Friday, December 31, 2010

BEST OF 2010

I was reading a forum about what the best thing that happened to a person in 2010.

What would you say?

Most of the answers were either a quest or a new person, whether it be baby or daughter/son-in-law. One person said that made it through it. Gotta think about it? :)

When I asked Tom, he said, "My wife got up every morning to go fishing." I was certain he would say he bought the optical shop. He stated although it made working much wasn't the high light. I am grinning because the first thing I thought about was catching a small mouth bass.

Many friends have taken trips, not only in the states but to Europe and beyond. Is that your case?

Surgeries? Certainly, for many, life changing.

Think about it. And I will too.

Happy New Year.


Friday, December 24, 2010


If you are not a person who watches LIFETIME channel and sat for hours watching soppy movies about Christmas, this post is not for you.

There is no blood and guts, no shootum down, roundum up. No horror, mini mun discussion about DNA and hardly a cell phone ringing with a new clue to some gruesome task. No one is on a slab in the morgue being cut open.

But they are in hospital beds
They are mending broken relationships
Santa in some form helps a little kid
Old people kiss without falling out of wheelchairs
Cooking is a family affair
There is always the prettiest tree, regardless of how ugly.

And then, there is the miracle. Regardless of where the story takes place, it always snows on Christmas Eve.

Now Kansas had mild winters. Sure we had ice and snow--just wait a few days. The parking downtown was saw tooth and wasn't cleaned out. I think the city had a teaspoon to clean all the streets. If you had a slope on your drive way, most likely your car would slide back into the street. Sometimes you couldn't get your car in the driveway, so you parked on the lawn were it would stay put.

I remember one year, before there were children in our household, my parents and grand parents all came for Christmas. There was no snow. And it gets pretty dirty looking on a cloudy day. I always said my family brought the snow and believe it or not, it seemed like a miracle.

Grandpa Benhard was getting up in age. I suppose he was 95 or 96 when he sent $5 to be spent on the two children. We bought a saucer sled. But there was no snow.

In North Dakota there is always snow on the ground at Christmas. The sledding hill near the dike is open for sledding and the warming shed is available at normal hours.

So if you live in a balmy sunny place like AZ, FL, or CA, maybe a miracle will happen and you will have snow this Christmas Eve.


Thursday, December 23, 2010


It is so important for all of us to realize that we gift to others with more than something physical. Two things happened in one day. One received and one blessing.

Before I go on, let's remember this: The one who receives gets the gift; the one who gives the gift gets the blessing. Let's not break the circle.

I rant and then, I rant some more. If a professional doesn't answer my question, I will stew about it.

So I went back to the eye doctor today. I already knew glaucoma was looming. No big deal to take eye drops at bed time and grow long eye lashes. But I have asked and asked "Why can't I see better out of my left eye"? I even beat my Sweet Thomas up about it. No one answered.

But this morning, I got the answer. The reason Tom could keep pushing the lenses to see better before cataract surgery was because he had a different kind of cataract. Okay. Now I know. Walk on.

I went to the pharmacy to get a prescription. While there, I saw a scrap booking lady. We were talking about die cuts, cameras, cell phone pictures and why people fill up camera cards without down loading them. Since she works with groups, she already knew the answer. Takes too long to delete them once on your computer. And I told her what I do.

Load the photos
Inside that folder (the are generally dated)
Make three folders
1. great
2. good
3. bad

Move pictures accordingly. Delete the bad folder. Keep the good to look at again. And you know the great ones caught your eye when you saw them, print time or put them on a disk. Her eyes got wide. Odd, isn't it, I have been doing that so long, I didn't give it a thought.

This is idea gifts. Try it, you will like it.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Yesterday, we talked about the supper on Christmas Eve.

Today, let's talk again about giving out of one's necessities not out of one's luxuries.

My grand parents saved there pennies. Grandma said of her husband Benhard, he could squeeze a penny so hard it turned into a nickel. I can hear her as I keyboard.

Their were five grand children: Greg, Bruce, Judy, myself, and Jim. Each of us got 200 pennies. I can't remember how they were presented.

Now, I am not a big fan of giving money as gifts but I am a great fan of appreciating what you get.

Which brings me to a friend in MI who is house bound. SHe gives money to her children, their spouses, and her grand children. She has found several clever ways to present the gift.

I adore this women. I wish I lived next door to her. [[I have a really hard time tooting my own horn]] but thought, I could make cards for her to put the cash in as a gift to her. When I asked, she accepted after a little wellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll oh my. I tossed out another idea for next year!

The fun began. I asked her what they did, liked, or collected. Once the cards were finished, I mailed them to her. She wrote to say she knew who each of the cards were for. I had listened. And besides, when else would I have a chance to say, NYUK, NYUK, NYUK for the son in law who likes the Three Stooges.

It was a way to give a gift of 200 pennies. And by that, I mean, something given in love.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


A long time friend in Texas wrote to say they were hosting family for dinner during the holidays. He will cook.

He said he was having meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. He would use his mother's recipe. I felt a shiver as I read it, as that is what grandma always had for Christmas Eve supper. Her meatloaf was bits and pieces of meat and potatoes she had frozen and saved to make enough to have meatloaf for eleven. Daddy said she cut it so thin, you could see through it. The plate was passed once with only enough for one slice and passed again when everyone had cleaned their plate.

The point I want to share is this: It was a feast. They not only fed us, but waited on us and ate AFTER we were finished. They were the pure hosting couple.

They gave out of their necessities not out of their luxuries.


Monday, December 20, 2010

I SHOULD NOT BE BLOGGING....................

..................rather, I should be running in circles and screaming.


Well, it is like this, for generations, if you wanted to give someone a photo, you sent it in and had copies made. Same with slides. No problem, except for the wait. Many times you could get a two for one deal and have that extra print without the price of the additional processing.

It all started when My Sweet Thomas was cleaning the basement and I helped. Now, you have to understand that cleaning the basement appears to be more than dust and sweep. For us, it turned into a major sorting project. That is when we found two radiator keys, an unknown key, a bolt for the French doors, and a tiny box of slides.

What sildes, you ask? Assorted. But two of Tom's pink Lincoln, and one of a mounted Wood Duck, which was a gift to Darrel, he brother.

Now some grown ups, when they have been together for awhile, say Christmas is for children and forget everyone has a child like heart, it just depends on just where or how deep it is buried. Tom's shows up and I grab the chance to go with it.

Oh, how he talked about that pink Lincoln. I thought about how much teasing grief he gave me about a yellow truck-- now I can get him good. TEEHEE

Of course, I have to get the slide into a photo to print. I own a marvelous Epston Scanner which does pictures, negatives, and slides. Of course, this is all electronic crap ola and has to be installed. It was installed in a lap top computer which has come and gone, rather given away.

I got the slides out and the scanner out and all of the lights came on but when I tried to plug and play into the mini lap, it didn't work. It was going to require software, where was that?

I rummaged about for well over an hour, looking in places I normally put it. I did not find it so I went up stairs again to see how we were doing on virus scan and Window updates. My mind cleared and I remembered that all software that came with an item was stored in the folder with the directions on how to run it.

In the big desk, filed under scanner was the software.


The mini lap, as some of you know, does not have a DVD drawer. Now where was that DVD Memorax thing? There are three bags, or cases, if you will: One is lime green and has the Mini lap in it, and the other two are black. I didn't see black 2 when I pulled black one off the shelf. Nope, that wasn't it, that was a portable DVD player I bought to use at the nursing home. So, I brought it down stairs and there was a small bag--indeed, it was the Memorax unit I needed to load the soft ware into the mini to run the scanner. Let's hope it works because it is not blug and play.

Once on the mini, I will flash drive it to an external unit and print it on the big printer.

Keep in mind that the only reason I would do this is because Tom needs a little child like junk in his life, too. We all do, in fact, it brings magic to me, as well and I hope I am never married long enough to him not to find something that makes him smile. And I hope that for all of you, as well.

I put the bolt on the French door, the radiator keys are in the drawer in this big honkin' desk, and when finished with the slides, I will put them in one of the boxes marked TOM'S SLIDES.

Friday, December 17, 2010


In defensive of myself, there are many things I know how to do. And then, there are other things that Tom does and I haven't paid attention. Like I said, he was tired last night and the dish machine didn't get done. SO this morning, it was on my mental list to do. It is a portable and although I am not found of portables, this one only has to be run every few days and since I don't do it, it doesn't really matter does it? Have I lost you yet? Well, I put in the detergent, I plugged it in, and I turned on the water. On the front panel, three lights were blinking; light wash and heated dry, and the start button. Okay, something was not right. Instead of reading the directions, I called Tom. No answer. I called Tom. No answer. I turned off the water. Read the directions. I called Tom. I had already read the instructions, unplugged and re-plugged in case there was a glitch. I had to press cancel, he said. Well, he wasn't all knowing either, because, as we all know, when we do something automatically, we don't think about how we do it, we just do it.

By this time my brain was remembering telling oxygen patients to unplug the machine, count to 20 and plug it back in. So we started over. Tech support for computers tell me to turn the phone line around. :)

"Press: Light wash", he said
(I was following him to the letter--not trying to be a poop). Nothing.
SO he says, "What lights are on"?
And I say, "Light wash".
And the phone is very quiet.
So I asked him, "Do I press start NOW"?
"Yes", he said.
Dishes are washed.

Tom had asked me a month ago, did I want a new camera, a flat screen, a very nice rod and reel? I could not commit. So the other day, he gave me a 'bonus' and told me not to spend it on anyone but myself. That is really hard for me to do.

I actually made my decision based on what I could do better if I had better tools. Not that it would make me more creative, if it isn't there, it just isn't there. I feel the camera has a couple more good years in it. I am not ready to up grade, I prefer not to spend that much time watching TV, I am not a reader unless I am looking for information. I thought about a bigger computer screen but mine is big already and it took a while to adjust to it. I don't need a new computer or another computer. I am not interested in a fancy cell phone with huge charges because I don't talk on the phone that much. But what I like to do, that is, what I get lost in, is scrap booking and card making and that sort of stuff. Last summer, Circut© came out with a new unit that puts texture into the paper. It can and will color the display. One can design and get some depth to the look. And I knew I was craving that when some of the cards got so fat this year I had to put them in padded envelopes. :).

So yesterday I spent time on line reviewing videos about the product and making notes on what it could do. Reviewing sights and learning what I could. It seems like a good bonus for me. Because the cartridges are so costly, I spent a lot of time on EBAY bidding on units, which, in the end, where 75% less than the highest price I saw. The idea is to build an inventory at the least amount of cost. The machine also allows the use of the cartridges I have for the little unit, which in its day was the top of the line. The bottom line is always, "What is it going to cost"? I would like to have it in place so I can make the first card for Tom in late January.

Oh, and another thing I couldn't do was read the old thermostat. But we put one in that makes sense and has big numbers. It won't be so bad if the old one wasn't so high on the wall and so tucked in behind something. Even though I can read it, I leave it alone. I know that at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, it is going to be cool. That is just the way it has always been.

Until a few months ago, that is, until I was trained, I could never get the 1.2.3 of just how Venetian blinds worked either. Tom showed me in a ring master type big movement way, so I know how now. :). It isn't the opening and closing, it isn't the going UP , the problem was in the coming down.

And those are my true confessions for the day.

Loving thoughts.

PS For those of you who are on a first marriage, you most likely did not negotiate house assignments. I cook, Tom does the dishes. One doesn't spend 25,000 minutes on the phone before you are together without some sort 'who does it'.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


One of the conversations Tom and I have this time of the year is about putting tinsel on the tree. Every year we talk about our mother's and how it was a one strand at a time whereas we, that is the partnership of ET liked to throw it across the room to the tree. Even Shirley talks about keeping the tinsel away from her toss it on husband.

The difference? Erna took it off strand by strand and saved it.

Our tree is finished! It is looking a little weary this year. Just can't bend those branches any which way but loose anymore. What is the first aid? Stick silk poinsettia flowers in the holes to stop the eye at the red instead of looking, looking at the holes. Does that mean we have a holy tree? Probably not.

This morning, while it was still dark, we put the 2010 ornaments on the tree. I just got a note from my daughter-in-law and they are too busy for a tree. My youngest uses a plant. But never the less, ornaments will be sent.

I am thinking about angel hair. We could do that this year but what a mess it would be to clean up! The only time we worked with spun glass was she we did a 24' mantle at the farm. It was pretty because the lights were buried in the angel hair.

Off to wrap stocking stuffers, wanna help?


Sunday, December 12, 2010


Old Trunks never did decorate a tree with popcorn and cranberries. Have you?

Our home tree never had paper cut in strips of red and green and pasted together loop by loop to form a chain, did yours? In grade school, the paper chains were draped everywhere. It was like a race to see just how many miles of chain one could make with paper, scissors, and glue.

When I was very little, we had a few glass balls which I remember so very well. Each of them was a pastel base color with a snow message attached. I loved to look into them. Looking at them and into them, as if I could see Christmas from the image.

It was the Christmas of 1952 when the last of the beautiful balls was broken. How, you ask. We were living in the 900 block of Arnold Avenue North. There was a huge picture window, which to preserve the heat, was covered with a thermo lined drapery, which was drawn at night. We had gotten a television that fall and that took the best place to put a tree. SO, we didn't have a tree, instead, a plan was in place to section off the picture window with hockey tape, (black stick to itself like tape used to tape hockey sticks on the part used to move the puck).

The edges of the window would be sprayed with canned snow, the perimeter of the window would have outside lights, (outside, of course), and from each of the pretend panes an ornament would hang with the use of another type of tape. In its glory, it was right out of the Victorian era.

And then............the draperies were drawn..AND then..............the window got cold and THEN the tape holding the balls let go.................and then, they fell, one by one and all the beautiful ornaments I had gazed into were broken.

And mother replaced them with plastic balls, and they fell off and BOUNCED.

And then, we gave up on the tape and put them directly into the hockey tape. Because the balls were so heavy, they pulled the tape to make it ~~~~~~~~~~~ wavy. Since it all looked like crap already, I learned that writing in the spray snow was fun. It was the end of the window decor. The next year we would have a tree with outside lights on it, ugly green balls and lots of tinsel....but that is a another story for another day.

Thanks to Shirley, the tree we had when we had children, had an ornament for each year. Shirley came to see us when Rachel was just a couple of months old and brought along a mini stocking which was hung on the tree and probably is hung on the adult tree of Rachel's now.

That started, and continues to be a tradition. Each year, although the three of them are grown and gone, an ornament is made or bought and sent. Tom and I started ornaments for the two of us, as well. This year, we needed ten ornaments for those we gift ornaments. For Tom and I, we start with the ornament from 1998 and work forward, hanging this year's bangle on last.

To me, it seems like a tree is a must have, for many, the concept has gone away.

I am thinking about someone I know that recently had a death in the family. They are not putting up a tree this year. From what I know of the person who deceased, I am certain he would reach down and pop them. Yet, they think it is out of respect to him not to have a tree.

What's you call on that?


Friday, December 10, 2010


Grandparents had candles on their tree. Can you believe it? What a fire hazard but that is what they did!

Flash forward to the seven strand lights if one goes out they all go out. Christmas eve was, for some years, spent looking for the bad bulb, even if they were all changed and checked and brand new at the beginning.

Daddy hung the lights. He was of the mind that lights should be somewhat hidden, certainly others liked them right on the outside. But he did not hunt for the missing bulb. In fact, it came to be that all the lights on our tree where outdoor lights, which all stayed lit when one or more went out.

Our lights were all multi color, until the year mother decided we would have all pink lights on a pink tree with pink bulbs. She got away with it but we were not allowed to touch the tree, in fear the flocking would fall off. One of the things that led her to this is simple: She bought a vacuum cleaner from a door to door salesperson, who used to be a boyfriend. Part of the hype was you could flock trees with it. I so do remember daddy trying to get her into the kitchen to talk with her about better sweepers for less money but she was determined.

Where our lights a tangled mess? Never. Why, because mother took the tree down when everyone was either at school or at work. Tree one morning, no tree in the afternoon. And you can bet everything was neatly packed for the next holiday.

When the 100 strand mini lights in white came out, I was in heaven. A chance to have hundreds of lights without heat! And hundreds we did have.

Then......I moved to Fargo and Tom was of the belief of less lights and multi colored. It has been resolved with all green and nothing flashing. To make up the difference we have white mini lights year around on an arrangement on the entertainment center and an artificial plant by the door. I am looking around for yet another place to put some! :)

Oh how grand to remember the bubbling lights which never stood up straight!


Thursday, December 9, 2010


For many of us, artificial trees, unless they were aluminum with a rotating stroke set to make the tree colors change, was not an option. I suppose in a city like we lived most people had a tree, one that had been alive at one time. As a child, I just assumed everyone had a tree. I am thinking maybe some people could choose a tree or a gift.

Ours came from a man that dug the basements for the houses my dad built as well as commerical buildings. Our tree was free. Well sort of. Another thing I didn't know is these trees were really tops of trees hauled out of Canada. I wonder if they spoke French?

Most of us remember a frozen tree, filled with snow and ice and it had to be placed in a warm environment to thaw. They always looked different once the branches had relaxed. It was Daddy's job to find the 'front', that is, the fullest side, most branches. It was also his job to cut it off, especially if the tree had a big knot on the base where it went into the stand.

Although I thought every tree was the very best. I do know there were bald spots and odd branches. I was told once we get the decorations on it, you won't be able to see it.

And so the tree stood for a few days filling the air with the aroma of evergreen. It would stand until an adult said it was time.

As a parent myself, Thanksgiving afternoon was set aside to go to the tree farm, at least for a few years. The children rotated in choosing the tree. Maybe we did too, I don't remember for sure as if I did have a choice I would have wanted a Scotch Pine~~You know, the kind where you get the last of the needles out of the shag carpet around Easter!

Now, when you go to a tree farm, these trees have been trimmed as they grew so you had a pretty straight and full tree before you took the saw and cut it down. But not always. More than one year we tied the tree to the wall to keep it straight.

I was sad that my grandparents did not have a real tree. They had an aluminum one which stood in the corner of their little living room. It was moved from in front of the picture window so there would be room for all of us to visit and have supper with them on Christmas Eve.

My other grandparents had a tree that was about a foot and a half tall. I wonder how long they had that tree. The branches were pulled forward to decorate, and pushed back for storage. Each branch end had a little red berry, many long since gone.

When Ryen and I bought the house and moved back, we had all white carpeting on the floors. When we went to do the tree, I thought we should do it in the kitchen for easier clean up. We are still laughing about having this tree beautifully decorated only to NOT be able to get it through the opening in the living room! Yes, we had to take it apart!

And it came to pass that Christmas would happen in 1998 in Fargo, North Dakota. I had tubs of stuff and Tom had boxes of stuff. I did not know, when I told the two of them to go through the directions there had been no tree in the house since his wife had died. I will tell you it was hard to breathe in the room as the two of them looked at each item. Suffering.

Tom and I where at Menard's looking around after Christmas early in our marriage. We came across these three trees mounted together on a common plate. It isn't very fat and it doesn't cover the Seth Thomas clock, either.

Although the decor is taken off, the tree stays on the main floor. It moves from the dining room to the living room at Christmas time and back to the dining room after the holidays. There are two decorations on it year around; two red birds, one for Bud and the other for his wife, Shilpa. At the base is a Chinese good luck cat, a gift to Tom from Ryen.

Next time, we will discuss lights! Do you have yours untangled yet?


Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Old Trunks is looking at the list of gifts/tips to consider to be the norm.

Let's talk about it.

Cost of one hair cut. So if cuts are twenty and the tip matches that, $40 is the normal.

A weeks salary and a small gift. It is said this is one profession that has really been hit hard by the recession.

Cost of one session

Now, this can be pricey. If you spend $100 on a trip to the shop are you really going to tip that much? How about doubling the regular tip?

When we had our trash picked up by real people instead of the automatic can lifter, Tom used to set out a case of beer for them. We never see them anymore. One guy drives the truck, if there is trash around the can, they do not pick it up. If your can is so full the lid won't close, the place a shame on you sticker on the can. If you set the can where they can not pick it up automatically, you get another shame on sticker. Thirty dollars is considered average.

Those of you who have it hired out, fifty dollars per person is the normal tip.

The price of one month's subscription regardless of how many times it is 'lost' or not delivered. I have to say the people who received their paper from one of my children where more than generous on a monthly basis. Now we get an envelope from the newspaper to put the money in.

A gift from you and a gift from your child. And the survey said, teacher's like gift cards. Mrs. Shaw retired. She had a garage sale. She sold hundreds of hankies and bottles of Cologne. I do have a mental rule about gifts: When you gift someone, it is now their property and they can do whatever they want with it. A lesson learned the hard way when mother put a turtle pin out for the garage sale for 25 cents. It was a gift I had given her the Christmas past.

Old Trunks is certain that is why I always encouraged my children to give me little stuff. I have a standing jewelry box and a curio cabinet full of little treasures from them. Would you like to come and look? I will happily share the treasures of their youth

There was to be a twist in the gifting this year. I decided last year, since I do not see my children often, and am clueless as to their desires, I would do money. Yet, I still can not do it. I can not, in good faith, fold any sort of cash and put it in an envelope and call it gifting. Perhaps it won't be 'just what they wished for' like when they wanted bicycles and sleds but at least they know they were thought about and imagination tried to find something unique as they are.

What's your take on this?


Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Why is it that magically the sun shines on the first day of December? November is a gloomy lot and it seems to be that way regards of where I have lived.

But November this year flew by. Perhaps it was because we were able to fish the first weekend. Maybe it is because most of the days fly by. It must be a sign of getting older. A nurse told my friend that if you talk about going to the bathroom, it is a sign of old age.

That reminded me of one of the most well read gentlemen I will ever meet. He was a newspaper man. He and his wife enjoyed traveling to the far corners. I will tell you if you knew him, you would adore him, too.

He had gone for coffee with other retired gentleman for several months and discussed the topics of the day. When his wife took a dementia like diagnosis, he decided they should move into a retirement village. As far as he knew, the topics of the day would be discussed with fellow retired folks. Alas, it did not happen. They were not there a week when he announced they would be moving. I asked him why and he told me even the males only talked about the number of pills and prunes, and of course, how big their elimination was.

His wife fell and was wheelchair bound shortly after moving into the apartment. It would only be a few weeks before she needed the kind of care he physically could not provide. He hired help and watched his retirement account dwindle.

He died

His wife went to the nursing home and did not have a clue as to how she had spent her life.

So, maybe, just maybe, I should shut my mouth about the lack of sunshine in November and whether or not the currants eaten at Thanksgiving have been current.

Maybe I should, and perhaps you as well, should be grateful.

Make a pack.

Have days of sunshine, even on cloudy days OR is that even when you are in a cloudy daze?