The Magic of Grandmothers

My grandmother was just about my most favorite person in the world. She taught me all about birds and animals and their habits. During the cold winters, she would pick out a good sized log (about 10-12 inches long) and had my grandfather bore holes in it so that she could stuff peanut butter mixed with bird seeds into the holes. Then she would hang it outside so that the birds could perch on the log and eat. The fat from the peanut butter kept them well-fed during the winter.

In the spring, she would show me where the birds liked to nest. She knew the names of all the birds and she taught me how to watch them build their nests in the spring and summer. When their babies were hatched, she showed me how the bird moms fed them just about around the clock until they were old enough to fly away and take care of themselves.

She never told me that I couldn’t climb trees; she just asked me to be careful. During the hot summer months, my grandfather would take the little wooden canoe out of the barn for me, so that I could paddle around on Mirror Lake across the road. It was fun to see the wildlife and the fish in the lake, and I learned to paddle quietly when I saw ducks and geese on the water.

Often my grandmother and I would walk back behind the house and into the meadow. There she taught me how to open milkweed pods to let out the silky white fluff along with their tiny brown seeds. Those little seeds would eventually fly away with the silk to land somewhere else to grow into more milkweed.

My grandmother also taught me how to sew. She sat me in front of her sewing machine, and talked me through how to work it. Eventually, I started making my own clothes, which turned out to be a lot of fun.

To this day, I think of both of my grandparents and all the things that they taught me. Now that I too am a grandmother to our two amazing girls, I try to live up to be the kind of grandmother that mine was.

I hope that I am that kind of grandmother.

Back in Business Again!

If by any chance you were looking for my post each day (and if you follow, thanks very much!), you will know that I was off the grid for a while. Suffice it to say that the Crankee Yankee and I are SO not tech savvy. Somehow we either totally confused our computer (and my email account) or had a massive brain fart; however we are back in business today. It boggles my mind that my nine-year old granddaughter knows far more than I do about computers. For us old farts, we just get on the horn and bug the oh-so-patient gal on the other end to help us out of our situation.

Bless her; she guided us out of our misdirections and helped us to get back on track.

Ok, that said, I also somehow lost (or left) my old flip-phone on a table in a restaurant quite a while ago. These days it’s a good idea to have a working one with you at all times; so sometime today the Crankee Yankee and I will go get a new flip-phone. I have totally given up being aggrevated about the young person behind the counter at Verizon rolling his/hers eyes having to deal with us old antiques

So, after all the kerfuffle this morning, we are back to normal; well, as normal as we two old farts can be. Wish us luck that we won’t do that again (whever we did to screw it up the first time!).

 

Nunya Your Business

As the presidential election is right around the corner, there are lots of signs everywhere on peoples’ lawns. Sadly, this often sparks what I call the Hate Patrol. If they don’t like who is on the sign, then anything may happen from threats to burn down that person’s house or to beat you up.

Seriously? Everyone has an opinion, and that’s ok as we live in a free country. What is not ok is to cause damage to someone’s home just because they have a sign declaring who they are voting for. It’s not ok to threaten someone because of their beliefs.

While living in a free country is a wonderful thing, not everyone can agree on who they want as president. Voting is a private matter. Quite frankly, it’s nobody’s business who we vote for. Ever since I was old enough to vote, I never appreciated anyone asking me who I voted for.

The last time anyone asked me who I voted for, I always say “nunya.” The person asking will then turn their head to one side and say, “who’s nunya?” And I tell them that it’s nunya business.

 

 

Cold Weather Food

As the weather has become quite chilly, this is the time that the Crankee Yankee and I start making what we call “cold weather food.” It can be soups or stews or homemade pizzas or chicken or turkey, baked with lots of stuffing. It’s also the time to bake blueberry pies and muffins to use up all the berries we picked during the summer.

But the best cold weather meal we enjoy is my late mother’s chili recipe (serves eight, by the way):

Ingredients:

2 T. shortening

2 lbs. hamburg

2 medium onions, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 T. paprika

1 t. oregano

3/4 t. cumin

1 T salt

1/8 t. cayenne pepper

3/4 t. pepper

9 T. chili powder

1 can beef broth

1 large can of tomatoes

1-2 cans kidney beans, drained

Next:

Brown the beef, onions and garlic in fat. When it is brown, mix in all the spices. Then add the beef broth and mix to get the ‘brownings’ off the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes; mush them upas you stir them in. Simmer for one hour or so, then add in the drained beans.

Simmer for for another half hour or so. Add a dollop of vinegar before serving. Serve with grated cheese. You may want to serve some homemade bread along with it; it’s always good to dunk your bread into the chili.

NOTE: The chili can be frozen for another meal.

The Crankee Yankee and I love this recipe, and we always look up to Heaven to thank Mom.

 

 

Gilbert and Sullivan

Years ago when I lived in Texas, I joined a wonderful theater group who put on *Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. I’ve loved those operettas all my life, and it was thrilling to be part of some of them. I did all the wigs and makeup, and I was always in the chorus. When I wasn’t on set during parts of the shows, I stood back behind the curtains to assist any of the actors who needed a quick costume change.

Now, you would think that shucking someone’s costume off within seconds and then cramming them into a whole new outfit would be embarrassing, but it really wasn’t. It was all about the timing, and that’s what counted. Also, before the shows went on, I did all the hair and makeup for everyone.

One evening we were going to a new theater in plenty of time to do all the costume changes, wigs and makeup for the show. However, when we got there, the door was locked! Somehow, the guy who was supposed to let us in simply forgot about us. By this time, people were starting to come by to get to their seats for the show; of course they couldn’t get in, either.

Time was quickly running out, and someone finally got hold of the person who was supposed to unlock the door. Once we got in, time was running out and we had to get into costumes and makeup as fast as we could. As I was the only person doing makeup, I lined up everyone and slapped on makeup quickly even as everyone was changing into their wigs and costumes.

Finally we were all set to go, and the show was a great success. To this day I still wonder how the heck we got it all together in such a short amount of time. But that’s show biz; you just have to roll with it and hope that everything turns out all right.

If you have never had the pleasure of seeing a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, do see one. You will not only laugh your head off, but you will be astounded at the music as well. I highly recommend the following:

  • H.M.S. Pinafore
  • The Pirates of Penzance
  • Patience
  • Iolanthe
  • The Mikado
  • The Yeomen of The Guard
  • The Gondoliers

*Gilbert and Sullivan refers to the Victorian era partnership of librettist W. S. Gilbert (1836–1911) and composer Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900). The two men collaborated on fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896, of which H.M.S. PinaforeThe Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado are among the best known.

Gilbert, who wrote the words, created fanciful “topsy-turvy” worlds for these operas, where each absurdity is taken to its logical conclusion—fairies rub elbows with British lords, flirting is a capital offence, gondoliers ascend to the monarchy, and pirates turn out to be noblemen who have gone wrong. Sullivan, six years Gilbert’s junior, composed the music, contributing memorable melodies that could convey both humour and pathos.

A Day at the Beach

The Crankee Yankee and I took a break yesterday to go to Hampton Beach. It was just one of those days that made you want to take your shoes and socks off and walk on the warm sand by the ocean.

We had a great seafood lunch, and then parked so that I could take my time walking along the beach. Granted, in this part of the world you don’t often see many good sea shells, but I did pick up a tiny slipper shell.

When I went to Hawaii, I walked on Waikiki beach nearly every day. Often there were beautiful pieces of white coral that washed up on the shore, and I gathered a few to take home.

There is something both soothing and magical about ocean beaches. Not only do they sometimes surprise you with sea shells and beach glass, but the soft roar of the waves are both calming and soothing.

I have loved the ocean since I was a child. I still remember the first time I saw the ocean; I was about four years old. While my mother was putting a blanket on the sand, I ran right into the ocean right up to my neck. My mother hated water, but she jumped in to get me. Even then I knew two things: 1) I scared my mother, and 2) I fell in love with the ocean.

During these scary and annoying days, it’s a good thing to go somewhere to take our minds off how things are right now. The ocean is forever, and it always calms and soothes. The sound of the surf reminds me that some things are forever, and many things are not. Hopefully the pandemic will eventually leave us one way or the other.

But in the meantime, there is the ocean, the lakes and the rivers. Take some time to enjoy them, and remember that this current situation will eventually pass.

 

 

When the Cat Knows What Time It Is

If you’ve read my blog, you know that the Crankee Yankee and I have five cats; yup—FIVE. If you have a cat you know how they have their own ways of getting you up every morning. The one that will really wake you up is when you hear that “huka-huka” sound cats make that can only mean that in the next second you are going to have to clean up some cat puke. To be fair, ours don’t do it on purpose, but then again they don’t think to run to the toilet, lift the lid and puke in there.

One of our cats, Bailey, has become the town cryer. When he feels that the Crankee Yankee and I should get up out of bed in the middle of the night (as in last night) to see what the cats are up to. As I’ve always said, they don’t have little kitty watches on to see what time it is to start getting us humans up, and even if they did, they would simply ignore the time anyway.

This morning was no exception; Bailey howled for no special reason except to get us up out of bed while it was still dark out. Although I’ve never caught him doing this, I really do think that Bailey actually knows what time it is. In his little kitty mind, we humans are only around to feed, water and groom the cats, and make sure that there are plenty of toys for them to play with.

Frankly I am not at all surprised that our cats know what time it is; it’s not the worst thing that cats can do. At least we don’t have a cat who willfully uses the telephone, like the cat who somehow dialed some poor sucker in Amsterdam. Go figure; only a cat would do that.

I am hoping that none of our cats decide to make phone calls.

I Really Don’t Know Clouds at All

Remember Joni Mitchell’s song, “*Both Sides Now?” I always think of her song when I look up at the clouds. I have seen them shape into teddy bears, dogs, flowers, hearts, birds and more. If I were a weather expert I’d know why the clouds take different shapes, but that’s one of those little miracles that I enjoy without knowing the “why” of it.

I don’t think that I’ve ever enjoyed the cloud patterns as I do these days. These days I am my own boss. I no longer work, and my time is my own. I now have plenty of time to read, write, play with our cats, go visiting our grandgirls now and then and writing this blog every day.

Sitting on our front porch is not only refreshing, but it is a time to enjoy those clouds, read a book, go for a long walk and so on, knowing that there is no hurry or worry these delightful days. After years of working, this time in my life is a gift.

The Crankee Yankee and I have plenty to do working on our house, picking the tomatoes and peppers in our garden, and so on. Our indoor cats have the life of **Riley (by the way, does anyone remember that show?), and the ‘outdoorsies’ have food, water and shelter. In our house, it’s good to be a cat.

These days I have plenty of time to look up at the cloud formations and admire them. These days, I DO know clouds and I enjoy them.

********************************

*Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere, I’ve looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done, but clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels the dizzy dancing way you feel
When every fairy tale comes real, I’ve looked at love that way
But now it’s just another show, you leave ’em laughin’ when you go
And if you care don’t let them know, don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud, to say, “I love you” right out loud
Schemes and dreams and circus crowds, I’ve looked at life that way
But now old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads,
They say I’ve changed
But something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all.

**The Life of Riley is an American radio situation comedy series of the 1940s that was adapted into a 1949 feature film, a 1950s television series, and a 1958 comic book.

How Mom and Dad Became Mom and Dad

My mom and dad were meant to be together. Mom had gone through a divorce when I was quite young, and she and I moved into a small apartment in Maine. At the time, she was working at the local television station. Mom’s best friend, Lucy, told her that there was a handsome young man who had just been hired to do the news and weather.

His name was Ned Bullock, and he came from Mirror Lake, New Hampshire. He found out that there was a great job opening in the TV station in Bangor, Maine. He liked the sound of it, and drove up to Maine where he got the job as an anchor man. Mom’s friend thought that he would be perfect for my mother. However, Mom was pretty gun-shy after her divorce, and she told her friend that she was not interested in meeting the new young man.

Part of Ned’s job was to host a game show every Friday. On that day he would say a sentence but miss one word; people were to try and guess what the missing word was. If they called in with the right word, they got a prize.

Now Mom’s friend Lucy still thought that Mom and Ned would be perfect for each other. On that Friday, Mom’s car broke down, and Lucy came to get her. It was just the time when Ned would ask his listeners if they could guess the word and win a prize. Somehow Lucy had found out what the missing word was. She told Mom what it was and made her call it in.

Mom figured that nothing would come of it, so she called in. By this time Mom was getting tired of Lucy trying to introduce her to Ned. As they were already near the station, Lucy took Mom in and introduced her to Ned.

I don’t remember what the prize was, but on that day Mom met Dad and the rest is history. Some prize!