Friday, January 30, 2009

Wrapping up another Cold Week

We ought to quit being surprised when we have snow and other areas have dreadful ice storms. After all, it IS January - almost February already. But this week has been another one of those rollercoaster ones, with a variety of weather conditions - mainly Cold. A pretty snow closed the area schools on Wednesday, and gave the kids a great day for outdoor fun. One time, when we had a 'nice' snowfall, I made a snowman all by myself. This time I just settled for throwing several handsful of the white stuff at hubby while we cleaned snow off my car, so we could go grocery shopping.

I've been watching the conditions at airports in other areas, wondering if our friend was able to travel without delays or other problems. A gratefully received email mid-week assured me that she reached her destination safely and anticipated no return-trip problems.

This has been a good week for procrastinating - putting off doing things I should have completed before now. But with the excuse of 'staying warm', I snuggled up under a fleece throw and read.
I even brought home another couple of books from my shift at the book store, to add to the stack of waiting-to-be-read paperbacks. Hubby read me an article he found on the internet about the percentages of the population who read, or did not read, books and magazines. I was astounded at those figures. Being an avid reader, I can't imagine so many people professing to have read NO Books since they got out of school. Whether it's reading fiction for escapism, or non-fiction to increase one's knowledge, the world of books is so wonderful and so full of so many things!

I hope our granddaughter had a wonderful birthday in Paris. We'll be eager to hear about what she did to celebrate yesterday as she turned 23! Another friend's daughter will celebrate her birthday today in Scotland, where she now lives. The world has shrunk so much in our lifetimes, it's simply amazing. I just sent an email to our relatives in Hawaii. They'll find it on their computers in a matter of minutes - whether they respond or not. Regular letters in the mail would take several days to go that far !

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cold, and colder, weather

When the thermometer shows numbers under 30, as it did here all weekend, it creates a need for warmth. Creative cooking comes next - so we can find something that will warm us and 'stick to the ribs' at the same time. Instead of our usual lunch fare, hubby suggested a bowl of hot cereal. Good idea!

I chose Cream of Wheat this time, and started the process of cooking (no instant stuff for us !).

Stirring the bubbling mixture took me back to my childhood and memories of Mother's cream of wheat. That was soooo good, and full of little lumps. We always added sugar and butter (before oleo was invented), which was an extra bonus of taste.

Now the question is, How in the world did Mother manage to make lumpy cream of wheat? I have tried to re-create this delicacy, without any success. Those little lumps tasted so good, and made a spoonful of cereal even more interesting.

Maybe it's due to 'modern' processing, but no matter how I add the grains of cereal to the boiling water, it comes out smoothe as silk. No lumps ! I've tried dumping the raw stuff into the hot water - but that doesn't work either when I stir constantly - as directed on the package. Perhaps it was the old wood stove that Mother had to cook on in this old house. Maybe our electric stove gives off better, more even heat? I just don't know.

I dare say that no recipe in the world (or even on Google) would answer my question, since most cooks prefer the smooth over the lumpy variety of Cream of Wheat.

In the meantime, we sure enjoyed the warmth and stick-to-it-ness of the hot cereal on the cold day yesterday.

Friday, January 23, 2009


What a tumultous week this has been! The Inauguration coverage was fascinating and seemingly endless. I don't know how the new First Couple managed to stay alert and smiling during those long hours, and then hit the road running early the next morning. Ah... Youth!

An interesting video was shown at the women's club meeting this week, too -- an interview filmed last summer when the subject was at home for his father's funeral, from his position in Afghanistan. This young man works with a Christian outreach group in the Muslim country - in itself a hazardous occupation. He wore his Afghani outfit, and explained each part of it. He said he could not hide his origin, since in addition to his skin color, he has a little gray in his dark hair whereas Afghanis do not turn gray. Interesting! His descriptions of the conditions in that war-torn country added a lot to the film clips of native markets, roads and people.

The volunteer time at the Book Store was Busy! Several groups were meeting in the Library in conjunction with The White House Gardens exhibit and lecture series, and many of the attendees visited the book store to get a copy of the WHG Book.

Changing the subject and mood, today I visited a friend who is a patient at our local hospital. This 83-year-old gentleman has multiple health problems and is undergoing a series of tests to find a solution to his complete lack of swallowing ability. As a Type I diabetic, blood sugar balance with food and insulin is a high priority, which complicates everything even more.

In the past I have hesitated to visit patients in a hospital, theorizing that they would not be there if they weren't sick enough to need hospitalization, therefore they would not be able to receive visitors. I had learned, from another friend who was terminal, that she would like to have some 'peace and quiet' and wished that her large family would quit 'hovering'. ( From the family's POV, they wanted to be close to their loved one every mnute - which was quite understandable.)

When I had an 8-day stay myself (about 20 years ago), and I longed for someone to talk to. Family members came when they could, but many lonely hours before I was declared 'recovered' from my fairly serious surgery would have been eased by a few friendly faces ---So I still don't know what is best.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow? Ho ho!

Yes, we watched the flurries of snow come down and cover the ground this morning. It was so pretty - while it lasted. After the new President's Inaugural Address was finished, I looked outside again and the snow was almost all gone ! The ground is brown -- again. We did have a few more flakes swirling around a while ago, but it doesn't look like we'll get anything worth talking about today.

I went to my old digital camera to capture the elusive beauty of the snow on the nandina berries... but the battery needed recharging. By the time that was accomplished it was too late and the snow was gone. I didn't pick up my newer Kodak digital because the Inauguration was in full swing by then. Oh well. I have other 'snow pictures' in my collection. And winter is far from over yet.

Our "Old" friend Willie Mae and her other family members were included in a newspaper article this morning which assures me that 102-year-old Willie Mae did indeed get to Washington, and was located by our Representative who ushered her group into the warmth indoors. It was cold in D.C. today, so I was glad to know this.

A funny thing happened at the Book Store the other day. I was reminding my partner on how to ring up a sale on the cash register. After she plugged in the number of books and the category, I said, "Now, Enter...." and the friends in the store all laughed. I guess that tells how much time I spend at the Computer, doesn't it? The sale, by the way, was accomplished when my partner completed the process by pressing the Total key.

DAR reports work took most of the morning, so I've at least made dent in the process. I'm excited to report FOUR new members this year plus another one who transferred to our chapter. There's Much more to be done on the report forms, but I also have to attend to a few other matters in the meantime - like laundry. :-(

Friday, January 16, 2009

Rollercoasters - weather and emotions

Our 'rollercoaster' weather is wearing us all down with pleasant sweater-days mid-week and sub-freezing temps following too soon. Our painters left the other day saying they'd return to finish up the work on the exterior paint job when the temperature got back up to 40 and above. They simply cannot work or use paint brushes when it's so cold. The crew is doing a fine job (when they can work) of painting, repairing 'bad wood' and caulking where needed. We are very pleased with the results. This job was started back in December with intentions of being complete in three weeks. Then the rains came. Delays. A few really nice days allowed a lot of progress on the scraping off the old old paint and starting the repairs and painting. But the Alberta Clipper arrived and stopped everything. Compared with other areas of the US where snow won't stop falling, we're not so bad off. But it sure is COLD at 8 degrees this morning!
A news clip said Alaska was warmer than Tennessee yesterday.

The rollercoaster extends to emotional 'highs' with the Grand Opening Reception of the Library's WHITE HOUSE GARDENS exhibit last night. The event was beautiful and those who braved the elements to attend were quite impressed with the panels displaying the evolution of the White House Gardens from George Washington's time to the present. The accompanying book was a 'hit' too, with many of the guests buying their copy. The catered reception was lovely with delicous tidbits for the guests to enjoy. The flower arrangements in the Library and the Halle Room are simply gorgeous. Everyone worked hard to make the evening the success that it was.

The emotional 'low' came with the news of another job loss. As a parent, it really knocked me for a loop - as hard for me to accept as it was for the son, I 'm sure. He has a wonderful outlook and strong faith, and assured us that they would be all right. Still I'm reeling with the impact.

The incoming president will be hard-pressed to 'fix' all the ills of this country. We have to believe that he will do his best to do the right things for everyone. Time will tell. But in the meantime, I guess I'm not alone in wishing our leaders had been more able to guide "the economy" in such a way that this recession did not have to be.

Since I can't fix anything or even suggest any remedies, I will just have to keep on doing what I can and pray. As John Wesley said so long ago, "Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can."

Monday, January 12, 2009

GOOD News for a change!

Our son and daughter-in-law shared their Good News last night about their newest adopted family member, 2-year old Cocker Spaniel - Opal !

Isn't she Lovely? They say she's a sweet dog, and is already making herself at home with them.

I am SO glad...and happy for them.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The hurrier I go....

With the flurry of activities surrounding my several projects this week, I find myself wondering what's next? As the saying goes: the hurrier I go, the behinder I get.

So I said to myself, "Self, you gotta get organized and finish at least one of these things that are dangling." And self said back, "Yeah, but I'd rather do the funner things......" So that conversation got nowhere that would do much good, and only accomplished another delay -- of sorts.

So here it is Saturday already, and the dents I've made in the projects I'm responsible for are hardly noticeable. But on the other hand (and there's always another hand around here, it seems) I have had fun doing a totally unrelated project, taken on because there was a need not being filled by those who were charged with handling it. Ya know what I mean?

When I first opened my eyes earlier this morning, I remembered that I do not know where a very important packet of papers has gotten to, and that 'search and discover' will have to take precedence today over any other 'funner' job I might rather do. When I have to move things around to make room for house guests - like at Thanksgiving and Christmas - I put stuff in boxes and then more stuff on top... so this 'important packet' is most likely buried in one of those places. Guess I'll have to get out my old shovel and start digging. Trouble with that, tho, is that when I do start digging, I find other things - unrelated to the object of the search - that also need attention... and so it goes!

In the meantime, a nice long email from a longtime friend was waiting in my Inbox this morning. Whew, I'm so glad to hear from her from the other end of the State. We had not been in touch for months, and I really was just about to pick up the phone and call to see what had happened to her. Last I heard, her mother was getting on up in years, and I wondered .... But that was not the case at all. My friend was just so busy having fun with a new project that her club undertook, that she hadn't had time to communicate.

On rereading this post, I'm glad that 'grammar check' is not activated on this site, or I'd be in bad trouble.

Have a nice rainy morning, and hope the sun will come back out later today!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sad news

Our son called last night to tell us about the death of their dog. Maxey was a family member for 18 years, and the loss of that precious cocker spaniel is just about the most heart-breaking thing anyone can experience.

The loss of any loved one is devastating. When it's the lovable animal who gave her whole unquestioned devotion and unconditonal love, it tears the heart to ribbons.

Maxey had been on 'borrowed time' for two years, our son said, with many health problems, which our son and daughter-in-law ministered to with incomparable dedication.

There are no words to made them feel any better, but as I said on the phone, "it's all right to grieve; it's all right to cry, to be angry and to wonder why." Grieving is hard, but - as with the loss of a parent or other loved one - it's necessary.

Two other family members have had similar losses in the past few months with Bonnie and Mocha. Each time, their lovable dogs were an integral part of the family for a long time. Each time, the immediate loss was a shock and their grief was tangible.

As a parent, it's almost impossible to know how to console an adult child who suffers a loss like this. I can only pray that their memories will serve as solace over time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year starting....

What a busy beginning of the New Year ! If the rest of the year is as busy, I'm not sure I'll be able to maintain the momentum. But as Scarlet said, "I'll think about that tomorrow." In the meantime, I just read a devotional on planning and using time wisely: 'Plan your work and work your plan.' Great idea, with reservations. As the devotional writer muses, sometimes circumstances interfere and best laid plans have to take a detour. Or as Robert Burns penned:
"The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley..."

With the opening of the Smithsonian's "White House Gardens" exhibit at our Library coming this weekend, energy and enthusiasm is at a real high in anticipation of this exceptional event. I have to admit that I never really gave much thought to the 'gardens' at the White House. I have visited that historic building, and been privileged to be in a VIP tour group that my oldest daughter arranged several years ago. But the Gardens, per se, didn't get much of my attention. Seeing (on TV) the 'copter land on the White House grounds when the sitting president would be coming or going was exciting, and events that were televised from the Rose Garden were always nice enough. But now a whole new vista has opened for me - as I hope it will for many others as they visit the exhibit at our Library. The hardback book that accompanies the exhibit is beautifully written and describes that historic area from the time of first President George Washington to the present. The pictures and descriptions of the White House Gardens' evolution is fascinating reading.

The newsletter that I edit for the Marshall County (MS) Genealogical Society is just about all put together now for the January 2009 issue. This will be a 24-page issue thanks to the submissions of several members. The next step in the preparation is what I call "fine tuning"; getting all the pages lined up, filling white space where there's more than is necessary and spell-checking everything. It's a fun job that I have enjoyed over the seven years I've served as editor.

Then there's the DAR reports that must be made each year, summarizing the work the Chapter has done. That's a time-consumer, always. Details have to be included in the many areas of interest, with accurate accounts of programs and projects. We have gained two new members, with another application pending approval in Washington now. We lost one long-time member, though, who passed away in December. I am pleased that our Chapter now has a website, which was created and approved late in 2008.

The Annual George Washington Luncheon that our DAR Chapter hosts in February is always a nice occasion. We honor our high school DAR Good Citizen at this event, presenting him or her with a pin and certificate. The recipient had to write a timed essay in the presence of the school counselor on a subject unknown until time to actually write. I have been impressed every year with the high school senior's presentation of their response to the topic of good citizenship and preserving our heritage.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

I guess I'm about the last one to wish everyone a Happy New Year, since we're well into the new day and new year now.

To answer the question I posed in my last posting, I vicariously celebrated New Year's Eve with a trip to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and a lovely ride to Bavaria to a town at the base of the Alps! How totally awesome - for those who really did it, and for my 'armchair traveling' from back home.

Christmas dinner here was so much fun, even if half our crew was not able to be here with us. The rest of us didn't miss a trick in having a bountifully delicious meal and lots of fun exchanging gifts afterwards. The gifts-that-keep-on-giving are always nice to receive, and we managed to reap quite a few this year ! Gift cards are welcome and will be used, believe me! The toaster works beautifully - so much better than the old one, which has been discarded.

The Slide Scanner is providing hours of 'entertainment' for me so far... all those years of slides that were heretofore just stored are now coming to life as real pictures that can be shared, printed and saved! Thanks to Jonathan who got the program set up for me and taught me how to use it! The Oklahoma years in slides are bringing back So many memories!

The painters have been working valiantly on the exterior of the house now that the rains have subsided somewhat. The crew has scraped the old old paint off every single board, and are in the priming and painting process now - in spite of cold weather. I did not expect them to come to work today, since New Years Day is a "holiday", after all. I do not miss the sounds created by the scraping and hammering on the outside, that reverberate so loud inside !

Now , thanks to the Internet, I'm watching the plane's progress coming from Charles DeGaulle to Newark as our family travelers return from a storybook vacation trip. The friends won't return from their own fabulous trip until later this weekend. There'll be a jillion questions for both groups to answer and share when they get back and get settled in again at home.

So once again, Happy New Year to everyone. I join others in hoping for peace, love and health in this new year.