My mother was a remarkable woman. When she decided she really wanted to do something she learned how to do it. She just put her mind to it and did it.
Mom grew up on a farm. When they went somewhere of any distance they rode horses. She rode a horse to school.
When Mom was about 50 she decided she wanted to learn how to ride a
bicycle. She did not have the opportunity when she was a child. When her
children had bicycles she was busy raising us and did not learn. So she
never learned to ride a bike. Now she wanted to.
She went out and bought a bicycle. It was a bike made for a female which
I felt was a small mistake. For some reason boys' bikes seem to balance
better. But that was what she wanted.
Every day Mom went out for a period of time and attempted to learn to
ride. Sometimes she had family there and sometimes not. But she kept at
Mom finally got to where she could ride a bit. She was wobbly but she was riding.
My sister had just bought a brand new car... not used but brand new. It
was her first new car. She drove it over to show my parents because she
was very proud.
Mom was practicing her bike riding but stopped to ooh and aah over the
car. My sister went into the house to get a drink before Daddy came home
from work so she could show him. Mom kept practicing.
Soon Mom came into the house. My sister was sitting in there where it
was cool. Mom looked a little pale. Maybe this bicycle stuff was too
much for her.
Mom had to tell my sister that she had been riding her bike in the
street. She was doing so much better but was still not in complete
control of the bicycle. Mom had a "little" accident.
My sister was concerned that Mom was hurt. No she was not.
She had been riding up and down the street. She was feeling pretty good.
Then when she was almost finished she was in front of the house. She
lost control and started to fall.
My sister's brand spanking new car broke the fall. The handlebars of the
bike went right through the windshield of my sister's brand spanking
Now when I heard about this the loving big sister in me took over. I
laughed so hard that I almost could not breathe. I could not laugh at
Mom... it just is not done.
Mom did learn how to ride and was a good rider after much practice. To my knowledge she never "took out" another car.
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
What smells better than something baking or cooking? The good smells permeate the house and make everybody hungry. The smells often make a person feel good. They might invoke memories of a happy occasion of something from childhood. One of the things I like to smell cooking is apples.
Most people immediately think of apple pie. I love it myself. But there are so many other ways to use apples. I would like to share a few with you. Perhaps you will share a few of your favorites with me.
Here is one of my favorite snacks. It makes an interesting thing to serve with tea or drinks. It is also something the children can easily make and they love it.
Cut an apple into four or eight pieces depending on the size of the apple. Cut the seeds from each section. Fill the space left with peanut butter. You can use smooth or chunky. Or you can use cheese. Children like those spray cans with cheese spread. Arrange attractively on a serving tray.
I like apple dumplings. The way I make them is to take pie crust dough and roll it out. Instead of the round crusts for a pie I cut them into 6 inch squares. Into the center of each square place a large amount of apple pie filling (homemade is always the best). Pull opposite corners of the crust together and pinch them tightly. Then pinch the sides so the juice will not run out while cooking. A few fork marks will allow steam to escape.
I sprinkle the top with a bit of cinnamon and sugar with a touch of nutmeg. Place them in a long cake pan or on a cookie sheet and bake just as you would bake a pie.
My favorite way to eat apple dumplings is to put one in a bowl and pour milk over it. The hot dumpling and cold milk make a fun feeling in my mouth. Some people like ice cream on top of the dumpling while others like cheese. You can even eat them plain.
Cut into bite sized pieces apples are a tasty addition to any salad. They add a nice crunch to fruit salads and a sweeter flavor to garden salads. Here is my favorite fruit salad.
I mix apple pieces with bits of grapes, oranges, pears, bananas, or whatever fruit I happen to have. Then I mix a chunk of cream cheese with Cool Whip or whatever topping of that type is on sale. When it is evenly mixed I add nutmeg (you could use mint instead) for flavor and pour it over the fruits. Gently combine. This is so good it can even be used as a desert.
Apple sauce is good by itself. It is a good fruit for babies. It mixes well as a side dish with meat.And it is easy to make.
Peel, core, and quarter 3 or 4 pounds of cooking apples. Add 4 strips of lemon peel, 3 inches of cinnamon stick, 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar, about 1/4 cup of white sugar (depending on your taste), 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1 cup of water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil then lower to a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. After removing the cinnamon stick and lemon peel mash with a potato masher. If you want to make it even finer for a baby food you can mash it through a sieve. Serve it hot or cold. It can be frozen.
Really the only limit to using apples is your imagination. If you gave my mother apples the first thing she would make is apple butter. It is so good on a warm slice of homemade bread. You can line the bottom of your cake pan with apples coated lightly with cinnamon and sugar before your pour in the cake batter. Apple upside down cake. If you want to mix a few small pieces of apple in with the cake batter I am sure no one will complain.
If you take bread dough and mix apples with cinnamon and sugar and deep fry chunks of it you have apple fritters. Place a few apple slices in the pan when you are cooking meat and it will add just a touch of flavor and juice. You can even mash an apple and add it to meatloaf. The list of deserts is too long to show here but I believe you get the idea. If you are the really ambitious type you can make jelly and can apples for later use.
Raw apples are probably the best nutritionally and they taste so good. But they add so much to almost any type of dish.
Friday, July 21, 2017
The heat is getting to me. Even though I am inside most of the time with the air conditioning I feel wilted. I think it is a good time for me to take some time away from blogging. I will repost some of my older posts. I hope you enjoy them.
Great-grandpa, father of my grandfather, owned several farms and almost all of town. He wanted to have a farm to leave each of his sons. It turned out that he also left each of them a business in town.
You might think he was wealthy. Not so. My great-grandfather got his holdings in an unscrupulous way. He traded whiskey to the Native Americans for their land. It was not ethical but at that time it was legal.
My grandfather inherited a farm and I believe the assay office. He eventually sold the assay office because it was not his area of expertise. He lived on the farm and raised his family there until he decided the grass was greener in Oklahoma.
The only great-uncle that I knew still had his farm and house when I was a child. I would not know how to find the farm now but if the house is still there I'm sure that it now has indoor plumbing and electricity.
His house in town is still there and looks exactly the same as it did then. I saw it a couple of years ago.
Another great-uncle is listed on a monument in front of the City Hall. He died of illness during World War I and was listed with the war dead.
Great-grandpa did not feel the need to supply the same inheritance to his daughters. I guess he felt that when they married their husbands would provide for their needs.
None of the land or businesses are owned by family any more. I can only imagine what all that land would be worth today. I could be independently wealthy, for goodness sake.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
When I talked to my sister the other day I was left feeling sad. As you know she had a stroke a couple of years ago. She has been in a nursing home for several months now. She hates it but realizes that it is the best option.
She is still undergoing physical therapy. She wants desperately to be able to sit up and eventually walk. After such a long time that does not seem likely.
At least her mind and speech have returned. We have nice conversations about our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. We catch up on news about other family members. We talk of memories of our childhoods.
We were talking about making mulberry wine this time. Our grandparents had several mulberry trees on their farm. We would pick as many as we could.
Then we squeezed part of them into glasses of water to make our "wine'. The rest of the mulberries were in small containers. We ate the berries and drank the wine. They were fabulously glamorous tea parties for the sophisticates we pretended to be.
Somehow the conversation turned to longevity of life. I have already lived a longer life than either of my parents. My sister is getting close to the same.
I mentioned that I plan on living to at least the age of 81 years. I have always wanted to be one of those crotchety old women who say exactly what they are thinking. 81 seems to be the age I would be able to do that.
My sister told me she would hold me to that. Then she said that she had the feeling she would not be here much longer.
I asked her why she felt that way. Is there something someone has said? No. It is simply a feeling she has.
I was taken aback. I worry that she will give up. Her life is so difficult right now.
Her husband and son love her. Each visits her every day. My nephew told me she is doing well but sometimes she has bad days.
She also has a new roommate. The woman has dementia and is often delirious. She wakes up screaming all through the day and night so my sister is not getting much sleep.
Her husband is working to get her another roommate. I hope when she gets adequate sleep she will feel more positive.
Friday, July 14, 2017
My aunt was dating my uncle. No, silly, they were not brother and sister. My uncle's older brother had just returned from serving in the Navy during World War II. My uncle wanted to show his brother a good time so he asked his girlfriend, my aunt, if she had a friend they could double date with. My aunt's best friend was her sister who agreed to the blind date.
The brother was a good-looking young man of 20. He was glad to be home after the horrors of war. He had an outgoing personality. People liked him immediately upon meeting him.
The sister was beautiful. At the age of 17 she had just graduated from high school at the very top of her class. She was shy but confident.
The two hit it off immediately and began to see each other regularly. My aunt and uncle eventually went their own ways and married other people. The brother and sister married each other and had a long and happy marriage. You have already guessed that the brother and sister are my parents.
My father worked as a truck driver for a time. As was the custom at that time my mother stayed home and took care of domestic things.
For their honeymoon they actually spent some time at my mother's family's farm. One day as an activity they decided to go hunting. I'll never know why because shooting was not something that interested Mom. It must have been love.
Anyway off they went. Mom had a shotgun, I don't know what kind of gun Daddy used. They had been gone for several hours before they came back. Daddy was carrying Mom. Somehow she had shot her self in the foot. She was not seriously injured but I can remember seeing her through the years picking a little BB of shot that would surface from her foot every once in a while.
Daddy was a sports fan. Again because she loved him Mom would watch or listen to and sometimes even attend a game. She soon because as avid a fan as he was. When we were older and had families of our own Mom would say, "You are welcome to come over for New Years Day (or most other holidays). I'll be cooking and there will be plenty to eat. Just don't get between me and the television while I'm watching football."
Daddy on the other hand never really understood why we did not live at home when we started our own families. He said there was plenty of room. He really did not understand it.
My parents had seven children. There were also 6 pregnancies that did not make it to term. Can you imagine a family of 13 of us? I was the first. One year later came a brother, next year another brother, two years went by before I had my first sister. After another two years came another brother.
My youngest brother was getting ready to start school and was worried about who would take care of his mother while he was at school. My parents took care of that by giving us another sister. Then five years later our youngest brother was born. There are fifteen years between me and my youngest brother.
When my father came home from war he brought a kimono for his wife and a kimono for his daughter. He did not know about either of us at the time. He wanted a little girl and I was it. You can only imagine how special I have always felt because I was truly the twinkle in my father's eye.
Our parents loved us. there was never a doubt for any of us We didn't have a lot of things. Money was scarce. But time was spent with us and we always knew it was because they wanted to not because they had to.
A short time after my father died I dreamed that he came in the door at 4:00 like he did every afternoon. Only this time he had been gone for a long time. He was carrying a ditty bag like sailors carry. I was so happy to see him that I threw my arms around his neck and held on for dear life. Everyone else in the family was looking on with their mouths open in shock.
All except Mom. She stood and stared for a while then she walked over and examined his neck (that I still had a lock on). She backed up to the wall, crossed her arms, and said, " I hope you know I spent all thst money." She was talking about his life insurance.
Of course she had not spent it all but that was my mom. She was practical and Daddy was more impulsive.
I was a little hesitant about telling Mom about my dream but I told her. She started to laugh. It turned out that she had dreamed about him recently too. He had come back and all she could think about was how she was going to repay what money she had spent for his funeral.
I hope you can understand what good parents I had and how lucky I was that I was their daughter. I used to hear my friends complain about how terrible their parents were. I truly never felt that way.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
I briefly met two of my husband's aunts and and an uncle on his father's side. I did not know them enough to be able to write about them. Most of the aunts and uncles on his mother's side were gone by then so I did not know them either.
Then there was Aunt Tony. She was Mom's older sister. Mom was the baby of her family. Tony was a nickname but that is how we all knew her so I will not bother with her real name.
Aunt Tony was a real character. From what I have been told she and her husband Jack loved to fish. Their usual companions were another aunt and uncle. My sister-in-law has told that they were all very close but on several occasions Aunt Tony and the other aunt would get into physical fights. I can almost picture them rolling around and pulling each other's hair.
They always made up immediately and were best friends again. I have many photos of them showing off the catch of the day.
Aunt Tony had no children. I heard a rumor that she had a baby out of wedlock way way back in time. If it is true she gave it up for adoption. But it could just be a rumor too. I do not know.
Aunt Tony married Jack. I believe he had children from a previous marriage but I never met them. He was not liked by many in the family. I did not know him well. He died shortly after my husband and I married.
Aunt Tony worked at the same factory as my sister-in-law Shirley. They were both hard workers and highly thought of.
Jack did not have an outside job. With Aunt Tony's earnings he purchased three apartments buildings. They were all in a row. Jack and Tony lived in the first floor of the first building. He saw to all repairs and managed the tenants.
Family hated that Jack was a huge baseball fan and attended the World Series every year. He saved all his tickets, score books, and signed baseballs from each one..When he died each nephew was given a signed baseball from the collection.
That was also the year Aunt Tony gave each family a nice 8x10 picture of the two of them as a Christmas gift. I still have it. It is a good picture. Some people were offended by it. I think she loved him so much and wanted the rest of us to feel the same way. It was a piece of herself she gave. I appreciate her for it.
She liked to cook and to entertain. Several times she invited us newly-weds for a meal. We would sit in the kitchen and talk to her as she cooked. She was good company.
Aunt Tony also liked to drink. As far as I know it was only beer but she often overdid. Mom often clucked her tongue and said things about Aunt Tony "high stepping" when she walked. Mom did not approve of drinking. Too many of her family died as the result of alcohol.
We went back to visit one year when our two oldest sons were very little. Of course we went to visit Aunt Tony. She proudly gave them each a quarter. My husband looked at the boys and said, "Now what do you say?" My oldest son looked at her and said, "Where is my penny?" She laughed and went to get them each a penny too.
Aunt Tony was generous. Her husband had been frugal with her money and invested it well. She was careful about spending because that was her habit. But she liked to buy things for others.
Once my husband and I were visiting from the big city. She invited us in for the afternoon.
When we got to her house she insisted we walk downtown with her. She bought several small items for us. None were expensive and she chose them. She also chose cowboy hats for us. They were the most costly of her purchases.
Aunt Tony had been keeping company with a nice man. She cared a great deal about him. She was telling us at that visit that he was taking a driving trip through Colorado and Wyoming. If she paid her own expenses he wanted her to go with him.
She was agonizing about whether to spend the money. I finally told her that she should go if she wanted to. That is what her money was for... to enjoy her retirement.
She decided in the end not to go. She was worried about spending the money. He went alone.
Two weeks after he came home he died of a heart attack. I think the lesson is to take your opportunities when you can. She could have had memories of the trip with a man she cared about.
Aunt Tony died. She still had the apartments but they had run down a bit. There were all sorts of treasures found in her attic when they went through her things. My mother-in-law was her beneficiary.
The buildings were sold and are still being lived in. She was a giving and loving woman.
Friday, July 7, 2017
Isabella is our dog. She is getting older and has a tough time getting around but she still fancies herself to be a great hunter.
When I first moved here my son and Isabella had been here for quite some time. Even though we live in an extremely small town we keep her on a chain outside. It is for her own safety. She likes to chase (after a fashion) cars. She does not have the sense to stay far away from them.
In the back yard she has a shorter tether. It keeps her from running into the neighbor's yard. He is a little afraid of her even though she is mostly bark.
My son likes to tell the story of her chasing a cat.
There are feral cats all over town. I see fewer here than when I first moved. That is probaly because of Bella.
My son had fastened her collar to the chain in the back yard and he was talking to the neighbor. One of those feral cats sauntered into the yard. Bella took off after it barking and snarling as she ran. The cat was running for its life.
The cat ran at its top speed. Bella was fast on its tail. The cat ran. Bella ran. Then she came to the end of her chain. Just like the dog in the cartoons Bella abruptly jerked to a stop. She flew into the air with her legs still trying to run. She landed hard on her back as my son and the neighbor laughed.
In the front yard there is a cable that my husband strung between two trees. They are the length of the yard. There is a small chain that slides along the cable that we attach to Bella's collar. She can run the length and width of the yard freely.
She likes to argue with the squirrels that climb around in the trees and they like to argue with her. We often hear the barking and chattering until we make her come inside because we cannot stand to listen any longer.
When I was new here Isabella liked to chase birds too. We had to keep a close eye out because she would catch them and kill them if she had the chance.
We were watching the baseball game one evening and heard an awful scream. She had caught a bird and it was screaming in fear and pain. My son tried to get it away from her but she finally put it out of its misery.
But she is older now and her legs do not work well. Some days it is all she can do to climb the steps to get into the house. No more bird catching... or so we thought.
The other day my son heard a bunch of chattering out front where Bella was. Thinking the squirrels might take advantage of her condition he went to check on her.
There were no squirrels. Odd. But there was a goldfinch raising all kinds of a ruckus.
My son looked again at the dog and saw that there was a female goldfinch in her mouth. After she let go of it we gave it a proper send-off.
The thing is that she does not eat them; She just enjoys the chase.
She knows she is not supposed to. It is almost comical the way she slinks into the house. Of course my son yells a bit at her to make her let go of the bird but otherwise we recognize that she is an animal with animal instincts. But if you could see her looking so guilty you would have to laugh too.