The Christmas Ornaments...

It was the winter of 1944, the war was far from home in Canada but the hardships were the same. There was the lack of goods, food and petrol as those items were being reserved for the troops. People were using their rationing cards to buy items such as flour, sugar, salt, bacon and if you were in luck, nuts and sometimes fresh fruit. So trips to Calgary were far and few between from Michichi, Alberta. 

Bill and Alice had two children, Marilyn 5, and Dave  2.  In the winter Bill was coal miner, in the spring and summer and fall he was a farmer.  During the war Bill also helped with the war effort by helping to maintain machinery, so he was gone sometimes during the winter. During the year Alice would sell her eggs from her hens and give piano lessons as she was a well-respected teacher of the instrument. She had some funds on hand for special purchases.  Every Saturday nights they would travel to different school houses in the country side and hold dances, Alice playing piano, Bill…banjo and his fellow chums on different instruments. Bob Hoy a family friend also sat in on the piano.

Christmas was drawing close and Alice still had not made the long trip into Calgary to make special purchases of warm wool socks, gloves and a hat for Bill. Other items included a doll for Marilyn and toy truck for Dave and to shop the department store windows dreaming of what could be once the war was over. Bundling up on Saturday the day before Christmas Eve, she left the children with their grandmother and made the 91 mile trip into Calgary on the bus to use her ration card. 

She purchased sugar, butter, flour, nuts, and some plums to make a plum pudding for Christmas and tangerines for the Christmas stockings. She had a chicken at the farm and root vegetables for a Christmas meal.  Each member of the family would bring a dish to share at the feast.

After her purchases she stopped to gaze at the beautifully decorated Hudson’s Bay department store windows knowing it was not reality.  Bill had cut down a small cedar tree which stood in the corner of the living room at the farmhouse without a decoration on it.  Alice spying a beautiful display of decorations went into the department store to see how much they were.  The salesman approached her and asked if he could be of help.  Alice realized he was speaking to her and she inquired after the decorations trimming the tree on the showroom floor. “I’m sorry Madame but those decorations are not for sale, only for show” “What will happen to them after Christmas is over” she inquired? “They will be thrown away as they can’t be sold” he replied.  Alice was aghast, “Such a waste! She cried. “Can I not purchase even one for my two children as they have nothing on the tree back home”. “Please let me purchase at least one ornament” she implored.  “I’m sorry but they are not for sale” and he turned away. Alice stood there like stone gazing at the ornaments on the tree with tears welling up in her eyes.  To be thrown away, to be discarded like trash.  But they weren’t trash to her they were beautiful. She slowly turned to leave the store glancing back at the tree shaking her head, she walked outside into the cold biting wind as the snow was starting to fall and swirl. 

Alice had just a few minutes before catching the bus back home when she felt a tap on her shoulder.  There stood the salesman with a small box in his hands.  He looked at her and said “you never got this from me.  Merry Christmas”!

Alice stood in the swirling snow dumbfounded at what just happened, with the small box in her hands along with the other packages tied up with string she boarded the bus.  
Once seated inside the bus for the long trip back to Michichi, with trembling hands she lifted the lid off the box.  Inside were 6 ornaments, Four were a small Santa with a wand in his hand that would fit onto a branch of the tree his face was made of clay and painted with a felt beard.  The other two were Santa’s, made of soft plush pipe cleaner with faces made of clay that were painted, along with a felt beard. They included bells on the ends of their feet that would jingle when hung from the tree.  To Alice they were the most beautiful ornaments she had seen. 
Christmas Ornaments from 1944

Today, 69 years later we still have the ornaments that Alice treasured so much that year. Three went to Marilyn and the others to Dave. They have hung on the family Christmas tree for many years and will continue to do so as they will be passed onto the next generation, even if they’ve lost their luster, to this family they are beautiful.

To the salesman who found it in his heart to share the Joy of Christmas so many years ago, may you find a special place in Heaven.

Merry Christmas!


Under The Weather and Sweet Potato Fries

Since the Monday after Thanksgiving I have been feeling punky, you know not quite up to snuff, er...a bit under the weather...oh well, you get the drift.  On Thursday the university shut down due to an ice storm hitting the area and early Friday morning we got well over 3 1/2 inches of white fluff falling from the sky and the day off from work.  People just don't know how to drive in the stuff here in Oklahoma. 

Friday morning I woke up to a lot of chest congestion, heavy coughing and a blinding headache. Unfortunately the health clinic that I go to on campus was closed due to the weather and the upcoming weekend so I had to wait until Monday to go to the Dr. who said I had Bronchitis and a very nasty case of it to boot.   

I spent most of the time in bed pushing lots of fluids and using my inhaler and my super heavy duty cough syrup that can knock out a horse. Great stuff!  I was given it back when I had to spend eight days in the hospital with pneumonia.  I have made sure that I always have it on hand as it is the best I have found but you do have to have a Dr's prescription to get it. 

Come Monday morning bright and early I called the clinic and with a barely audible voice got an appointment for a 10:30 visit with the P.A. (Physician's Assistant) I left with four prescriptions called into the pharmacy and orders not to go to work until I had a normal temperature for 24 hours. All said and done, out of pocket was about $81.00 

Needless to say yesterday was my first day back.  Boy was I tired by the end of the day.  Dave took pity on me and we went to Cracker Barrel for dinner. We both got their Chicken Fried Chicken and it was very tasty plus there was enough left over for lunch today. 

After work this evening I had Dave take me grocery shopping at Sprouts. They had their homemade chicken sausage and pork sausage links on sale for $2.99 a pound which is a $1.00 off a pound when they do that.  That's when I stock up and put it in the freezer.  I also got some grass feed ground beef and very meaty thick cut bacon.  While under the weather I made some chili that was super awesome with the grass fed beef. So much better than with beef that has all the "other" stuff in it. I also made a pot of homemade potato soup, guaranteed to cure what ails you. I love to make this soup and crumble up whole wheat saltines in it.  Yes I know it's not Paleo but the combination of the hot soup and the soup soaked saltine hitting the back of the throat and keeping it warm just seems to do something for the getting cure on. 

Tonight we had Maple pork Sausage links with Sweet Potato Fries and Brussels Sprouts. I have never made baked Sweet Potato Fries before, but my Paleo cookbook said it was easy and the episode of "The Pioneer Woman" with Ree Drummond showing how it is done, how could one go wrong.  They turned out exceptionally good and added a nice touch to the meal.  I made a honey mustard dipping sauce for the fries but it was wonderful as a dipper for the sausage as well and gave it a nice touch of flavor.  

Friday night is our night out at Hastings.  I read and drink a cup of decaf and Dave wanders the store with his coffee in hand.  I finished up the third in the Camel Club series called "Stone Cold" by David Baldachi.  I really enjoy his books. I have one left before I change to another series.  

I have yet to start any real Christmas shopping as I loath crowds.  But I do have my shopping done (on-line) for the girls. I have a gift for J.  I need something for the boys and Dave and I will be finished.  

Time is drawing nigh. 374 days until I retire.  Stay warm!


The Kids Came For Thanksgiving...

For the first time in 10 years we had Thanksgiving at our house.  The KC Kid came in a week early due to her job and the Grans with parents in tow came in very early Wednesday morning, 4 A.M. to be exact, bringing what appeared to be the flu for dad and the boys with sinus and ear infections.  Both boys and parents ended up with Fifths Disease.  But in spite of all the illness we still had a great time. So far KC, her Dad and I have managed to escape any illnesses however my cheeks look like I have been heavily slapped which is one of the symptoms of Fifths Disease. It's a wait and see kind of thing which is normally associated with children but adults can get it.

I know lots of people have their Thanksgiving dinner around noon.  We are in the 6% category who have it after 6 P.M.  This is the first year we have ever had a fresh turkey and I used Ree Drummond's recipe for the brine and cranberry sauce.  Ree and her husband are the 17th largest landowners in the USA and live near Pawhuska, OK. She has the Cooking show called The Pioneer Woman on the Food Network (two different links here folks). I also used her Grandmother's recipe for green beans and tomatoes which was awesome.  Thanks Ree! I think I have a new family favorite.

Wednesday afternoon I started some of the prep work for the dinner the following day.  Here is the turkey in a brine bag in a cooler with the brine. 
The Bird is getting pampered! All 13 lbs of it

After getting the bird all prepped I sealed the bag and stuck the cooler out on our generator shed outside as it was colder out there than in the refrigerator besides I didn't have room in the refrigerator for the bird.

Next I prepared Ree's homemade Cranberry Sauce.  
Boy is it easy.  I never liked the whole berry sauce out of a can but this was awesome with just 4 ingredients.
Homemade Cranberry sauce,
Mmm this is good stuff Maynard!

Next morning I moseyed my way to the kitchen and stared prepping the sausage stuffing after having a cup of Joe.

Yams diced with Olive Oil with
salt and pepper

Sausage, Bacon, Onions, Mushrooms, Celery and Apples
With chicken broth.
Next I finished prepping the turkey and stuffed it with apples and oranges. After getting the bird in the oven I finished prepping the Brussels Sprouts and Heather made a lovely dish of Mac and Cheese for the family. 

Half way through the cooking of the bird I removed it from the oven to baste it in a mixture of butter, finely chopped rosemary and slivered orange peel.  Back into the oven the bird went to finish up the cooking.
We finished the regular dressing for the boys, gravy, roasted the Brussels sprouts, made the yams with marshmallows. Heather made the regular green       bean casserole and I baked the sausage dressing while the bird was resting. Whew!
Most of the dishes covered on the sideboard
and waiting to be served

J said grace and we ate.  Boy was it good and was I ever tired.  After dinner we got the food all put up and Dave and the girls cleaned the kitchen.  Andy decided to use his dad as a pillow while we were watching a show on TV. Then we hit the hay. It didn't take me long to pass out. 

I don't do Black Friday. Never have, never will as I don't like crowds.  However the girls went out in the afternoon and found some good buys for the boys and came home with their treasures.

Saturday was the trip to the Natural History Museum which is across the road from us.  We all walked over and if there were wall along the sidewalk, Noah would be bouncing off of them.  J was having a tough time as his back was out of whack and was battling a migraine headache.  We also took pictures of the boys for Christmas pictures. Noah is every bit boy who has a mind of his own. We did get some good pictures however but we had to work for it. 

Pom Pom and Noah

The museum has a wonderful Discovery room for children and lots of fun things for them to do and explore.
Skeleton in Discovery Room

After wandering the museum for a couple of hours we walked back to the house, fed the 4 dogs and went to Chuy's for dinner. After dinner J helped get Dave's computer back up and running so Dave is one happy man at the moment.

Today while J was recouping I took the kids outside to play as I felt they needed to run off some energy and get some fresh air. Noah loves to pick the bark off of trees and Andy likes to follow suit.
The boys in their Yoda hats!

Once back inside their mom and dad were busy getting the car packed up and ready to go. With just a few things left to pack we went to Pei Wei's for dinner. I got the Thai Lettuce wraps and enjoyed them very much. Noah tried his hand at chopsticks and Andy did the two fisted shove.

 We got back to the house took a few family shots and said our good-byes.  Heather was having to drive home as J's back just wasn't going to let him drive so I'm sure he will be seeing the Chiropractor tomorrow to get a much needed adjustment.

Slowly the house is returning to normal, KC Kid is almost finished reading the Hunger Games Catching Fire, the dogs are doing what they do best, napping and I am starting to feel rugged as I type this blog. 
The last few pages of Catching Fire
Matter of fact she and her dad went out to Wally World to find the third book of the trilogy and to get cream and a few things from the store.

What am I thankful for?  I have a wonderful family that I cherish. My husband who is my rock, my job, food on our table and a country that I can worship in. I am truly blessed!

What are you thankful for?

387 day till retirement...


Old Man Winter Blew In Today…

Little pitter-patters of rain turning to sleet peppered the windows of my office this afternoon, as I received a phone call from the President of the University saying the campus would be closing at 3:30 today due to in-climate weather moving in our direction. It’s supposed to be nasty through the weekend…Ugh!  Sounds like a good weekend to catch up on all the DVR shows waiting to be viewed that we never seem to have time to watch.  

As I left the office some of my co-workers were working on trying to clear their windows of a good ¼ inch of ice. I remember being in high school and having to drive up a hill with my head hanging out the window to be able to see as I could not clear the half inch of ice on my windows.  I was barely able to get the door opened to squeeze in and drive the old ‘50 Ford stick shift home.  Mind you, I lived less than a half mile from the school, but it felt like ten miles that day.

We had our Thanksgiving luncheon today at the office.  I love dressing  but since I have gone to eating a Paleo diet I had to come up with something different.  What I ended up bringing was a wonderful dish of Turkey bacon, Turkey sausage, celery, onions, mushrooms ,dried cranberries, chopped pecans, diced yams, chicken broth, white wine vinegar(no alcohol), eggs, salt and pepper.  The recipe calls for  pork sausage and bacon but there are some people in our office who have dietary restrictions so I subbed in turkey.  It was yummy. It’s one of those dishes that you could add a fried egg to in the morning for breakfast.  
Sunset as we were driving to OKC

I had to make a quick trip this week to the north side of Oklahoma City to have my sewing machine looked at again.  I had gotten it back last Saturday after it was in the shop for a week being repaired. It had a much needed tune-up and the controller foot peddle had no slow speed so it had to be fixed as well and then on Sunday it quit.  As it turned out it was due to operator error.  L However I did learn a valuable lesson, make sure your needle is in all the way or the thread will not get picked up by the shuttle.  It turned out to not be a wasted trip as my Bernina
Christmas Towels
man, John Ramsey, said the person who worked on my machine was allergic to a special lubricant  therefore my machine had not been treated with it…so John lubed up my machine and I was good to go.  I have had my Bernina 830 for 30 years and it is one little workhorse and sews like a dream. 

I’m working on Christmas gifts for the family this year.  Here are some of the towels I’m making and some of the pieces of the sports quilt made out of sports T’s for one of the girls.  Do I
Quilt Blocks for Sports Quilt
worry about them finding out what I am doing?  No, as they never read my blog. Also on the list are matching kitchen aprons for the whole family in Texas.  Somewhere in there I also have head scarves to make from my circular knitting looms, so lots to do…all of this by Christmas.
Sumi and Cory

One of the girls in our office got married recently. For a wedding gift I said I would shoot a picture of her and her new husband.  I think it turned out rather well considering that it was very dark as the flash did not fire, but after a quick edit in Picasa 3, they both loved it. I have another shoot this coming spring with the son of another co-worker.  So I am looking forward to that.   

We went truck shopping the other night…still looking.  I’m hoping to find our truck by the end of December if not before. 

396 days and counting...Boy time is flying!


RV Show and Friends...

Yesterday Dave and I headed off to Oklahoma City to the Fairgrounds to pass our time looking at new RVs. While making a quick stop on the way at Sam’s Club for dog food, I got a call from our friends, fulltime RVers, Bobbie and Jim Chapman.  They were coming in from Clinton, OK and wanted to get together for some dinner and good ole fashion conversation. I said that would be great and Bobbie was to give me a call when they got into town.  

We finished our purchase and had to drive to the main gates of the fairgrounds instead of the 10th street exit to get in as they had all kinds of construction going on around the Fairgrounds. There was a Horse show, RV show, Motorcycle swap and a Coin show going on.  It was a zoo of people.  We paid our money, $7.00 with the help of a $2.00 off coupon, got our hand stamped and started looking.   
Keystone Alpine 3495 FL  We really like the layout of this one.

There’s nothing like climbing in and out of 5th wheels, some with 3 steps (where’s the climbing gear?), and some with the coveted 4 steps.  If I were a trailer designer I would require that all trailers have 4 steps plus deeper steps.  RV steps are too shallow and not well spaced and in my estimation dangerous, and what’s up with dinky handles to hold on to going in and coming out of trailers.  If it’s to save money, forget it.  wouldn't mind seeing a collapsible bar that you could slip into some sort of clamp gizmo that would give you a hand rail down the full set of steps. It would save a lot of falls outside of the trailer.
3495 Living Room
Master Bedroom with a King Bed

Lots of space
3495 Kitchen

If one of these contraptions is going to be my new home then I want features that I feel safe with and coming out of a 5th wheel trailer with an arm full of food or laundry or anything else, I want to know my feet are on a firm wide stable footing.  Another feature is handrails inside where you go up the three steps to the upper area of a 5th wheel.  Apparently the industry has heard people on this but not all of the industry. Thank goodness I had my knees replaced as I would not be able to get up and down in these trailers at all.  
I like the full size showers with a seat

We saw all kinds of improvements in the 2013 models and some head scratchers as well.  There was one trailer that we really liked and it was a beauty to boot, had everything we wanted except an area for a washer and dryer. If you are living full time out on the road and you want to do a quick load while you lay over for an evening in a Wal-Mart parking lot, you don’t want to have to seek out a Laundromat in an unfamiliar town. At least I don’t. I don’t mind going to a Laundromat in the daytime but in the evening, uh…no.

In one trailer I was looking at I met a young man who had not thought of the prospect of traveling the country and working out of a trailer.  He is a computer programmer who works out of his home.  I asked him if it was necessary for him to be tied to his home and he looked at me as if a light-bulb went off. “No” he replied, to which I replied “Well there you go, get out there and enjoy life” I told him about Roadschooling (which is just another word for Homeschooling) being done by Rachel Rowell you can read her blog here about heading out with her family of 4.  I've been inspired by what Rachel and her family are doing. Why wait for retirement to live your dream.  I guess I must have planted a seed because the young man quizzed me further and I passed on several RV websites for him to look at.  

After climbing in and out of about 60 trailers, Dave and I looked at each other and said it was time to hit the road, besides Bobbie should be calling at any moment.  We had just left the fairgrounds when the call came in and we headed over to the Elks Club in Mid-West City just north of Tinker Air Force Base. I almost got us in trouble as I saw the SW 15th street sign and said “turn left here” thinking it was a straight shot through to the east side of town. It could have been a big mistake as it took us through a very rough part of OCK with lots of housing projects and an industrial area with no through access.  We did find our way out of the district and back to I-40 which we took to the SE 15th exit off of I-35 and made our way to the Elks Club. Jim is an Elk and for their members they provide free hook-ups, or you can give a donation to the club for your stay.  

Our Chicken Pot Pie
Bobbie and Jim looked great and we were happy to see them.  We decided on Cheddar's for dinner. As usual Dave and I had the Old Fashion Chicken Pot Pie Dinner (our favorite). Bobbie ordered a delightful Salmon dinner and Jim followed with Chicken Pot Pie as well as an appetizer of onion rings, yummy.  After an hour or so of great conversation, we all left stuffed.  

The salad we had with dinner

Bobbie and Jim Chapman
We took them back to their trailer, said our good byes until the next time we meet. What a fun couple.  I just wish we had more time to visit. They are the ones that planted our seed of fulltime RVing to which I am grateful. 

We got back to Norman, fed the dogs and then went over to the Cleveland Count Veteran's Memorial at Reeves Park in support of the Vets who were marching at their memorial in Washington DC.  

Cleveland County Veteran's Memorial 

Freedom is never free. ~Author Unknown

406 Days till we’re out there!
Eagle of Freedom


I Joined a Fantasy Football League...

“Who are you and where is my wife Susie?”  Said my hubby to me. Not wanting to spoil the moment I replied “I’m right here” to which he replied “No, my wife doesn't play Fantasy Football” “Well I do now!” said I.  Dave said we only watched the playoffs and the Dallas Cowboys on occasion but now he is amazed that we are watching Thursday night football, Sunday (all day) football and Monday night football.  We have never watched that much football ever. Normally Sundays is reserved for the other Futball games (Soccer).

Several people in our office have started playing Fantasy Football and they were having so much fun talking about it that I had to have a team of my own to see what all the hub bub was about.  Somehow I ended up with two teams…don’t ask me how because I could not tell you. 

I am in a public league for both teams.  One team is doing really well the other…well let’s just say they suck! On the sucky team it’s hard when you’re playing against Payton Manning and you are in last place.  On the other team where you are in the top five, I put in a different quarterback because I was playing against Payton Manning.  I mean I took out Tony Romo and put in Matthew Stafford my back-up quarterback because his team clearly was going to do better than what Romo was going to be doing against Manning.  Of course 4 of my starters one of them being Adrian Peterson, have byes this week…what’s a girl to do?

Fantasy Football is really a crap shoot in my estimation but it is fun to see how you stack up against the other owners in the league. What’s not fun is trying to figure out who to play when most of your team is sitting on the bench due to injuries.  Oh well just have fun…there’s no money bet on this, at least not at my end, so revel in the moment and watch some football.

Go Team!! 


I'm Defiantly NUTS!!!!

 Yep...That I am...NUTS!!!

Dave and I have started a new blog called...wait for it...

We decided while eating dinner last night that we would write about our recommendations for the sites to see, eateries, campgrounds, etc... that we will visit out on the road. But instead of writing about it in this blog we will reference it and include a link.  So many times I will see something in someone's blog and think "oh I have to remember that" and forget where it is and then I have lost the moment of what I wanted or needed to remember. So in writing the new blog we will include links by state and activity. I daresay it will take me some time to get it all figured out but It will be like a reference guide and hopefully easy to navigate.  We will also include our recommendations of what not to do,see,eat or stay at.

So check us out and let us know what you think...



Hark, the Herald Angels Sing…

I saw a post on Facebook from my daughter the other day saying there was just something wrong with seeing Christmas decorations already out at the local craft stores and it was only August.  Her sister’s Mother-in-Law replied that she would order the Christmas items in January for her store, to be delivered in June, so she could spend the summer getting decorations ready to put up for the season. 
Wreaths for the door at a local craft store, on the shelves in August
Santa's on Sale
Tons of ornaments ready to go

The perfect tree just waiting for a family

Way back when I was a kid, and that was a long time ago…I remember waiting with anticipation for the Friday following Thanksgiving.  That was the real beginning of Christmas season for me and lots of other people.  We would go to the stores in downtown Tulsa to look at the decorated windows while listening to the Christmas music playing over the speaker system. To the seven year old's eye, decorations seemed to magically appear on beautiful Christmas trees placed throughout the stores.  One of the highlights of the season was the Christmas Parade with Santa riding on his sleigh urging his reindeer on. People smiled a lot at each other. Men would open doors for women whose arms were overloaded with packages, tip their hats and smile. The women were appreciative.  The pace was hectic but the spirit of the season was high and it was a fun time.  Sidewalk Santa’s would stand on the corners ringing the bells for the Salvation Army.  We always would put in our spare change. 

Then came the day we would head to the Christmas tree lot to pick out that years tree.  Was it tall enough, full enough, would it fit the corner where the Christmas tree always went? One year we got a flocked tree.  It was pretty, but hard to decorate.  Mom put red ribbons and red birds all over it with white lights.  We all stood back and decided that next year we would go back with the green tree since we could decorate it in lots of colors and tinsel. Back then bubble lights were the in thing and as the light got hot it would make the colored water in the tube bubble.  It was fun to watch and just did not have a place on a white flocked Christmas tree.

Christmas Eve my mother would give me $6.oo, I would catch the bus which stopped across the street from the house, board it and get off the bus at 3rd and Cincinnati in Tulsa and head for the downtown area of 5th and Main Street. I was 12 then and old enough to ride the bus alone. I spent hours going from store to store searching for the right gift. From my six dollars. I paid for my lunch, bus fare both ways and a present each for 4 members of my family.  I dare say that I can’t do that anymore.  Every gift that I purchased was from the heart, a set of Monogrammed Handkerchiefs for my dad, scented padded hangers for my mom, a clip-on bow-tie for my brother and hose with seams in the back for my grandmother. 

For lunch I would head to my favorite eatery, Coney Island, purchase two Coneys with mustard, chili and finely chopped onions and a Coke. Every shopkeeper would say Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah as they knew their clientele.  After a hard days shopping the last thing I did was to find the Salvation Army Santa and put some coin in the pot, then catch the bus home thinking that I was so big to go it alone and very proud of my purchases, as I had spent a lot of time agonizing over color and size.  Back then each gift you purchased came with a box. So it always seemed that I had an armful no matter the size.    

We lived in a simpler, gentler time.  My mom didn't worry about me being 12 and heading downtown on my own; I had to be back at 4:30 and always made it in time.  It was unheard of if there was a kidnapping or an assault on a child.  It wasn't until I was 14 that I started taking my brother with me so he could do his shopping. 

After a hard day of pounding the pavement I would sneak into the house, with my loot and make a beeline for my bedroom while grabbing the bag of wrapping paper, ribbon, scissors, tape and hauling it with me as I shut the door and yelled “Don’t you dare come in here, or you’ll spoil your surprise!”  I always managed to hand back a bit of change to my mom from my $6.00 and felt I had done a great job staying within my budget.   Now days we would say Budget? What’s that?  Charge that Please…

The weeks before Christmas, the house would be filled with delicious odors of baked cookies, minced meat and pumpkin pies, chocolate and spice cakes. Occasionally we would have a lemon or chocolate chess pie. Mom and I would grocery shop for the Christmas meal and make sure that we checked and doubled checked to make sure we had everything as she only wanted to shop once.  My job was to make the biscuits and cornbread for the stuffing and to wash and clean the turkey.  Back then turkeys were not as clean as they are now. I would find lots of feather and quill points still in the bird which had to be removed.  I use to scrub it down with cornmeal inside and out, then water bath it with salt water.  Afterwards I would inject it with butter and put it back in the refrigerator to keep until the next morning when we would make the stuffing for the bird and get it ready for the oven.  I also made cookies with the old, old fashioned cookie press and decorated to my heart’s content.  It was so much fun. 

My father was a big kid at heart.  We had to open our Christmas gifts at the stroke of midnight as he couldn't wait until Christmas morning. It wasn't until many years later that we got him to open them on Christmas morning so he could see the expression on his grandchildren’s faces as they discovered their gifts from Santa. My grandmother would drive over around 10 p.m. and would bring all her presents to put under the tree.  Before it was said and done we had a ton of presents or so it seemed.  Somehow Santa’s presents always made it under the tree before midnight, how I don’t know but they did. After a toast of eggnog we would choose someone to play "Santa" and for the next several hours we opened presents much to the delight of all. 

As our own children came along “Santa” would come and visit with them at their grandparent’s house before they were tucked into bed to dream of Sugar Plum Fairies dancing in their heads.

I say leave Christmas alone.  Let the kids get back to school, celebrate fall, football and Halloween, be thankful for family, friends and a bountiful year at Thanksgiving and then celebrate Christmas and what the season is about. 

439 Days till retirement... 

I have a new follower Laurrie Piland with her food blog

Baked Lava, she is cooking her way across the USA in an RV. Check out her blog.  Welcome Laurrie, glad to have you at our campfire.



Not long after the kids left, I scheduled an appointment to give blood at a blood drive as our blood stores were very low in the Metro area. Arriving for my appointment, I'm shown to a small cubicle and start the required procedures.  First read this, answer questions, prick finger, get blood pressure...blood pressure...there's the rub. Six times they tried to take my blood pressure first on my left arm, then right arm, larger cuff, do away with machine pump take it manually, they could not get reading.  I know I'm alive because the damn thing hurt like a bear.  Finally they get a reading and I'm cleared to go have the blood draw.  

I get out to the motor home where the inside has been converted to lounging couches and they get me situated and all hooked up to get started, once again a bloody cuff goes on my arm and it hurts like hell. In goes the needle and I spray blood all over my shirt. Second time I have given blood and that has happened.  They clean my shirt and arm with Peroxide as Peroxide will remove blood along with washing...sure 'nuf it did, not a stain anywhere. I gave blood in record time less that 10 minutes.  For my troubles I got orange Gatorade  some nutter-butters, a new T-shirt, 2 free admission tickets to the Oklahoma City Zoo, a picture and magnet of the Channel 4 helicopter, got to see that baby land, and an entry to a drawing for a new car.  No...I didn't win the car, but someone was given the gift of life.

I had a Doctor’s appointment scheduled to have my hip and shoulder looked at. Back in April the big boy (Fitz, the dog) and I got our legs tangled up and I went flying towards our coffee table head first.  I did a quick quarterback stiff arm and a twist to keep from landing on my knees and to keep me from hitting my head.  It was not a pretty site.  I kept putting up with the pain, trying to rest the shoulder and the forearm but everything was so inflamed it it felt like hot nails were being driven into my forearm and shoulder. I simply could not straighten my arm or carry any weight on it.  It just wasn't getting any better. 

The way an HMO works is you spend $25.00 at your regular Doctor to look at it, determine that it is hurt and then recommend that you see the Orthopedic Surgeon at $35.00 a pop. An appointment is made and off you go to see his Physician’s Assistant.  Phil has been with Dr. Schnabel for 25 years and assisted with both of my knee replacement surgeries.  He ordered up x-rays for my hip and shoulder.  “Hmm” says he “how far can you raise your arm” To the front about shoulder high, to the side not even to a 7 o’clock position.  “The bursa is all inflamed, as well as the sheath covering the muscle in the lower arm that's attached to the bicep…it’s all connected”…“well I knew that!” So...he said he was going to give me a little joy juice and see if that helped, along with 6 weeks of physical therapy.   Dave was in the room watching this procedure and didn't say a word or utter a sound.

I sat in a chair and Phil poked around until he found the HOT SPOT and quickly in went the injection of Cortisone. I felt a little sting and the pressure of the medicine being injected into the joint.  The other shoulder has some arthritis and it was ejected as well.  Phil had me lie on my side and once again poked on the inflamed hip, found the other HOT SPOT and injected that.  That one I really felt and had to do some labor breathing to get through the shot.  Afterwards on our way home Dave told me the needle was at least 9” long…Oh good Lord, I’m glad I didn't see it.

About 2 days later I had full range of motion and was feeling great.  The shots even benefited my thumb joints which have arthritis in them.  I was to the point of having to hold my coffee cup with both of the palms of my hands (like Willem Defoe in The English Patient) and not using my thumbs because I couldn't grip or hold on to anything. Then I started physical therapy…my left shoulder is hurting again at this point so I will have to talk to the Therapist at my next appointment and see what they recommend.  I’m thinking some ice packs may be the ticket along with some Glucose-mine and Arthrotec.

I know the cortisone shots have played terrible havoc with my Blood Glucose readings. Trying to find the magic combination of exercise and food is not always easy in the first place but I have never had readings of this magnitude…261, was the highest it’s ever been.  This afternoon I had my first normal 2 hour reading after lunch, it was 134! I was soooo happy! Anything under 183, 2 hours after you take your first bite of food is good but 134 was fantastic! About mid-September I go back to Phil and hopefully this will all be healed, otherwise more shots or an MRI and surgery.  We will see...

I called one of my co-workers the other day to check on some information for our office, to which she said she had my walker that I loaned to her for her total knee replacement, that she needed to get back to me.  I told her no hurry to which she replied that she was going in for surgery this coming Monday. When she told me what it was for I was shocked.  Breast Cancer!  “Barb” I cried, “No, No, No it’s all good” she said cheerfully, the Doctor had shown it to her on her X-Rays and it was the size of the round opening of a ball-point pen.  They caught it on an annual Mammogram.  Technology has advance so much that Doctors are now able to detect cancers before they get to stage 1.  Barb will not have to have Chemo but radiation instead and will be back to work in no time.  Please wish her well.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Don’t wait until then to get yours done. I’m getting mine scheduled week after next.  Don’t take the chance and let it slide, you are too important to all those who love you.

457 days until I retire…


Part Deux...

The “Kids” were supposed to come up on Friday the week of July 14th, however as things worked out they promised an early start the next day, that means leave at noon on the 20th.  They pulled in around 7 that evening.  Yes it takes 7 hours to make a 5 ½ trip.  I had dinner ready for them and I know they were happy they didn't have to buy anything. 
Dave and Andy having playtime
Later that evening J and Heather prepared a brisket to roast in the oven.  They put on a dry rub consisting of garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, Chipotle
Slicing and shredding the brisket 
spice, course ground pepper, and put it in the oven for 8 hours at 250 degrees, the last hour they turned it up to 400 to get that nice crisp crust on it.  J then let it rest for an hour then sliced part of it up the rest he shredded.  We still have meat left.  It was delicious.  

Working on Mac & Cheese and Salsa

Sunday we fixed up three pans of family sized Stouffers Mac and Cheese and put it into one big pan then put buttered panko crumbs spiced with Smokey Spanish Paprika on it to brown in the oven, Heather also made a knock out drop dead container of homemade salsa. It was so good, then Christie, Heather, J and the boys went off to meet up with friends and their families in the City, a lot of these kids had not seen each other since college so I know it was a real treat for them to get together once more. In their previous lives they were summer camp counselors for the Episcopal Church. Camp was at St. Crispin’s Camp and Conference Center just outside of Seminole, OK.  Christie was a counselor in training and would spend a week there with her big sis.  Heather would spend all of June and most of July there as a camp counselor. She did it for 3 years and made lifelong friendships. 

 Noah coloring in his new color book
Andy playing Peek-a-Boo with his new toy
Monday was spent relaxing and playing with the boys.  It also was mine and Dave’s 41 wedding anniversary. My how time flies when you’re having fun! That evening we all went to the Olive Garden and had dinner.  Our waiter brought out a special treat for Dave and I, a plate covered in chocolate and raspberry syrup with chocolate mints in the middle surrounding two candles. He had overheard J
 A happy 41 years together
mentioning our anniversary.  Earlier in the day Heather, J and the boys went to Moore and had lunch with some friends they had not seen since they got married in 2008. When you’re in town you try to make the most of it and get as many visits in as possible.
Noah taking on the Spider
Andy, along for the ride
Tuesday we took the family to the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History.  Noah was all big eyed when he saw the dinosaurs.
Wow...That is one big dinosaur!
 We spent 2 hours looking at the exhibits.  Andy was in the stroller and was just along for the ride, so to speak. I highly recommend this museum. 
Looks like a painting but is a Diorama
They have interactive exhibits for kids of all ages and it’s wonderful.  At the moment they have a Macro Photography exhibit of bugs, mainly spiders, amazing photography. 
Up Close and Personal the Spider is no bigger than the end of your little finger

Exhibition Hall
Andy was out for the count after the Museum visit

Noah figuring out how to show his....
Mean Spider Face

Later that evening, Dave and I babysat the boys while the “youngsters” which included J’s Nephew Dillon, went up to the city to a benefit concert for the tornado victims.  Some of the bands playing were the Flaming Lips and Kings of Leon.  I know they had a great time.
Noah and David having a little one-on-one time watering the garden

I found some old books of the girls when they were little and I would read to Noah each evening before bed.  He fell in love with a book called Tiger Pig, a silly little story of a pig who has strips and teeth of a tiger who travels the world trying to find out what kind of animal he is.  Noah loved it.  Each evening I would ask “What do you want me to read tonight Noah” and he would shout “Tiger Pig”

Our biggest worry for the week was our big dogs. I shouldn't have worried though, they were wonderful to both the boys, no matter how they hugged, tugged and pushed on them.  Fitz loved on them by giving big licks on the face and arms each morning, but for the most part ignored them. He is such a gentle giant.
Fitz and Lizzy resting after being chased by the boys
Lizzy being the herding mother type was ever present but managed to stay out of the way of little hands. Bear, the little terror he is, would snarl but would not snap; he just wanted to let them know he was boss.  Sam, their dog, would mark his territory outside by peeing in the dog’s water dish, so that was a daily clean out. The whole crew got along great and we didn't have one fight. That is good for 3 males and a female dog.

Noah had fun feeding these little guys!
Wednesday we did the Oklahoma City Zoo. Dave and I have not been to the zoo since the kids were in elementary and mid-high school. Oh, my gosh, it was amazing. 
Got my OU hat I'm ready for the Zoo
The children’s area has a babbling brook running through it that the kids can take off their shoes and run through the water. 
Andy is not sure about the bird on his stroller

What is it about water that attracts boys?
The elephant pen looked like something out of Jurassic Park. They have a pool with stingrays that you can pet. 
Jurassic Style Elephant Pen
The barbs had been trimmed, so no worries there.  Noah loved the seals and all their antics. If you go on Wednesdays you can get in for a $1. 
Hot dogs, popcorn and sodas are all a $1 each.  We all had a great time, however I got overheated and had to hitch a
Petting the Stingrays 
 ride up to an air-conditioned restaurant to cool off and regain my stamina.  It was terribly hot and we all were drinking water like crazy, but that didn't help me as I had suffered heat exhaustion years ago and it still affects me if I get overheated.  Dillon met us at the zoo. He and Noah had a great time. Heather’s friend Stephanie and her two children, Catherine and Christian also joined us.
Front row: Catherine, Christian and Noah
Back Row: Christie, Dillon, J, Stephanie and Heather

Noah, Christian and Catherine on a bronze baby elephant, reminds me of the movie Daktari with John Wayne
While I was being taken up to the restaurant, the kind zoo employee was telling me the OKC
  ZOO is the third largest family friendly zoo and they are getting ready to make some huge changes which may
Cooling off and having a treat at the Zoo
include more shade which is sorely needed. When you enter the zoo you will be able to see the heads of the Giraffes and then walk to their pen. 

Thursday, J and Dave worked on his computer; the girls and I went and had pedicures.  It was a treat day for us.  Later that evening Dillon and his girlfriend and J went to the midnight showing of Wolverine with Hugh Jackman.  Meanwhile, the girls, Dave and I went through old photographs. It was a hoot to look at how much we had changed.

Noah and Andy's first train ride...
Friday all of us went to the Jasmine Moraine Children’s Museum in Seminole, OK. 
 I highly recommend this museum. It’s where children play to learn and adults learn to play again. 

J cranking up the Model T
Colin and Noah going for a spin

We met up with Amber and Matt Howard and their little boy Colin.  Heather and Amber were roommates in college. 
Becoming a grease monkey
We all had a blast. Noah got to ride his first train and loved it.  Afterwards he went up on a maze of platforms and wires, daddy had to go up and rescue him. I don’t know 
Fearless Kid...
who was more scared Noah or J. 
Noah working the Valves
They have an area that is water play with big contraptions that allow you to make huge bubbles.  
Operating on a Knee

Auntie Christie lying on a bed of nails...
Afterwards we went over to St. Crispin’s Camp and Conference Center to see how much it had changed since 2002.  A LOT!!!!!  They have a lot planned for the center.  Great changes are in store for the place.  It will be exciting for sure.  One of the areas holds a huge ropes course; it’s all about team-building which is important for today’s youth. 
St. Crispin's Rope Course
One of the biggest changes is the cost.  When the girls went it was $145, now it’s $300 for a week.  The facility is beautiful and I know will keep improving.  Afterwards we went to Santa Fe Steak House in Shawnee where Dillon works, however due to a mix-up with the hostess we were not seated in his section, but we still got to visit for a bit.  Dinner was very good. 
Christie and Noah playing the crack game.
Don't step on a crack or you'll break your mothers back

Saturday morning, the "boys" trundled off to Lowe's Home Improvement store for a child's craft project. Let's just say that Daddy builds a mean car.
Noah reading the instructions for dad

Finished project...Look! It's Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story
 That afternoon we went and swam at the OU Pool.  Noah loved it.  I even got in the water and did some exercises. 
No visit to Norman would be complete without a visit to the Greek House
Best Greek food ever!
 I could hardly stay awake afterwards and went to bed early and woke up around 1 a.m., the crew, except for the boys, was still up.  So I stayed up until 3 then hit the hay and slept until 9 the next morning.

J and Heather wanted to be on the road early around       10:30 a.m., hmmmm where have I heard that before, they pulled out around 6:30 p.m.
Learning at an early age the fine art of becoming a Jedi Master

Jedi Master in Training
I found Christie’s pair of Fisher-Price roller skates from when she was three. 
They still work after 27 years!
Noah loved them and we sent them with him. After spending the day packing and doing last minute clean-up on our computers, J’s an IT Tech, we picked a spot for dinner had a wonderful time at Chuy’s Mexican restaurant.  We had a great waiter named Cam which we gave him high marks on the survey. The big plus for us was he served the kids first before the adults got their meal. If you take in a framed picture of your dog you get a free appetizer.  I will have to do that next time we go. 

Grammy giving a piano lesson to the boys

A budding virtuoso

We all came back to the house so the kids could pick up Sam and get him loaded into the car. After hugs, kisses, one last run through the house and a silent prayer we waved good-bye and they were on their way.  They actually made good time, and pulled into their driveway at midnight, 5 ½ hours on the nose.

It has been quiet…too quiet around here.  I miss those little guys; they make the world a brighter place. Noah singing silly songs and being goofy, Andy walking all over the place, trying to emulate his big brother. Such happy, happy boys, and I love them and their parents dearly. God I miss them already…
Oops, one thing found after they left, three days later…One of Noah’s cars, guess he will get it on his next visit.

462 days until we are out on the road and can go see them when we want.  I can hardly wait!

Happy trails…