Friday, December 30, 2016

I See You. Can You See Me?

For surely more than a decade, my parents used to get a wonderful calendar the end of each year.  My recollection is that it was from a meat-packing place in Preston.  It runs in my mind that it was Hubbard's Meat Packing Plant but no research--including Pauline Who Remembers Almost Everything--lead me to any examples of it.

What use is an old calendar, right?  I'd pay good money for one of those old calendars right now. Trying to find anything on Google lead me to articles like "Raising a child with optic nerve hypoplasia" and "Chinese women's eyes after surgery" and "6 eye issues after 40".

The calendar always hung in the kitchen.  Each month had a different scene of an old cowboy either getting thrown off his horse, being denied at the bank, truck broken down, etc. There was a whole action-packed story spoken by each picture and hidden in each one was a little pair of hidden eye balls, sort of a"Where's Waldo" precursor.

Sometimes you'd find the little eyes in a horse hoof, under a saddle, in the radiator, under the chair, but they were always there. Whoever drew those pictures was a true artist indeed, as well as an entertainer. He should be world famous.

Thank you, Sir, whoever you are for all those years of joy!

Sunday, October 30, 2016


Sometimes I just get a craving for it.  It doesn't matter if it's morning, noon, or night. When I want it, I want it.  Bread and milk in a bowl.

There are different qualities of the cuisine. The best is with homemade bread, or at least homemade-like. We eat cereal in milk.  Cereal is made out of the same stuff as bread, right?

I read an article that said when there is a big storm coming, people flock to the store and buy bread and milk.  I'm sure they buy nails, visquine, and boards, too, but that's just to make a shelter in which to eat bread and milk.

There are people who put salt on their watermelon, so I know how objectionable thinking about certain food combinations can be. You can also get bread that's so poor in quality that it ruins the dish and turns it into a soggy mess.

And, bread and milk can be turned into toast and hot cocoa for dipping. There was a time when I dipped fresh bread into cold chocolate milk (thanks to those old Nestle commercials), but that doesn't sound very appealing now.

It think it's time I made a batch of bread...

Monday, July 4, 2016


I am babysitting Verna while Teddy is at his Aunt Anilda's. (Where he came up with that name none of us know.)

Meet Verna:
Verna stands two inches tall and is a small finger puppet.  

This is Verna's home: 
Verna has her choice of transportation: train, car, and motorcycle. She could have her own airplane if she requested it but she hasn't...yet.

You will notice that all of Verna's stuff is red, Teddy's favorite color.  Mine, too. 

Teddy was bereft that he had to leave Verna while he went to Aunt Anilda's house, so I offered to babysit.  He dried his tears and told me that she likes cheese and already had a nap. 

To be truthful, I'm not sure if I am watching Verna or she is watching me.  She doesn't say much.

Monday, March 14, 2016


I think I know what made my parents so tough, or maybe they were so tough they could suck on these gems (allegedly sweet, but that's an outright lie):

Mother always carried around a little container of Sen-Sens in her purse. They are touted as breath fresheners--not even 7th cousins once removed from a breath mint.  I added that second part. They were deceiving little buggers because they looked like little pieces of black licorice which I like. (Nik and I specifically like this time of year because of the availability of black jelly beans. The beauty is that nobody else around here likes them, so THEY ARE ALL OURS, YEAH!)

The given Sen-Sen ingredients listed are: licorice, gum arabic, maltodextrin, sugar, natural and artificial flavors.  Maltodextrin is listed as a type of fairly-tasteless glucose.  Gum Arabic doesn't sound like the culprit, so I'm guessing it's in the "artificial" flavors, the ones that taste like asphalt.

Sen-Sens came in a little cardboard box that had another little cardbox inside of it. You slid the inner box out (like a match box), revealing a little hole.  Once you shook the box, a Sen-Sen or two popped out. Wouldn't want any of those falling out on the asphalt. They later came in individual rip-open packets and were finally discontinued.  I won't grieve about that. No matter how many times Mother shared them with me, they never got one whit better. Bye bye, Sen-Sens.

Speaking of asphalt-tasting candies, Dad used to suck on  horehound "candy". I’d rather lick an all-day sucker made out of road than a horehound lozenge. It comes with a "distinct bittersweet taste". The flavor truly is distinct; I'll give them that. Being rolled in sugar only makes them worse somehow. Cracker Barrel still carries horehound candy. My guess is that's how they test the toughness of some of their customers.  There are actually online recipes for making your own horehound candy but I won't include a link.

Dad used to keep a stash of all kinds of candy, rewards after a long day's work.  By his couch he had a little container of white peppermint candies, then later pink ones like these:
Now those I really liked.  He later had to give them up after he developed an allergy to them.  As far as I know, he never gave up Altoids.

Monday, January 18, 2016


I say this to Nik and Sarah several times a week.  Write it down.  If you don't, you will never remember exactly how it went because the wording is what made it so cute in the first place.

For example, here are some Teddisms from the past year:

I was eating some jello with whipped cream on it. He had two bites of it without the whipped cream and came back for another bite.  I offered him some with whipped cream.  He put up his hand in a "hold off" position and said, "No, I need it clean!"

I just playing. Playing is fun.

Watching Frozen.  Anna is left in a cold room. Teddy looked at me and said, "That's a problem."

Papa, can we eat a pupcake?

Teddy, lie down and have a nap.  "I don't want to turn my eyes off."

While watching the bug zapper: "Watch that sound!"

Flying his toy satellite into the air, "See ya later, Earf."

Playing the Star-Warry parent game, Nik said: "This is my boy. I am his father." Teddy replied: "Excuse me. We can all share this boy."

The washer beeps over and over when the cycle ends.  We removed the clothes but it kept beeping.  Teddy said, "We already taked it out, Washer!"

Where is your airplane going to sleep?  "He won't sleep. Pointing to it eyes, he said, "These are just stickers."

I'm playing hide and go seek.  Where's me?

Teddy, did you take a nap?  "Almost."

Sliding across the floor, "Excuse me, but my socks are very slipperdy."

Cottage cheese is disgusting for my mouth.

Nik was talking to Teddy about the real meaning of Christmas.  He asked him, "Do you know who the real King of the world is?"  And Teddy didn't miss a beat yelling, "Captain America!"

Mama went into the bathroom.  Teddy said, "You locked the door? But you're leaving me behind!"

Friday, January 15, 2016

Part 2

My sisters were better gift idea people.

Pauline gave my dad the gift-to-end-all-gifts once, a Polaroid land camera!  It was about the size of a bread box and weighed a good 5 pounds.  The magical thing about it was that it would develop a black and white photo in only 60 seconds, almost as unbelievable as a vehicle ever going 40 miles per hour.  I cannot find a good picture of it, but this gives you the idea:  Feb 21, 1947 Edwin H. Land publicly demonstrated his Polaroid Land camera, which could produce a black-and-white photograph in 60 seconds.: Land Demonstrating, Instant Camera, Camera 1947, 1947 Edwin, Land Camera, Cameras, Demonstrating Instant
It took something like five or six steps from start to finish. A roll of film took 8 pictures and ran something like $1.00 a photo, a shocking price even in these days. Hopefully that camera is in a museum somewhere.  It was an amazing gift and could have been used as a dandy weapon if needed.

Another very nice gift Pauline gave my parents was a complete set of Cutco knives, circa 1960-ish. They were used several times a week for decades and looked as good as new after my parents passed.  I hope Pauline inherited them. They came in a dark brown color and were encased in a nice wooden case. Pauline knew how to buy good stuff and I think she was as happy about giving as the recipient was about getting, maybe even more.

Lorraine was more the artist giver.  She even painted a picture of Old Blue that hung in the "orange" bedroom for years.  My parents treasured a neat glass bird window hanging she gave them that shined beautifully in the sun on the west window.  It was very appropriate as that window was the one by the birdhouse my dad tended so faithfully.

Betty was the unique gift giver. I can't imagine how many hours she spent searching for near-one-of-a-kind gifts like the sand art in oil that gently followed gravity into an endless array of swishes.  It was as mesmerizing as watching a cobra dance, maybe more because there was no fear of dying painfully and immediately.

Another gift she gave them was an aqua-colored thing that had some aqua-colored oil essence in it.  You turned it upside down and big blue aqua bubbles dropped from the top, bubbles getting smaller and smaller and smaller as it shifted to the bottom.  We probably spent 100 hours of our lives studying that thing.  

On the table in the living room sat the piece de resistance, a temperature thing with more bubbles inside...kind of like this, only much fancier in recollection: 
I bought them a clock once, a white ship perched on the top, with an entire day's wages from substituting kindergarten.  As far as I know, none of us had ever been on a ship, but it had a wistfulness about it.  The only other ship thing in the house was a puzzle of a ship I put together that my parents framed and hung in their room. This from a girl who kept her eyes shut the entire time during the Perfect Storm movie and still had to stop on the way home to throw up.

The dumbest gift I probably ever gave them was a holstein cow toy. You put in some batteries under its stomach (yes, I know there are actually 4 stomachs in a cow and you would not believe how many times that has come up in trivia situations over the years), the cow would take four steps, stop, raise its head and MOO.  I can only imagine how excited my dad must have been to get a cow toy that actually talked.  I mean, seriously, he probably had tears in his eyes.

(The cow now sits in my curio but hasn't moo'd since the batteries died in the late 20th century.)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Gift Ideas

I've written before about my dad's monikered cows and his expertise with the flipper. What I've not mentioned is how gracious he was about gifts I gave him over the years.

Once as a kid, short on creativity, I asked my mother for a gift idea for Dad. She suggested handkerchiefs or carpenter pencils. Cowboys called them neckerchiefs. Motorcycle riders called them bandanas. Farmers called them handkerchiefs, and Dad was surely a farmer.

For probably ten years in a row my dad got either a blue or red handkerchief or a carpenter pencil from me for his birthday and Christmas, sometimes both. I remember wrapping the pencil inside a handkerchief even.  He always acted so surprised and so delighted, like he didn't have a stache of them all over the house and like he actually needed one that very day! Handkerchiefs lasted quite a long time even through weekly washing and ironing of the laundry. Sometimes they were even starched, though I can't think now why.

BUT, even if somebody went crazy with the knife used to sharpen those carpenter pencils by hand, they must have lasted virtually forever to a farmer. He might have found ways to use them twice a month tops. No doubt more time was spent sharpening them than using them to mark lines.  If he'd had time to think about it, he would probably have designed a small picket fence out of them.

Sorry, Dad, but thanks for being such a good sport!
Merona® Men's 2pk Bandanas - Assorted Colors - RedImage result for sharpened yellow carpenter pencil

(Part 2 on Friday)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

But It Looks So Pretty in the Picture!

One of the banes of our existence on the farm in Clifton were thistles.  We hated few things more.  I never stepped on any but they pained me nonetheless.

Few things are less romantic than hearing your dad say, "Girls, grab a shovel; it's thistle-killin time!"  (He didn't have to mention it if there happened to be a random thistle here or there in the lawn or the yard. We just knew instinctively to go dig those up.  Chances were pretty high he'd already cleared up most of them, anyway.)  Kosha weeds, voles, rattlesnakes, scorpions, hailstorms, thistles...all four-letter words and all spoken of in the same tone of voice on the farm.

We would grab our shovels and head out to the pastures, walking like human horizontal stripes in a search party which, in fact, we were.  We walked about 8-10 feet apart, just far enough to be able to spot everything between and swing a step or two to dig it out hopefully to include the roots.  They didn't get too high but were fairly prolific.  You dug them out, flipped over the shovel and lay the plant upside down, root to the sun, so hopefully it would die-die. My suspicions are that the roots just laughed at us and shot out another tentacle, but that didn't stop us from trying.

I once wrote my parents a poem about thistles, but it would take me hours to find.

This morning I discovered that Scotland is partial to thistles.  In fact, they revere them much as Utah does Seagulls. There is even a chivalrous honor called "Order of the Thistle".  Apparently, centuries ago the notorious Vikings were trying to sneak up on the sleeping Scots and had to go barefoot due to the terrain.  The Scots may have been able to sleep due to the fact they had inside intelligence, i.e. the hills were alive with thistles which caused the sounds of musical Viking screams as they traversed thistle-covered mountain sides.  Not a bad ploy.

Image result for scottish thistles