Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas is Coming!

I ordered my first Christmas gift yesterday. Last year by this time I had finished my shopping! (Though, I must admit, most years I am still looking for last minute gifts on Christmas Eve.) Somehow, this year my brain feels absolutely barren of ideas. I love to give Christmas gifts--the hard part is choosing them.

2011 -- Megan arranging the gifts. My camera was accidentally on the wrong setting
so I got some interesting motion effects.
This weekend my granddaughter and I will be putting up the Christmas tree. Maybe making the house a bit Christmas festive will inspire me, unlock my brain, and send me on a shopping spree. I certainly hope so. Nowadays I do most of my shopping via computer, which certainly de-stresses the process. I've never been a shopping fan; I start out enjoying looking at things, but in about ten minutes I just want out of there!

In trying to develop a sense of Christmas, I've been watching a lot of the sappy Hallmark Christmas movies, and now I have Christmas music playing.

You know what? I think it is starting to work. I may not have any good gift ideas yet, but I feel a stirring of Christmas Spirit!

By the time I prepare a few Christmas-themed Sunday School classes I think I'll be ready, both to appreciate the real meaning of Christmas and to enjoy the shopping, family time, gift giving, memory making, sharing, and celebrating. And then there is the Christmas Eve church service, which always is a special sweet, quiet, worshipful time. Hey, I might even bake some Christmas cookies with my granddaughter!

And I have a confession. I do like a good fruitcake! There, I said it.

Christmas is coming! Hooray!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Electronic Glitch; or, Why I Didn't Get Much Done

As I mentioned in a previous post, here, I've been listening to the book about George Washington on my Kindle Fire with the Audible app. This book takes 42 hours to listen to. My plan is to listen when I am doing something that requires hands but not brains, so I can concentrate on the book while getting something else, like folding laundry, done.

Yesterday I started listening while eating my breakfast. When I was ready to move on to something else, I tried to turn off the book and the Kindle. Oops! The Kindle goes into power saving mode while a recording is playing; the screen goes blank, but the recording still plays. The Kindle Fire has only one button on it, the On/Off power button. Everything else is touchscreen. To bring the picture back and manage the Fire, you tap the power button.

Well, I tapped. I pushed. I held it down. A lot. And the picture never came back. With a blank screen, you cannot do anything. So the narrator kept talking. I didn't want to just walk away and leave him talking while I was missing a lot of the book. That would mean that if I ever got the Fire working properly again I'd have to try to find where I last listened--not so easy on such a long book.

When electronic gadgets develop a glitch, the cure is often to turn it off, then turn it back on and it resets itself. But I couldn't turn the Fire off. My solution? Well, the battery had to run down eventually--automatic off!

I really didn't have anything terribly pressing to do, so I just kept listening. I printed out some photos, started some laundry, and played a lot of computer solitaire. I also was very drawn into the account of the early phases of the Revolutionary War. Then, in the middle of the story of the horrible winter in Valley Forge, which was helping me understand why it was so bad, the battery finally ran down. The Fire turned off. I recharged it and, sure enough, it now works fine.

What caused the problem? I have no idea. As far as I am concerned all electronic things work by magic anyway! And, now, it is magically working properly again.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Moon over Wyoming

I seem to have finished sleeping very early this morning. Since I wasn't sleeping I got up and looked out my window to see what the weather was doing. This is what I saw:

Misty Moon (and Venus) over the city.

It's still dark at 4:42 A.M.  I'm glad I looked out.

(I notice that the Blogger dater seems to be in a different time zone. I am posting this a few minutes ater 5--not 4 A.M.)

Monday, November 26, 2012


The calendar may say it's Fall, but this is what we woke up to this morning:

Winter Wonderland

It rained gently through Saturday night and through Sunday we had a misty moistness with occasional flurries of snow. It was wonderful for this dry country. Now the snow will help seal in the moisture. The snow may not last very long, but it is a beautiful blessing for now.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Our Nontraditional Traditional Thanksgiving

Turkey has become such a part of the Thanksgiving tradition that many people refer to the holiday as simply "Turkey Day." I understand why that is, but it makes me a little sad. Just as Christ's birth has, to many people, been lost as the meaning of Christmas, is giving thanks for our many blessings being lost from Thanksgiving?

Hmmm. I did not intend to start out with a sermon! I just meant to tell you that the traditional turkey was missing from our family's Thanksgiving this year. My daughter has written about this in her blog here. So I'll just add my two cents' worth.

Family and our friend Gwen gathered around the Thanksgiving table.
My son-in-law's parents were part of our celebration and we really enjoyed having them with us.
In keeping with tradition we gathered together, family and friends, for a meal and remembering how blessed we are. We had pumpkin, apple, and pecan pie for dessert, as well as cherry crisp.

Nontraditionally, we had lasagna for the main dish. We thoroughly enjoyed the change!

While I like turkey, dressing, and all that goes with it, it was a relief to simplify things. Anne Marie and I divided the meal; the lasagna and cherry dessert fell to her. I did the pies (mostly by baking ready made pies), the veggie plate (again, I bought the veggies already cleaned and cut up), and the fresh bread (gotta love that bread machine). As you see, the "real" cooking was done by Anne Marie. We gathered in my home for the meal--it works better because I have a little more table space and I don't have five dogs! The cleanup was also simpler than in years past. While certainly there was some, it was considerably reduced in volume and most of the dishes went right into the dishwasher.

It was a great meal, good company, and low stress. Perfect!

And I am thankful.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Puzzle Time

Granddaughter Megan is a jigsaw puzzle whiz. Winter has become our puzzle time. When we first decided to put together a puzzle, a few winters ago, we put the puzzle on the coffee table. Then, after several puzzles, I got a puzzle board that is made so that it can be closed up and stored with a puzzle in progress so that the table did not have to be out of commission for other uses. Now, we have moved up to a puzzle table. When we don't have a puzzle in progress, the table folds up flat and fits neatly under my bed.
The Champion Puzzler

The weekend before this one just past, Megan fetched out the puzzle table. We had one new puzzle from last Christmas that we had not yet done (we had several new ones last Christmas), so that was first on the table. We also have a new puzzle from our Yellowstone vacation (Kissing Moose) that will be up next.

While we both work on the puzzles, Megan is much better and faster at jigsaw puzzling than I am!

(In case you wonder why there is a spatula on the puzzle table, it is because the texture on the table holds the pieces where you put them. And when a section needs adjusted, the spatula is just the thing to keep the pieces together.)

Finished--From Sea to Shining Sea

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Just Because It Amuses Me

This picture was taken during the The Great Dinosaur Hunt.  I just think it is funny. Megan looks all long legs, like some kind of mechanical spider! (Forgive me, grandaughter dear!)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Another Kind of Country Club

Country Clubs have come to imply an exclusive, members-only place for the elite to gather, dine, socialize, golf, etc.

This is not about that kind of Country Club.

My grandparents lived 60 miles from the nearest town. Their nearest neighbors in the ranching/farming region were three miles away. It was quite an isolated life for the families living miles apart in the area. At some time, the women organized a club to provide some social life. It was called the Teckla Ladies Club, since that was known as the Teckla community, named after Teckla Putnam, the postmistress. You can read a little more about that here. I believe the club met once a quarter, though I am relying on a child's memory for that.

Some of the people gathered for the Teckla Ladies Cub c. 1944. The two little girls in the matching dresses are my sisters, Terry and Grace. I am the little girl in my grandmother's arms in the center of the group. The dog is our Boston terrier, Popeye. Teckla Putnam is the white-haired lady in the back row; her grandchildren, Forest and Lois, are in front of her.
One of the Club meetings my family attended took place during the time my mother was teaching the Teckla School. There were a few times when we happened to be visiting my grandparents at club meeting time. Club day was a big deal. The women cooked their favorite company dishes and brought them to whichever home was hosting. What a feast! Although it was called the Ladies Club, the whole family came. The men visited together. The children ran and played and waited impatiently for the great food they knew was coming. The women cooked and served the feast, then cleaned up, with lots of visiting as they did the work. It seems a little unfair that it was their club, but they were doing all the work! However, work shared becomes a social event in itself. I think there was sharing or working on fancy work, needle work, and such projects amongst the women. I am a little vague on this, because I was one of the kids running around playing and not paying any attention to what the "boring" adults were doing.

The children at the 1944 club meeting.

This photo is from a later club meeting; probably 1949 or '50. The girls present are standing beside my grandparents' sheepherder's wagon--the old time version of a mobile home. Shown are: Michelle, Grace, JoAnn, Lois, Terry.
Club Day was a great day in that isolated community!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Visit to the Vampire

Well, OK, it wasn't really a vampire--just a phlebotomist. I had to go in today to have blood drawn to check my funky thyroid's function once again. I've been feeling all right, so hope the results are such that the doctor doesn't want me to go back on synthroid. I did NOT feel good on that stuff. On the other hand, humans cannot live without thyroid hormones, so if I have to take it I will. I'm just hoping I don't have to.

I have nothing but praise for the skill of the phlebotomist--quick, easy, painless. But having this procedure again reminded me of the first time I had to have it done. I was in my early twenties and not fond of needles. The idea of having a hollow needle stuck in my vein and pulling out a vial of blood scared me. I was sure it would be very painful. I worried and fretted until the time I was scheduled to have it done.

I must admit it was rather anticlimactic (though pleasantly so). It did not hurt. It was over quickly. I did not miss the blood they took.

I have had many, many blood draws since then. Only about two times has it hurt, when a less experienced tech missed the vein and fished around under the skin for it. I even used to be a blood donor, but had to stop when my blood pressure began to be so high that they wouldn't accept me as a donor any more.

Today's blood draw took maybe a minute or two all told. The only time-consuming part of it was the check-in routine at the hospital. Now I wait for my doctor to notify me of the results.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

George and Martha

Quite some time ago I came across a review of the book Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. I was interested, so ordered the book. The book arrived, all 817 narrative pages of it (plus many more pages of notes and references). I started reading the book, but soon gave up--not because it is dull. To the contrary, I was finding it very interesting. The probelem, for me is that it is 817 pages of very fine print. As I have mentioned previously, I have certain vision challenges. Because of that, reading this book was very difficult for me.

I should have ordered it in Kindle format, where I can control print size. I ordered the actual book, because I knew it had pages of illlustrations (photos of paintings of many of the important people of the time) and the illustrtions would not be good on my Kindle. (I do now have a Kindle Fire which does better on photos, etc., but the Fire had not come out yet when I ordered this book.)

Recently, I subscribed to One day I thought about my unread book about Washington and checked in Audible to see if they had it. To my delight, they did. So now I am working on listening to the book, which is very well read--and I can flip to the illustrations section in the actual book when someone's name comes up. The recording is almost 42 hours long, so I'll be working on it for quite a while!

Today a name came up of a person who is not in the book's illustrations, and I turned to the internet to see what I could find. Well, I found him and that led to looking up others. Soon I was reading an article about Martha Washington. There was a picture of her as a young woman that had been made with facial age regression software. It is the same technique used to age photos of missing children, only doing a regression. She was quite a lovely young woman. Records still exist of orders she placed for clothing. From them we know she was barely five feet tall and very slender in her youth. The idea of George marrying an older, stout, widow for her money is one conjured up much later (though she definitely was a wealthy widow). Martha and George were both 27 when they wed, though she was eight months older than George.

Thinking about George and Martha Washington reminded me of another George and Martha.  Many years ago my parents had a pair of geese that they named George and Martha. They got a lot of enjoyment out of watching those two. My parents' backyard was fenced and sheltered on two sides by thick poplars and on one side by the house. On only one side, by an alley, could anyone easily see though the fence into the backyard. Alas, some busybody, who could in no way have been bothered by George and Martha, reported to the city that my parents were harboring illegal livestock in the city. They were forced to find another home for their geese.

It's sort of ironic that the geese had to go--today deer frequently can be seen in that yard. All around town yards are visited by squirrels, rabbits, skunks, deer, and antelope. But George and Martha were illegal immigrants!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Civic Duty

Well, I've done it. My daughter and I just returned home from voting.

I feel this is a very important election. I have tried to be informed about the issues and the candidates. I have cast my votes for what I truly believe will be in the best interests of our beloved country and all its citizens. I also know that there are good citizens of this country who have voted exactly opposite of the way I voted today. Soon we will know who will be governing.

May God bless and help the United States of America.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A C+ Day

I woke up at 4:30 this morning, for the usual reason people in my age group are up in the night. I came back to bed hoping that I could go back to sleep, but knowing that at that time of morning it was not likely.

However, I did fall asleep again. And, as I was in that early stage where dreams begin but the brain still works a bit on the conscious level, I saw a peculiar thing. Drifting past my mind's eye was a book. The dust cover was bright yellow. The title was printed in large letters, in an uneven line with the letters tilting this way and that. And the title was:

I'm Having a C+ Day

The dream picture drifted off, but I was so struck by it that I ordered my brain to remember it. Surprisingly enough, I did still remember it when I awoke more than two hours later.

I think that most days in our lives are C+ days. After all, we learned in school that a C stood for average. And most of life is fairly average and routine. It has to be--how would we get anything done otherwise? There is comfort in these average days, a dependability that we count on.

If we were to draw a line graph of life, the line would run along rather evenly with just an occasional bump or dip. But then there would be those spots where the line soared up or plunged down. We love those soaring moments, the high spots in life that thrill and gratify us. We eagerly look forward to those times. The plunging spots, however, are life's struggles, hardships, and griefs. They are our moments of despair that we never want to experience, and, having experienced them, never want to go back to. Even after those dreadful plunges, the graph line gradually moves back the the center--the C+ days.

I never wanted to see a C on any school paper or report card. I considered anything below an A a personal failure. 

But in life I am happy to have a C+ day!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Store It or Toss It

Three years or so ago I decided I needed to organize the excess stuff in my closet. I have limited storage space and the closet was really crammed. I went online and ordered a set of Space Bags. Guess what--they were having a two for one sale and I ended up with two sets of these vacuum packing bags.

After the bags arrived, I took myself in hand and decided that rather than storing a lot of stuff, I just needed to get rid of it. So I used the "have you worn it in the last year" rule and filled two or three big trash bags. The good stuff went to Good Will in Billings when my daughter and I were there. The less than great stuff went in the trash. Hooray! Closet space.

So, the Space Bag storage sets became, themselves, stored.

But, as you know, stuff accumulates. This time my problem was the stuff that was crammed onto the closet shelf and on the closet floor. Most of it is not stuff to discard, but stuff used only some of the time. Yesterday, having switched my bedding from summer to winter set, I decided to unearth the Space Bags and save some space in the closet.

Those three bags stacked on my bed contain the summer comforter, sheets, pillowcases, shams, throw pillows, and two quilts which are used sometimes, but infrequently. All of this now takes up less than one-third the space they previously used.

Hmmmmm--what else can I vacuum pack?