words (mostly):

"The night before last (Saturday) around 1:00 am. Talon got an extra surge of energy, he goes into his room and when he comes out, he had a poster board wanting me to cut out a mask for him 'cause he wanted to be a Super hero. I made him a mask. His hero's outfit consisted of a sword on his right hip, a little toilet plunger on the left hip, two colored markers in his belt loop, no shirt, and a plastic bag for his cape and mask. Then back into his room. When returning to the front room, he asked me to make him a real cape. Now it was late so I told him not now, we'll have to do it tomorrow. He needed to go to bed. The next thing I noticed, he had paper and a marker and was drawing (which is nothing new since he is always creating something).

The next morning as I got up and walked past his bedroom door, I noticed the sign:

Then entering the kitchen, I saw laid out on the counter the book. Looking at the picture on the cover of the book, it was exactly like Talon's super hero costume the night before.
I opened up the book. You'll see many scenes and segments of him. Cleaning the house, eating his favorite foods then the story turns to him going to the dump, me yelling at him, me over his grave, etc.

Then later on that morning he and I were on the couch. I was watching a movie and he was holding his note and book he just made. He looks over at me and says: "Mom if you apologize, I will rip up the note and book". I explained I wasn't going to apologize for sending him to bed because it was late, and I didn't do anything wrong.

About 20 or 30 minutes later we were still on the couch and I was really involved in the movie we were watching, Mantracker. When he started to ask me questions, thinking he was playing one of his many little games, and not wanting to hurt his feelings again, I answered his questions while watching tv, not really paying attention. First question was "Mom, what's the first letter in Super hero?" I answered S. Then a few minutes later "Mom, what's the first letter in Octopus?" I said O. Again a few minutes later, "So Mom, what's the second to the last letter in Shark?" Annoyed, since I knew he knew the answers, but still playing along, I'm like R, Talon. "Mom, what the first letter in Roar?" R, Talon. "Mom what's the first letter in Yellow? I answered, its Y. Then Talon looks at me with a slight grin and holds up the letter he had written...and begins to rip it down the middle.

That's when I realized he'd played me better than Mantracker, and I had just spelled out the word SORRY.

Friday, October 21, 2011

About Fencing

Not the action kind that involves swords and sabers and Zorro,(though the old electric fences could certainly give that effect, and I can verify that personally) but the kind that kept the cows corralled. Most fences around the farm yard were made out of wood rather than the fancy pipe ones they make now, which improvement I applaud. The wood fences had to be painted over and over and over. Though it seemed we painted them all every year, Dad told me once that he bought a 5-gallon bucket each spring and painted til it was gone. Sometimes it was red paint, and sometimes it was white. Somewhere I have a picture of my two oldest boys "helping" Grandpa paint. Apparently not all five gallons went on the actual fences, and my suspicion is that the painting did at least as much to keep us occupied and out of trouble as it did to improve the looks of the wood.

Well do I remember Dad's diligent upkeep of those funky cedar fence posts. They were famous for tipping one way or the other, causing the wire staples to work loose. He kept a tin can with fence-mending material and a hammer on hand on an every-day basis. There were also some wire-stretchers for more major repair. Somewhere along the line, he developed a real interest in collecting old barbed wire, probably because it was a visual symbol of hard work, with some creative ingenuity thrown in.

He had some of his own wire, people learned of his interest and gave him some they came across, and he would take his metal detector on rides to old places to search for stuff like that. It was one of his few hobbies, that and reading.

He mounted them on a shed wall, then later on something more mobile. One time he was asked to show them at a library or school in the Logan area and give a small presentation to some kids. I remember that day; he dressed up in a long-sleeved shirt, shined boots, bolo tie, and ever-present hat. It pleased him that someone would care about what he had done. It was always his pleasure to learn and teach others about historical and conservative things.

After my dad passed away, a caring craftsman built several professional wood-framed panels, all labeled and covered with glass, to display Dad's barbed wire collection. That would have pleased my dad, and did me as well. I agree that these should stay in Clifton, but I don't think they should become part of anybody's private collection. They should be displayed openly so they can retain their purpose of educating and bringing joy to many people.

When I was at Papa Jay's in Clifton recently, eating lunch, I noticed some walls there that could be a decent place to display Dad's collection. Another possible alternative might be at the Moyle Center. I think that would just add to the town's ambiance, and many more people could enjoy and learn. Like fine paintings and other art, such a tribute lifts the observer and thus, should be open to all.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

1941

Today marks seventy years since my mother and dad got married, her first anniversary without him. I imagine today was one of the longest days of her life. Love you, Mom!!!


In honor of their farming years, here is a bit of trivia to store in your brain:

Barns are red because the original "paint" farmers had was a mixture of things lying around...milk, oil, and rust. That's what it says. It makes sense. I don't know why the milk or rust, but the oil was probably to protect the wood from the elements. Perhaps the rust just gave it color, or maybe it gave some boost for lasting, or even might have been a bug inhibitor. Maybe the milk was a catalyst of some kind. Maybe it was to make the cows feel at home. Maybe....

Who knows? I'm sure they had their reasons and, frankly, I can't imagine a barn any other color and am not going to start second-guessing any farmer...or farmer's wife, either.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Harvest Home

During the Top Shot show last night (and what a great episode), there was a trailer for a new tv series called "Harvest", which begins tomorrow. It caught my attention, not because I intend to watch it, but because it was a catalyst to an old memory. Recalling the event causes me mixed emotions, and here's why:

Farming is serious business, life-blood stuff. If a farmer's grain crop happened to survive summer hail and wind storms...and insect or rodent infestation...and mold issues...and if the weeds didn't take over, or any other myriad problems occurred, it would be ready to harvest in late fall. It wasn't like alfalfa which was harvested 3-4 times a year. This was a one-shot crop. The farmer had to watch it like a hawk and call in the combines the very moment the grains were ready, so as to prevent them from drying out and falling to the ground, an impossible harvest.

I remember one summer when the combine man (we usually had Quint Crockett do it, but you took anyone who could get there fast enough) had arrived and was hard at work. The big red combine was munching up swaths of wheat, somehow separating the heads from the stalks, storing the grain and disgorging the stalks, transforming them into straw. The straw was used for bedding warmth for the animals in winter. A beautiful day can turn into a nightmare in less than one minute flat, and that's what happened on this day.

All of a sudden, a spark from the combine lit a fire in the field across from the house. The effect was a lot like a forest fire in dry bark chippings. It goes wild in an instant. I was probably about 8 years old or so and had no clue what to do...but Dad flipped into firefighter mode instantly. I remember Mother yelling to get all the quilts and gunny sacks and soak them in water. Dad had a little pump in a nearby field, but nothing that comes close to fire-fighting capacities. We were running around like mice, and I had an awful feeling of catastrophe, but did just as I was told.

The combine man, who was no doubt experiencing his own kind of horror, was driving his machine around like a drunk driver. He was trying to harvest all he could before the fire devoured everything in sight, including himself. Keep in mind, the nearest fire department was 12 miles away, and all would have been lost before they even arrived in Clifton.

What happened next is the miraculous part. In probably less than five minutes, people arrived in cars and trucks, with loads of wet blankets, water containers, shovels, anything they could find to fight the fire. To my recollection, there were at least two other men with combines who left their own fields to come to the rescue. Even as a child, I knew this was not an ordinary happening, combines running at full speed in random directions while trying to avoid each other and the flames that were spreading in diverse directions. Men, women and children were beating the ground with blankets and gunny sacks and shovels. Some were digging up dirt and throwing it onto the flames. Some were stomping on small sections of flames with their boots. Nobody was wildly giving orders. Nobody was screaming or swearing at anybody. Nobody was just standing around. It reminded me of what it must have been like when the pioneers were besieged with the crickets and saved by the seagulls. This day all Cliftonites were seagulls.

It was the ultimate Neighborhood Watch. We had not placed one phone call. There was simply spontaneous love and caring...and preparation...and work. Set aside the fact that Dad and Mother and our group would have done exactly the same thing for others at the same speed as everyone in town did that day for us; to me this was, and remains, an experience more remarkable than all of the 7 Wonders of the World combined.

Just another day in Clifton, Idaho, home of the "Seagulls".


Monday, September 12, 2011

Old School

The other day, Teelay and I made a run to the local library. It's a pretty fantastic place. A couple of years ago, they remodeled things, so now it's mostly a self-checkout setup, unless there's some kind of glitch with a bar code or something. You drop your library card into a little slot and up comes a screen on a monitor asking for your "pin" number. You also have to declare if you want the instructions in English or not. Once that's done, it tells you to place three books/items on the flat surface where some invisible scanner reads the book titles. The titles are listed on the monitor and turn green once they pass inspection. You repeat the process until all your items are swooped. Then it asks if you want a print out of the items or not. You can also pay any overdue fees with this machine.

Eons ago, when checking out a book from the county or school libraries, the procedure was quite different. Tightly glued to the reverse side of the front cover was a little envelope-type thing. Inside the little envelope was a "check out" card, about the size of a recipe card, with lines on it. You took the book to the librarian and told her who you were. She took the card out of the envelope and stamped the date on it. Then you put your signature on the appropriate line and knew you had two weeks from that date to return it.

Both systems work and I don't mean to criticize either. There was, however, something wonderful and personal about pulling out that little card and adding your signature before it went on file. It's a tad ironic to me that we go to a library which only carries items meant to communicate, yet never communicate with an actual library employee, just Ms. Machine. I understand the cost-saving issues and even the possible time-saving issues, and really love the way you can renew your items by phone or online rather than having to drag them all back and forth, but it was a little more wonderful when someone smiled at you on your way out.

A few more things that have become retro are:

Handle-wound pencil sharpeners. Mostly now they have the electric kind. You jab your pencil in and pull it back out in less than two seconds. With the old kind, you turned the handle on the wall-mounted sharpener several times. It seemed so much more satisfying. What I've noticed is that both types have the same downside; certain operators empty the shavings into the garbage on a regular basis even if they've only used it once that week and certain other operators find that effort beneath themselves.

Typewriters used to be manual. To you youngins, that means they weren't plugged into an electric socket, nor did they have batteries; you were on your own. The "keys" back then were not the same type (pun intended) as the keys we use now. They were striker keys, more like how a pianist plays the keys which hit some other gizmo which causes the sound (that's the best description a non-piano player can do). These typewriters weren't attached to printers. You rolled a sheet of paper in the top and turned a knob on the side, feeding the paper into the proper position. The keys would strike a fabric ribbon, which was pressed against the paper. If the words weren't showing up very well, it was time to get a new ribbon. You had to clean off the key strikers now and then or they would smudge, especially letters like b, d, q, those with open parts. You set the margins by hand with a little sliding thing and when it reached close to the right side margin, you would hear a little "ping", letting you know you had maybe 4-5 more letters before it froze up. That meant you had to manually slide the big lever attached to the roller on the left, placing it at the left margin before you could type a new line.

I hadn't used a typewriter for many years and had occasion to use one for work one time on a marriage license. Good grief. You have to deliberately PUNCH each key down to make it work. I felt like a wimp. My favorite typewriter in high school was the IBM Selectric. It had a little interchangeable ball that had all the letters etc on it. Instead of needing keys to strike, this little ball zipped around and did that work. We thought it was near-magical. We had no correction tape, no delete, edit, move, cut, copy, or paste options. There were two kinds of fonts (pica and some other kind) and you had to physically change out the ball to change the font.

Before Xerox or Whiteout came along, we had duplicating machines. These had a container of rubbing alcohol attached to the top, upside down, so it could somehow blend with the carbon paper and make copies. This is not the same carbon paper as kids use to make images. This was the kind with the white front and purple back. If you had a typo, you had to unroll the paper, making sure it didn't slip or come all the way out, use a razor to scrape off the typo, roll it back in and make the best repair you could. At BYU we had a mimeograph machine that was a royal mess to use. You put some tar-like ink on top of the master and rolled it over the pages. It's benefit was that you could print thousands of copies from the mimeograph while you could only get a couple hundred out of the carbon kind. No electric staplers or sorters either, just staff members. The help button in our high school typing class was Mrs. Frederickson, the teacher.

This little ditty, The Typewriter Song, might give you some idea of how it was, though there was no cheery little music playing along in the background:


Friday, September 9, 2011

Windchimes and Lawn Mowers

I love windchimes. Some people hate them. Such is life. I can't help it if people are weird :o) My neighbor, Carolyn, had a wonderful big windchime that went bong bong bong, in a low tone. I told her how much I enjoyed hearing its soothing sound. (Had it bonged constantly, I would have felt differently.) Another neighbor complained to her about how annoying it was and next thing I knew, here was Carolyn standing on my doorstep with a gift...her windchime. I put it outside my back door and considered myself one lucky duck.

When my granddaughter came to live here, we had a few nights of canyon breezes, and the bonging scared her so much that she spent the nights wide-eyed, like Calvin and Hobbes waiting for the boogey man under their bed. So, unfortunately, my windchimes are resting in the shed for another day.

This all comes to mind because I need to mow my lawn. Here's how that ties together.

We had purchased probably three lawn mowers in five years. The salesmen, of course, always say how wonderfully the mower starts up at the first pull. Invariably, sometime the next year, I'd end up all but pulling my arm out of the socket trying to make the thing start.

When I was a teenager, we had an electric lawn mower. It did, indeed, start the first time every time. The problem was that you had to flip the blankity blank cord over the mower every single round! I tied enough knots to make a boy scout jealous trying to keep that cord plugged into the mower, to no avail. It was the one time (back then) that I allowed myself to swear. This was done at the same time I was beating the cord over and over on Grandma's fence post.

About this time of year, maybe five or six years ago, I became near-apoplectic over the latest machine, which had sucked the cord back into itself like a Jack Benny penny and would not relent one iota. No idea if I was swearing then or not, but it's possible. Right then and there, I made the judgment call, got in my truck, and drove directly to Lowe's. While in the mower aisle, I noticed they were playing music, windchime music. How relaxing and amazing is that? Then I went to Sears. Guess what??? They were playing the same music!!! My first thought was what a coincidence! Then it dawned on me that maybe some big corporation, possibly Coca-Cola or Pepsi, owned BOTH Lowe's and Sears. It could happen, you know.

Meanwhile, after driving home carefully with my new acquisition, I went in to get some help unloading it. Nik said, "Mom, why don't you ever answer your phone?" I said, "What do you mean? I didn't hear my phone ring."

Then I remembered.

Nik knew how much I loved the sound of windchimes and had given me a set years before, so when I recently purchased my cell phone, I programmed it to have a tinkling windchime sound when he called...

You can guess the Rest of the Story.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Grandma's Coal Chute

(I have retyped this blog entry three times and cannot get it to format right, so "it is what it is.")

Clunkers? Clinkers? Apparently it's clinkers, though the only clinks I've heard mentioned are the ones like hoosegows, the kind bad guys were "thrown" into in the Wild West. Clunkers are old cars/things that either don't run or just barely run...Cash For Clunkers. You might say the grand old car John Candy drove in Uncle Buck could be a clunker. Others might call it a "classic."
I don't think anybody would call it a clinker.

What started this line of thought is a mystery, but somehow I got thinking about Grandma Rice's coal chute. There was a little room in her basement, next to the wringer washer & tub area, with a door of its own. There must have been a furnace beast in there somewhere, but I have no recollection of it at all. It borders on my vision of hell.

I do remember the magical-looking chute on the north side of her home, at basement level. How the loads of coal got transported from the yard to the chute is anybody's guess, but I'd guess my dad. The fence wasn't movable, so anybody unloading coal had to probably use a wheelbarrow and make ten trips.

My family's coal was stored west of our house in a pile. There were big hunks on down to the slack coal, which basically nobody wanted to mess with. During the worst of the winter, you brought in two buckets of coal; by the end of the day, what was left were clinkers..."The incombustible residue, fused into an irregular lump that remains after the combustion of coal"

Well do I remember the Nasty North and Wicked West windy days that forced the coal soot back down the chimney and into the house, gagging us all and filling the house with big billows of black smoke. More work for Mother. We had two coal stoves, one in the kitchen for cooking and heating bricks and dad's feet in between chores on frigid winter days, and the Warm Morning one in the living room. When the coal in the kitchen stove burned down, we'd dig out the clinkers and take them outside. It runs in my mind, though it could be phantom memory, that there was an old hook with a long handle, like the ones we used to catch chickens by their legs, that was used to "fish out" clinkers from the Warm Morning, but I never had to do that, so who knows? Clinkers were a real drag. They were scratchy and uneven and you had to take them outside to put into another pile that either magically disintegrated or got hauled off, probably by Dad.

One of the funnest experiences I've had with coal did not involve making eyes for snowmen. There were 30 kids or so in our class at West Side High. Somebody came up with the idea of us unloading a train car of coal, by hand, for a fund raiser. On the appointed day, about 14 of us reported for duty with our shovels. I remember Kenny Kendall, Robert Bingham, Randy Howell and I (and probably others) working our buns off for several hours unloading that big car of coal. It was a memorable experience, and those who participated probably still remember it as a satisfying experience, though not necessarily one they'd like to repeat. Also, I have no idea where the $90 went.

Coal starts out as leafy compost. Block out the air, add some pressure and let it simmer for ages. The longer it simmers, the harder the coal. The harder the coal, the hotter the burn.

Graphite, used often on bicycles and pinewood derby cars, is a type of coal.

Coal is the official state mineral of Kentucky, even though coal is not a mineral, and is the official state rock of Utah.

"China is by far the largest producer of coal in the world and relies on coal for about 70% of its energy needs. An estimated 5 million people work in China's coal-mining industry. At some place in Tajikistan, coal deposits have been burning for thousands of years, creating vast underground labyrinths of unique and beautiful minerals. Wild coal fires were reported by Lewis & Clark. In Centralia, Pennsylvania, an exposed vein of coal ignited in 1962 due to a trash fire in the landfill. Attempts to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful, and it continues to burn underground to this day."

Australia exports more coal than any other country in the world, followed by Indonesia. Japan, China and South Korea are the biggest importers.

The current price of coal is $30-50 a ton, depending on the quality. The current price of a cord of wood (4'x4'x8') runs roughly $150. Harder wood goes for more.

My suspicion is, if you plan to stock up on either coal or wood, now would not be too soon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

WHIFFIES

Even though there are at least 8 partial boxes of different kinds of cereal on our shelf at any given time, requests are still made for one we don't have. Talon reminded me that the Fruity Pebbles were all gone, which I actually thought was a good thing, but what do I know?

It's interesting how you can walk up and down the cereal aisle three times and not spot the one particular brand you are looking for, or you can spend as much time trying to decide what kind of cereal to get this time. You'd think a family could decide on one...say Cheerios for instance. That's my choice almost every morning. I'm talking the regular kind, not the Honey Nut ones, which strangely enough, I find too sugary. There are also Multi-Grain, Apple Cinnamon, Banana Nut, Chocolate, Cinnamon Burst, Frosted, Fruity, Oat Cluster Crunch and Yogurt Burst Cheerios, though I won't run out and try these, either. I'm a stick in the mud when it comes to Cheerios. Kyle likes Honey Nut Cheerios, and one time I was trying to make room for more cereal so I dumped one partial box into another partial box, not noticing they weren't exactly the same. Big mistake...which I discovered the next morning as soon as the first spoonful hit my mouth. Ick.

When I was a kid, I used to like puffed rice cereal (not to be confused with the kind you use to make Rice Crispy Treats), the almost-without-flavor kind that look like grains of white rice right before they might explode. How they do that is a mystery. Anyway, my dad used to call them "Whiffies". He said that was because there was no food value in them whatsoever and any energy you might get from them was gone in a whiff; hence the name. I was probably 30 before I learned they were called puffed rice.

Today I perused the entire cereal aisle, box by box and sack by sack. No Whiffies. What is this world coming to???

Monday, August 15, 2011

Top Secret

Since the big brother who had been babysitting Talon got a new full-time job, Dayna has been bringing Talon over here weekdays for Teelay to "watch" until school starts. It's more than just babysitting; it's an education in last-child psychology to spend time with Talon.

At the moment he's still asleep on the couch where he collapsed after they dropped him off this morning. But here's what went on one day last week.

I decided he had had enough tv and computer time and needed some outside activity. Teelay had raked together a bunch of leaves out back, so I got out some gloves and told him we needed to go out and put the leaves in big bags. He said, "What do I win?" I told him, "The satisfaction of doing a good job."

After we got done, I came in and made him a tuna fish sandwich, since his mom says that's what he likes. He ate the whole thing and said it was so good, he would like another one..."Only, this time, Grandma, please leave off the crust."

My favorite was when he came in with a big piece of purple construction paper, covered with writing in big black letters. He was explaining it to me, step by step (like Grandma Rice), this "secret recipe" for pizza that he had written down from some internet Egyptian game site. Here it is:

Top. Secarate Resipe
One 1/2 cup of milke
8 kolometers of khiken and
6 drops.of.bakan.
8. pieses.of.peprone.and.
rolles.and braed.

So, if I can just find a pan big enough to throw in that 8 kolometers of khiken, we can have that for lunch today :o) Feel free to copy it. You can't have too many secarate resipes.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Little Winegar

No, not vinegar, if you read that a bit too fast. It's Winegar, my Grandma Rice's maiden name. Grandmas can do or say anything and still remain magical. And thank goodness for that!

I used to meander over to her house next door every day to visit, sometimes more than once. It was a good setup. She never got tired of telling stories and I never got tired of hearing them. One was the story about her brother, Clarence, and the pig thing. She also told me about some Roman cows her dad (William Wesley Winegar) had. I knew about Holsteins, Herefords, Charolais, Jerseys, Angus, and even Texas Longhorn cows and could name the four stomachs of a cow (still can), but it took me sometime to realize she was talking about some roamin' cows her dad had; the rest of the story escapes me.

Another great tale Grandma told was Episode 2 of My Brother Clarence. I'm not really sure which grandpa it was who provided Clarence with enough weapons to be a contestant on Top Shot, but good old Grandpa-What's-His-Name gave Clarence a BB gun when he was about eight or ten. I'm guessing it was sometime after the knife episode. That would mean Grandma was about six or eight.

Grandpa Winegar had a colorful prize rooster. One day when their dad was gone, Clarence brought out his new BB gun and challenged Grandma to shoot the rooster. She knew she couldn't possibly hit it, and to keep him from any other creative ideas, she just raised the rifle and made a random shot. They both saw the rooster do a big back flip and nosedive into the field. (Neither of them had realized they were related to Annie Oakley.)

Clarence was speechless at first, as was Grandma, until he had her make a pact to never ever say a word about it to anyone! She immediately agreed and told me that they never mentioned it during his lifetime. But she does recall her dad saying over and over: "I wonder where my prize rooster went!"

I don't recall the full story but she did say that one time she had a deep cut from a scythe (this is where Clarence would get the blame whether he did it or not). She said it was bleeding a lot. She had an uncle there who was a tobacco chewer. He spit out a big blob and slapped it on her finger and told her to leave it there. Apparently, it's true that the same thing that can eat your lip and throat away with cancer can also cure cuts. Maybe it has to do with timing. She became a believer, but as far as I knew, she never took up chewing tobacco.

She told of how the kids in the family would spend early summer hours out in the garden picking raspberries which their dad would then drive down from Farmington to Bountiful or Salt Lake to sell midday. The kids would get paid 1 cent for every basket full they picked, the same price my sibs and I got for cleaning off eggs to take to the Preston Co-op to sell or trade. So much for inflation.

Another thing about Grandma Rice. She was a World Class Worry Wart. She would call to see if we could get her some items when we went up to the store. We said yes and walked over to get the list and her purse with the little clasp. She had all the items written on a note inside the purse. She would remove the list and walk through it item by item just so there was no mistake. As soon as we would get back to our house, she would be on the phone seeing if we had arrived and have us read back the list to her. It was way annoying, but such is life.

Love you Grandma. You taught me everything I know about newspapers and vinegar.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Someone's in the Kitchen

Tee and I went to the store Monday to get stocked up on grub for the week. I told her to get what she wanted and would eat. We spent a good ten minutes just in the vegetable section, longer than I've spent there thus far this year.

She was asking me questions like "Where is the fresh basil?" I said, "Do they make fresh basil? Isn't that some kind of spice?" I learned that there are more than two types of vinegar (white and dark, one to clean the tub and one to make Christmas taffy). There is actually a product called balsamic vinegar. I have no idea what one would do with it. We got olive oil (that stuff is expensive!) and soy sauce, or something like that.

She got two each of three kinds of peppers. I have no idea their differences, but they do make the inside of the fridge pretty. She got eight tomatoes. What would one do with eight tomatoes if they're not making a batch of salsa? We bought a "clove" of garlic. What garlic has to do with cloves is beyond me. I thought it came in salt form to put on garlic bread.

We both sort of rolled our eyes :o)


Friday, June 24, 2011

The Promised Story, entitled: "This Explains A Lot"

The Difference Between Men & Women

Let's say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts. They have a pretty good time. A few nights later, he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when they are driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and without really thinking, she says it aloud: "Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?"

There is silence in the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Geez, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.

And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward...I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we headed toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Roger is thinking...so that means it was...let's see...February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer's, which means...lemme check the odometer...Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

And Elaine is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed--even before I sense it--that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of being rejected.

And Roger is thinking: And I'm gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It's 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600!

And Elaine is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry, too. Oh, I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure.

And Roger is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90-day warranty. That's exactly what they're gonna say, the scumballs.

And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly to care about, a person who seems to truly care about me...a person who is in pain because of my self-centered school-girl romantic fantasy.

And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a warranty! I'll take their warranty and put it you know where.

"Roger," Elaine says aloud.

"What?" says Roger, startled.

"Please don't torture yourself like this," she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. Maybe I should never have...Oh, I feel so..." (She breaks down sobbing.)

"What?" says Roger.

"I'm such a fool," Elaine sobs. "I mean, I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse."

"There's no horse?" says Roger.

"You think I'm a fool, don't you?" Elaine says.

"No!" says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.

"It's just that..it's that I...I need more time," Elaine says.

(There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.)

"Yes," he says.

(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.)

"Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?" she says.

"What way?" says Roger.

"That way about time," says Elaine.

"Oh," says Roger. "Yes."

(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)

"Thank you, Roger," she says.

"Thank you," says Roger.

Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn...whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better if he doesn't think about it. (This is also Roger's policy regarding world hunger.)

The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions but never getting bored with it either.

Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine's, will pause just before serving, frown and say:

"Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?"

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day

In honor of my dad on my first Father's Day without being able to send him a card, here are some of my favorite photos of him:










THANKS, DAD!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Day After the Night Before...

'Twas the first day of retirement, and all through the house,
Not a feline was stirring to track down a mouse.
The clothes were all flung on the floor without care,
No threat Martha Stewart would be stopping there.
The retiree was nestled all snug in her bed
While visions of nothing danced round in her head.
The pin that says “don’t work” clipped onto her cap,
She’d just settled down to begin a new nap
When out in the yard there arose a bird clatter.
She pulled up the covers, said “This doesn’t matter.”
Away to the shower in turtle-like flash,
She opened one eye,
Slowly peeked through one lash.
The sun through the pane of the window shone bright
And was so overpow’ring, she shut that orb tight.
When, what to her mind came a thought of such joy:
I don’t have to go to the office. Oh Boy!
With a little hair gel and some bottled-up tan
I took my own sweet time…Because I just can.
More rapid than eagles the morning flew by
As I rested and rested and rested…Oh my!
Now Shin Splints and Joint Aches and Stress-o-the-mind
Please give me a break, do. I ask you “Be kind.”
Then up to the bookstore the Pontiac flew
To browse through the paintings
And buy one or two.
Right then in a twinkling I got my first hunch
That it was ok to take me out to lunch!
Walked into my house and was turning around,
Saw the candy and lotions and flow’rs that abound;
My eyes, how they twinkled.
They knew I was free.
If my hair stands straight up,
It's nothing to me.
My lips are drawn up in a smile-like bow.
No more of those phone calls, with tales of sad woe.
No more chiseling ice off the windows each morn,
No leaving the kids all home looking forlorn.
“To do” lists lie waiting with no one to care.
Maybe I’ll do them…or they might stay there.
So, eating the brownies they sent home with me
And doing not one thing, particularly,
I’m not in a rush now; go everywhere late.
It is what it is…
And oh yeah, it is great!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Takin It Out...

Today is garbage day on our street.

In addition to the regular City rounds, Nik and I spent a good while today gathering up junk in the yard to take to the dump. We stacked up approximately one mountain & a half. It's amazing how stuff piles up, especially after a long, cold winter. It's also amazing to me how many rocks suddenly spring up from nowhere. The most amazing thing of all, however, is there are always snails out back. What are snails doing in the desert???   But, I guess if we can grow rocks, we can grow snails, right?

Today reminded me of a little happening from about three years back. I was on my way to work after lunch one day when I saw a little old man with a cane, (looked about my Dad's age) wrestling with one of those big, black roll-on-wheels garbage cans mandated by Orem about ten years ago. I pulled right over and stopped my car. Jumping out, I smiled and said "Here, let me help you with that!", grabbed hold of the garbage can, and started rolling it towards his house, cheerily asking him where he wanted it. He sort of didn't let go easily. I thought maybe he wasn't used to anyone stopping, let alone a female. He didn't know I'm a farm girl from ages past, right?

Finally he said: "Well, I was just taking it out to the road. So we maneuvered it back out to the road, and every time I pass his house now, it makes me smile. I've seen him a couple more times dragging that thing out, or in, or out. Can't tell for sure.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

This Mother’s Day, I decided to share some of my life-lessons, in hopes that the stepping stones in your own life aren’t as far apart as mine.

1-We all want “things”, but when it comes down to the wire, we would surrender them all just to have our loved ones by our side.
2-Take care of your body, better than you care for your car, or your kitchenware, or your gun. Feed it, water it, and rest it.
3-Tell your loved ones daily-- and out loud-- that you love them,
or they will think you don’t.
4-Take time for old & young. They give hope & faith to the world.
5-Count your blessings when you’re counting your troubles and you will realize that you’re better off than you thought.
6-Keep trying. Keep learning. Keep praying. Keep track of where your tongue is when you are angry or tired.
7-Serve in both small & large ways …and all the ways in between.
Christ meant it when he said “Even as you do it unto the least of these…you do it unto me.” And accept service when you need it.
8-When you find yourself up against a brick wall, don’t panic. Take a deep breath & chip out a brick or two. You don’t have to do it all at once.
9-Say you’re sorry, even sometimes when you’re right, then let it go. Good karma will circle back to you one day.
10-Do not let other’s actions or the news reports determine your course. A wise person doesn’t let interference draw their map.
11-Know that wherever you are, or how stressed or lonely you feel at any given moment, you are truly loved by someone who would miss you..
12-Take some time every single week to do something purely fun.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Rest of the Story

I kept yesterday's post humorous so as not to be a Doomsdayer blogger. My post today is informative, regarding something a lot of us use in our homes that might be causing health issues.

For some time I've used those little Air Wick sprayers where you can pre-program the automatic sprays, 9 minutes, 13 minutes, 30 minutes, something like that. Well, I decided to get a smaller one to put in the spare room I'm organizing so Sherry and her family can have a comfortable place to sleep while they're here. Kyle and I spent sometime trying to figure out how to get the little set working. Nothing happened. It wouldn't spray out a thing. We even removed the batteries that came with the unit and put in ones I had just recharged. I put it in my car, thinking I'll just run in next time I'm near Kmart and exchange it for one that works. That would have been about a week ago.

A day or two later I got in my car and wondered if something had spilled out on the floor...lotion, maybe perfume, something. The odor wasn't really awful, but it wasn't what you'd want to wear, either. The next day it was worse, and I thought maybe it was the light bulbs also in the back seat waiting to make their way to the recycle store.

I checked daily to see if my radiator or air conditioning fluids had been seeping inside the car. I checked my spray-off-the-ice stuff. I even checked out the actual car deodorizer spray (spells like oranges). It was only Wed morning when I had to drive to Lehi to the dentist's office, with all the windows down and the heater on, that I realized it was that Air Wick thing in the front seat causing all the trouble. I locked it in the trunk inside a plastic bag and finally threw it in the garbage, though it pained me to release such a thing into the environment.

I had felt sick every time while riding to work, to lunch, back from lunch, home from work. Nights were worse. I felt like I was being poisoned, which was exactly what had been happening.

I developed a horrible dry cough, nausea, just feeling crumby and tired, smelling it, tasting it wherever I went. It felt like shards of glass were in my lungs. I tried rest, humidifier, drinking water water water, prescription Aleve for pain, and after I threw the thing out, it stopped getting worse.

Wed and Thur were terrible, where you feel like somebody should just come take you to the hospital please, but you don't because the co-pay is just scary. I had a doctor appointment with my regular doctor Friday Morning. He did testing, listening, demonstrating a little breathing apparatus and said: "It didn't turn into pneumonia, though it could have, so you're lucky. You have chemical burns in your lungs. I don't know how long it will take them to heal, but stay away from those types of products."

He was going to start me on a round of steroids, but I told him those "are from the devil himself. Thanks, but no thanks."

Each day is getting a bit better, and a weekend to rest has helped.

I'll be looking through my house to see what other items we have that can be dangerous, not to us, but to the environment as well.

So that's my story...to keep our eyes out for things that don't look like they could hurt us, but under certain circumstances can indeed poison us and cause permanent damage. Be careful of any chemical spray and dispose properly of anything that malfunctions or acts differently than you think it should.

oh, and ps. I lived to see another birthday.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

350 Degrees

That's the general cooking temperature at this altitude.

My mother used to put her store-bought bread in the oven, space being limited and all. I cannot tell you how many times I was baking cookies and preheated the oven without remembering mother's storage place. It was surely in the dozens. Every time I would be reminded by the smell of burning plastic. No matter how quickly you move to open that oven door, it's too late. Once that plastic starts melting, you can't save one slice of bread, and it smells up the kitchen for the rest of the day...not counting the fact there's no bread now. We just should have put a big sign right on the oven door, maybe hanging from the knob, as a reminder. Either that or found some other place to put the bread. Sorry, Mom.

For years I always wanted a big stuffed dog (not real). One year one of the kids gave me a huge fluffy stuffed sheep dog, grey and white. I was SO excited! It was about half as big as the real thing.

One day I preheated the oven to make cookies. A bit later there was this atrocious smell, like burning tires, only in the kitchen. Not long afterwards, I discovered that Kyle, probably 3 or so, had put my puppy in the oven. At first we didn't recognize it, because it looked like a burned hunk of coal about the size of a loaf of banana bread. It was pitiful.

No wonder I gave up cooking. The world is a safer place, no doubt.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hide and Go Seek...

I assume kids still play this game, not the version with babies where you play "peek a boo," nor the one where kids hide under the covers with their foot sticking out and think you can't see them. This is the more serious game.

Our neighbors directly to the north through the field, were the Williams, a wonderful family. They had two older boys, then Dwight and Anna. Dwight was a year or two older than I and Anna somewhat younger.

One day we were playing this game in their yard, and Anna was "It." They had a garage out back of their house that actually used to be a home. Dwight had a great idea for a place to hide. He led me to the kitchen in this old home and showed me my hiding place...an old flour storage drawer that would tip out from the top when you pulled the handle. I can't think of what to compare it with and doubt they make them anymore. They used to dump a big bag of flour into it, probably 25 pounds, because everybody baked back then and they needed it handy.

Anyway, he somehow talked me into squeezing into this bizarre bin, shut the drawer and then hopped up into the top shelf of the cupboards and locked himself in somehow, on purpose mind you. We heard Anna come outside and call our names for several minutes. Boy, did we fool her! She didn't even get close to our hiding place. Her heart not really being into the game, she got tired of looking and went back inside the main house. She probably thought we had run away and left her alone, like older siblings do sometimes.

A few minutes later I told Dwight that I needed to get out of there real soon (being cramped in like a sardine, knees and elbows bent) He said he was having "a bit of a problem." The lock to his location was very tight and he couldn't reach it. I tried and tried and tried and tried to throw my body forward enough to tip the drawer open but couldn't use my bent arms to grab anything, so the drawer just fell back into place over and over and over and over.

He tried to cheer me up by saying he'd keep working on it, and his parents should be home in a bit. After what felt like HOURS but was probably half an hour, we heard his parents arrive. They got out of their car and were talking to each other. Both of us yelled over and over at the top of our lungs, HELP! HELP! HELP! HELP! They heard voices and came searching.

After they helped me out, I ran home as fast as my bent body would let me, didn't even stop to say "bye" or "thanks for the fun". I also didn't want to wait around for any whopping Dwight may have gotten. He was pretty tough, though. He used to run all the way through the hayfield barefoot, even over rocks and fencing. Very bright kid. He actually became an emergency room doctor. Maybe he felt like he wanted to spend his life trying to save people's lives to make up for the time ours came close to ending. (If you ever read this, Dwight, it's ok. I've long since forgiven you HA and hope you didn't get a whopping after all :o)

Kids! It's lucky any of them survive.

Monday, March 28, 2011

About 90 Degrees

Our old house in Clifton had (still has) a very steep roof; if it isn't 90 degrees, it's not much less than that. Many years ago, sections of it had to be repaired. Lorraine and Pauline were probably grown by then, so that would put me around 13 years of age. That's the only reason I can think of why my dad would ask someone as terrified of heights as I am to assist him with this job. Now, when my dad, on rare occasion, asked for direct help, you immediately understood that you were honored to be asked to help (Huh, Bill?) That fact aside, you knew he'd be out there doing it on his own anyway if you had ever thought to say no, which you wouldn't.

I remember he had us wear those zip-up coveralls, so clothing would have less chance of getting caught on something and hurting us. I remember him nailing several 2x 4's horizontally on the roof for some foot leverage here and there. No doubt we climbed up via ladder, but I don't remember that part. He gave serious instructions, such as "if the hammer starts to fall, don't move to go after it. We can get it later." He told me to lay against the house and stick to it as closely as possible while sliding my feet along the board slowly. Duh. You couldn't have scraped me off with a Bowie knife. The only way to do this was to flatten your coveralled-self against the roof like a big bug on a windshield, use your hands to find missing tiles and somehow nail them to the roof.

N E V E R * L O O K * D O W N!

It might have only taken us an hour or so to do this, and I'm sure he would liked to have done a better job, but somehow we finished the repairs and climbed down safely. As far as I know, no one has repaired it again. A couple of years later, he needed some help building the milk room out of galvanized steel. The nails for that had heads covered with some fairly soft metal. He could get one in with one or two whaps. I beat those heads to a pulp every time. He would get them in perfectly at the right angle. I mainly learned how to pull them out and try again. He nailed up at least 20 to my 1. It would have been easier for him if he'd sent me to do some other farm thing, but that probably wasn't the point.

He was very impressed with my tenaciousness in tearing down the old chicken coop and calf areas. Once he blew the permission whistle, I spent hours each day sledge-hammering it, pulling it, kicking it, bending it, dragging it, pounding on it, etc. That coop represented to me the evil of bullying. Some poor little chicken would get their drink from a place that iced over in the winter, and the ice would stick around one chicken's neck, pulling off some feathers. Then the other chickens would sense the weakness and come pick at the the poor thing til it got weaker and just died. With every yank, I remembered that injustice and wanted to make sure that that would not happen again, at least in one place in the world. No more bullying!

Also, there is not enough money in the entire world to get me back up on a rooftop.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Gruffs

I would often tell my Dad fairy stories, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, the Three Red Riding Hoods...oh wait, only ONE Red Riding Hood. He acted like he hated those stories, which just made me tell the longest versions possible. One of those stories was The Three Billy Goats Gruff. (Read through to the end for a surprise.)

This is where the youngest Gruff kid would cross the bridge, "Trip, trap, trip, trap!" over the bridge.

"Who's that tripping over my bridge?" roared the troll .

"Oh, it is only I, the tiniest Billy Goat Gruff , and I'm going up to the hillside to make myself fat," said the billy goat, with such a small voice.

"I'm coming to gobble you up," said the troll.

"Oh, no! Please don't eat me. I'm much too little," said the billy goat. "Wait a bit til the second Billy Goat Gruff comes along. He's much bigger."

"Well, be off with you," said the troll.

A little while after that came the second Billy Goat Gruff to cross the bridge.

Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap, over the bridge.

"Who's that tripping over my bridge?" roared the troll.

"Oh, it's the second Billy Goat Gruff, and I'm going up to the hillside to make myself fat," said the billy goat, who hadn't such a small voice.

"I'm coming to gobble you up," said the troll.

"Oh, no! Don't eat me. Wait a little til the big Billy Goat Gruff comes. He's much bigger than I."

"Very well! Be off with you," said the troll.

Just then along came the big Billy Goat Gruff .

Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap! over the bridge, for the billy goat was so heavy that the bridge creaked and groaned under him.

"Who's that tramping over my bridge?" roared the troll.

"It is I! The big Billy Goat Gruff," said the billy goat, who had an ugly hoarse voice of his own.

"I'm coming to gobble you up," roared the troll.

"Well, come along!" said the Biggest Billy Goat Gruff (In today's vernacular, that would be "Bring It!") Then the biggest Billy Goat Gruff charged the Troll, knocking him into the air with his big horns, where the Troll landed in the river and was never seen again! (The End)

*****
On my parent's farm in Clifton, there is a REAL troll bridge. No, not a toll bridge...a troll bridge. I couldn't tell you exactly where, as I've repressed that memory. Jason and Jared used to go to Clifton for a couple of weeks in the summer to "help" on the farm. They also have passed over this authentic troll bridge, with their Grandpa. Jared and I were discussing this a few nights ago. You would have to pass through a barbed-wired fence up behind the barn (going West) and follow Dad, who would soberly point out upon crossing the bridge, that we should stick close to him so as not to be attacked by the Troll who lived under there. He would have us look down under the bridge, and sure enough, the evidence was gripping. There under the bridge were piles of bleached bones, a scary sight even in the middle of the day.

Who knows how long it was until we found out that Dad was pulling our legs. That spot was where he deposited dead farm animals. There are probably bones lying in place under that bridge at this very moment.

I still half believe there may be a real troll wandering the hills of Clifton even to this day. He's probably hanging out with Big Foot west of town. Keep your eyes open!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Violets

I'm a fan of all types of violets.

Grandma Rice had a prolific bunch of African violets growing in her "north window". They were big plants with beautifully-colored blossoms. In fact, every time I see an African violet, I think of her. Over the years, I've probably bought ten plants and never got one to live for even a month, but I keep trying; same thing with kites and those bottles of bubbles for kids. Every time I swear 'I am not buying them ever again", but they keep making me a liar. One of our judges has a gorgeous selection of African violets. I asked her the secret, and she said you need to put them in containers made just for African violets, something like a double-potted arrangement. Of course, they're by her window on the north side of the building....

Grandma also had some tiny little violets growing around the bottom of her big bushes outside the "east window." She told me that the more you pick them, the faster they grow. That's probably not a scientific fact, and it's possible she hated them and wanted them gone, but I picked them regularly and they kept coming. They smelled as wonderful as her lilacs. She had two shades of purple lilacs and one white lilac bush. Oh my, they were fabulous! We used to put the little single lilac flowers up to our noses and inhale as long as possible (no doubt a well-developed skill from Dad's "breathing game.") As long as you sucked in, the little flowers stayed in place. Also, they had a little sweet flavor at the base of the bloom. Hummingbirds probably dreamed of visiting Grandma to taste that sweetness. She also had some Lilies of the Valley, which were fascinating.

Mother used to grow what she called Johnny Jump Ups. I thought they were baby pansies and didn't realize they were actually violets until I got some at Lowe's one year. They were beautiful all summer...and fall...and winter. They were almost indestructible. They stayed in bloom through several snowstorms. One January, they were still there and the weather hadn't been up to past freezing for weeks. I wondered if they were some psycho plant come back to haunt me. Finally they gave up, so I bought some more the next year. They shriveled and died. None of them Jumped Up at all.

The flowers that seem to do well in this soil are marigolds and petunias. They're beautiful together and flower the whole summer. Both of them smell yucky, but that's what roses are for, right?

Must have spring fever!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hello, Goodbye

403 number lights up on the screen of my cell phone...it's on vibrate since I'm at work, but for some reason I happen to glance up and recognize the Canadian prefix... my daughter calling me at 11:00 a.m...is there a problem...?

I answer...

"Hello?"
"Hi, Grandma."
"Is this Carver?"
(I wonder if he is fiddling with Mom's phone.)
"Yes."
"Well, hi Carver."
"My tooth came out."
"Really, the bottom one or the top one?"
"The bottom one." (Taylor in the background "I WANNA TALK TO GRANDMA!")
"Well, how neat. Are you going to put it under your pillow?"
"I already did."
"What happened?"
"Nothing yet.
Bye Grandma."

Just like his great-grandpa Rice. As the story goes, my dad would call my mother at her work before they were married, hear her say hello, say "seven" and then hang up.

:o)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

On A Roll Now....

You know how things you can't remember bug you like crazy for days at a time til you find the answer? You do that reverse-psychology thing where you pretend it doesn't really matter, and then it comes back to you in the middle of the night? That's what has been happening with me trying to remember the table cloth fabric that was used to line the apple-basket for the laundry, although it hasn't come back to me yet. No doubt the cloth was used to lengthen the life of the wooden basket as well as to protect the clothing from any stains from the wood; it might even had some bug-prevention function. It was always gawdy with big fruit or flowers on it, but wallpaper and carpets and clothing were like that, too, probably an attempt to brighten up something, at least.

Well, anyway, I gave up trying to find it anywhere online and tonight called Hancock Fabrics. The young lady said they carried such a fabric and I asked her the name of it. She said it was flannel-backed vinyl. I know that is not what it was called "back when", and it runs in my mind (with many other random things) that it was made from some oil-based product. Does anyone know the original name of the fabric? You'd be doing a great public service, curing insomnia, etc. (It finally dawned on me that Pauline would probably know, so I called her. SHE KNEW! IT'S CALLED OIL CLOTH! Duh.) Thanks again, Sis!

I also remember a product called Ritz Dye which was sold at the grocery store, Sprouse Reitz, and probably Kings. It was less than a buck, and as far as I know, was not worth that. Nothing turned out the color on the package. Colleen and I tried it a few times and never found it to be anything but a swamp product. Here's the interesting thing. They still sell the stuff! There are probably people who find it their favorite product of all time. Good for them, because it wasn't me and Colleen who kept the business going.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesdays...iron

Update: I pulled out my bottle of bluing this afternoon. It's a Mrs. Stewart's (unsmiling pioneer-looking woman) "standard of excellence since 1883" brand made in Bloomington, Minnesota. It contains 8 oz of "concentrated liquid bluing, non-toxic and bio-degradable". A few drops are all that are needed and "water should appear a light sky-blue color." Wow, it says it can be used in swimming pools, bird baths, for white hair and pets, for cleaning crystal and glass and more! It also says it can be used for science projects, scout troops, school rooms and family fun! (My guess is somebody added that and the toxic/biodegradable stuff way after Mrs. Stewart passed away to a laundromat in the sky.)

It's hard to believe now, thinking back, that laundry occupied two entire days of my mother's schedule every week, but it did. That's between cooking, washing dishes, mopping floors (especially in the winter when, if you opened the South door, the soot came back down the chimney and puffed throughout the kitchen), making bread, changing all the wallpaper every other year, raising a big garden, helping with the farm, serving her church, shopping, sewing, mending socks over a light bulb, mowing the huge yard, etc. The etc was no cinch, either.

By Tuesday, the clothes were either gathered from the line out back in the summer, or from clothes racks inside the house, in the winter. (Randy Howell and I often raced back and forth between the clothes rack while Mother ironed. We must have been as small as miniature collies back then...and as flexible as that Asian actor in Mission Impossible. It would indeed be an impossible mission these days.)

Mother would sprinkle water on the clothes (in those lined fruit baskets) prior to ironing, supposedly to help decrease the wrinkling. Keep in mind that absolutely nothing was made out of anything but cotton back then, so everything was ironed, including sheets, pillowcases, levis and handkerchiefs. Maybe towels and washclothes escaped. They were always considered "fresh" when they were hung out to dry. I don't blame the women, because it was one less thing to do. I'd have pretended to like the "freshness", too...maybe even come to actually like it, all things considered. We let Mother do almost all the ironing, but could sometimes be talked into "helping" iron some square things, like the pillowcases and handkerchiefs. I remember when she got some of those metal levi-shaper things you shoved down the leg, then stretched a bit to give the pants some shape...happy day!

Which is PRECISELY why I do NONE of these things in my own home. I loathe crispy "fresh" face-scraping towels and truly believe there is no such thing as a bath towel too luxurious or soft.

If someone said one word about their levis not being ironed, they wouldn't say it twice, there being an iron stuffed in their face. Last night Kyle and I were talking about Thurl Bailey's suit-pocket handkerchiefs. I said something about them never being used. He said, "Why would anybody use a handkerchief? How gross! Use a tissue."

You see, there has been progress over the decades in this 2-day laundry thing. First of all, they've developed fabrics that don't need ironing, even melt if ironed. It's a fairly well-known fact that if a shirt comes out of the dryer wrinkled, you just rinse it and throw it back in, maybe with a wet towel. Wash it a third time if you have a bad memory or busy schedule. If it gets to be too much work, well, Folks, it just ain't worth it. Hang it in the back of your closet or pass it on to someone who loves to iron. Or start a new style, like the corncob skirts.

I remember a college student dressed to the T, or the 9s (that means very well, to you younguns".) He gave a 2 1/2-minute talk (yes, those used to exist) about how things can appear to be something they aren't. The only other thing I remember is that he took off his jacket, and the part of the shirt that showed when he wore the jacket, still looked perfect. The rest of the shirt was trashed. So, men, you might want to consider giving an impromptu talk if you're ever caught in this predicament. Or, you could invest in one of those wonderful Mr. Mac wrinkle-free white shirts. Or wait til Thurl has a yard sale.

Anyway, hat's off to the women of yore! You taught all us other women that washers and dryers and dryer sheets are as important as toothbrushes.

And, Mother, I truly apologize.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday...wash

For much longer than one childhood, every Monday was the day Mother did the laundry. She would gather up all the clothes on a sheet on the living room floor, grab the edges and bundle it all up, Santa-like. If she had been a little kid with a gigantic nose and the sheet had been a huge handkerchief with a big stick through the bundle, she would have looked a lot like Snoopy running away from home, and it's possible she had those thoughts.

However, Mother didn't go too far. She trudged "across the yard" to Grandma Rice's basement to use her wringer washer. (It probably seemed a lot longer walk to her, since she was the one carrying the huge bundle.) She would transport the bundle down the stairs and start sorting the laundry into piles: white, lights, mediums, darks, then levis/coveralls.

Meanwhile, she filled up the washer with some Borax soap and water, then filled the two big metal sinks with clear water. The washer water was probably warm and the two rinse sinks cold. She would start with the all-white clothing, like blouses etc. She'd let them agitate a bit, then reach into the washer with a wooden stick and snare a piece of clothing, sort of like fishing without the fun.

There was a trick to shoving the clothes through the wringer part on top of the washer without causing it to come offline and mash a button, or your finger. In lieu of bleach, there was a liquid called "bluing" that you can still buy today, but nobody probably does, because a cup of it would "do" for probably thirty years minimum. It somehow either bleached a bit or just put a slight blue touch on the whites that made them look beyond normal white. I know Grandma used to use it in her hair as well, for that very white color.

After she ran a batch of clothes through the wringer, she put the clothes in the rinse tub, rinsed them around by hand and then ran them back through the washer to get out any soap left over. The whole thing is a bit confusing because we did not put ourselves out much by helping her do all this. (Pauline & Lorraine may recollect differently.) Then she started on the "lights" and finished on the "darks".

Sometime, after a batch or two was done, she dumped it all in the lined apple basket to carry over to hang out on the lines strung across the back of the yard for just that reason. Those wooden clothes pins were really used as clothes pins back then, so the laundry wouldn't blow away or fall off the line into the dirt. Sometimes we would hang out a load or two for her. In the winter, she did all the hanging out on the line. No need for us all to get our fingers all arthritic when she was so skilled at it.

Then she had to drain the washer, rinse down the sinks and make sure no water had escaped too far on the floor towards the water heater. All of this had to be done, of course, as fast as possible so as to be sure she had time to go prepare us a huge dinner.

In the winter the clothes would freeze-dry on the line before they were brought into the house to be put on racks or around the house to further dry. By the end of the day, the clothes were all cleaned and as dry as possible for tomorrow, TUESDAY...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Like Mother, Like Son

Kyle and I were sitting at the kitchen table a couple of nights ago. I was concentrating hard on making a birthday card for my granddaughter. Kyle was eating, or maybe texting.

Anyway, I asked him about something and he said, "Mom, you just asked me about that." I said, "No, I didn't." He said, "Yes, you did." I said, "No way, Jose."

In the next breath, he asked "Where's Swirl?" I said, "You just let her out a minute ago." He said, No, I didn't." I said "Yes, you did."

He opened the door and there she was ready to come back inside.

We were like Laurel and Hardy. It was a veritable human stalemate. Hopefully it's not too serious if we can laugh about it, right?

Maybe the new furnace is putting out too much carbon dioxide or something.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Speaking in Tongues

...or with tongues, or something...

Had a bit of computer trouble when I changed from one provider to another, such as the internet wouldn't connect, the DVD and CD drivers quit working, and the closed captioning on the tv didn't acknowledge off. Kyle was the more motivated of us two at the time, so I left it up to him to find a solution.

He gave it a few ineffectual tweeks, then called his computer-wise brother, Vince. He even bribed him with food. While Vince was working on it, one of Kyle's friends came over, Nick somebody. He's good at computers as well so pitched in to help. I'm not kidding about them speaking an entirely different language.

To me it sounded like: "Dude, have you tried hooking up the abcdkp245 cord to the modenality split? Google the website fix anything for the yada yada systems of the extreme sync connection gizmos and type in parallelay digitalis forum. Have you tried the variation on the easy tubular diagnostic phlanges? CD's are obsolete, no kiddin."

Something like that, anyway. They kept that up for probably half an hour at least, while they kept interspersing comments about how really nice it was to talk to somebody who understood tech support issues without having to have everything explained. I suspect they were possibly referring to other people present in the room. I did my own support of the techs and stayed on the couch reading a book and not trying to "help" them; any comments I made caused them to start chuckling, anyway..

Until we can contact Comcast Monday about a glitch in the motorola box thingey and/or the 50-button remote, I'll get along with the closed captioning which is in huge letters that vary from the top of the screen to the bottom and back. It's quite distracting, but it's ok, because not having watched tv much at all for a year, the whole thing is so IN YOUR FACE!! that I had to turn it off after a bit, anyway. It felt like an assault, and that was just the Home & Garden Channel.

I'm a simple person and am just happy to have the internet again. We will aim for the CD player repair and the captioning issues another day...Monday. I'll have Kyle take care of that, too.

I'm too old to care to learn a foreign language.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"It was a Dark and Stormy Night..."

Thursday after work, I drove up to Clifton. The weather has been bad since before Christmas, so I have been waiting to take Mother her Christmas pajamas and the memorial book about Dad.

Now, I spent almost two decades living in a small country town and was always comfortable being there, but you forget stuff over time...like how really dark nights are without the lights of the city. I noticed it around Brigham, and it became directly obvious as I drove up Sardine Canyon. By the time I passed Richmond, it was stone cold black out there. Coming over the hill from Dayton into Clifton, there is a long lonely stretch as well, and my only thought was "I just wanna be home." Less than a mile later, there it was.

I've missed my Dad these last several weeks, but never more so than when I turned into the driveway about 8:00 p.m. Thursday. He wasn't there to tell me it had snowed some, like 2 or 3 inches. He hadn't turned the lights on in case I came. He hadn't cleared me a nice spot to park close to the house. He hadn't melted the ice off the steps. That's when reality hit; he would never have let there be ice on the steps.

It's no surprise that my car, Miss Charlotte, being a "Southern Lady", is not used to icky weather; she's told me so before. I could tell she wasn't happy to have her little feet in the cold snow, but I didn't know she was going to throw that tantrum! I tried talking nice to her, making all sorts of promises, even rocked her back and forth...to no avail. She was like one of those old stubborn mules, going not one inch further. Lorraine came down and tried to help, but it was ridiculously cold and we were getting nowhere, so we did the only thing we could do. She went home and I went inside and turned up the thermostat, which had been set at 50. It felt warm right after coming inside, but you seriously don't even want the air conditioning to go that low even in the middle of summer.

Anyway, I was unpacking a few things for the night when I heard a noise, actually several noises. Then I thought I heard some guy say something, like 3 words. It was a little spooky, but I got a grip and found some Calvin & Hobbes books to read. I realized the noises were from the house expanding here and there from the heat. I was up late looking at pictures and stuff, sitting on the couch where Dad always sat to read, covered in the blanket Mother made, so cozy and warm. It was comforting.

People living in the country like the quiet, but when you are all alone, it's almost an uncomfortable LOUD quiet. I thought how hard it must have been for my dad to endure all those nights alone, one after the other after the other after the other. What a very long, lonely, dark, cold night. I'm glad he doesn't have to spend another winter that way, that he is now free to learn and continue to do good, to realize his worth and be warm and safe and not have to worry about everything, including pulling weeds and pushing snow, though he'd be first in line to volunteer.

It was a dual lesson. I had returned home after a long drive, but so has he. If there's any snow in Heaven, I'm sure he'll have a place cleared for me to park when it's my turn. :o)

Mother is doing ok. We had a good visit. She sends her love to all.

This song is a lovely tribute, parent and child:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-V3jBzGh8Y

and ps, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO CARVER YESTERDAY! Hope you had a fun party today! Love, Grandma Kay.