Pets and What They Do For Us

If you have read my blog (and many thanks if you do!), then you know that the Crankee Yankee and myself are owned by five cats. Our oldest cat, Nala, is our one female, and she lets the four boys (Plumpy, Bailey, Jules and Scooter) know that she is the queen bee. Bailey was my mom’s and dad’s cat, and when they passed on, Bailey came to live with us. He and his buddy, Plumpy, like to snooze in the sunshine on the back porch (glassed in).

Scooter was a rescue cat; we got to know him when we saw him outside during the winter. We made a warm shelter for him, and fed him morning and night. But when the winter got really cold, we took him inside and to this day he seems pretty happy about it.

Our latest cat, Jules, was an indoor/outdoor cat. We worried about him crossing streets and being out in the rain and cold weather. So, as with Scooter, we made a nice shelter for him, and fed and watered him every day. The Crankee Yankee found out who his owner was, a nice girl who owned him and his two brothers. He told the owner about Jules, and she said that we could have him if we wanted to; we did, and he seems very happy living with us.

There is something wonderful about having pets. While cats can be aloof and a bit touchy some times, they are good company. It isn’t strange at all (for us, anyway) that one or two or three of them like to camp out with us during the night. At least once or twice a week, one of us will wake up without a pillow, as one of the cats have taken it for their own.

Having pets is a wonderful thing. Sure, they need special food, clean water and need to visit the vet for rabies shots and so on. Our cats do not go outside; we are on a busy street and we want to keep them safe. That being said, our cats have a HUGE amount of toys, treats and of course, attention.

Our cats pretty much rule the house. But at least they don’t use our computer.

Different Meal Times

I wrote this quite a while ago, but it still stands.


The Crankee Yankee and I decided a while back that we feel better if we have our “big meal” around noon-time. This means that, by 6:00pm or 7:00pm, a light supper works better for us. And since both of us like soup, it’s usually *tomato soup and crackers, corn chowder and pickles, or homemade chicken soup with lots of vegetables. We call them “cozy meals” in the cold months.

Sometimes we decide on good old grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. Or grilled cheese, tomato and onion sandwiches, or grilled cheese and ham sandwiches. Sometimes the Crankee Yankee will surprise me by making whole wheat blueberry pancakes and bacon.

Come summer when our garden is full of ripe tomatoes, green peppers, baby cucumbers, beets and lettuce, it’s time for salads. It’s fun to experiment with different dressings, curls of cheddar cheese, some walnuts or some chopped ham or chicken.

Sometimes for breakfast, I make oatmeal bowls. This was a “thing” not long ago, and it goes something like this: put 1/4 cup of oatmeal in a small container and add about 1/4 cup of milk to it. Add in chopped fruit, walnuts, shredded coconut, or whatever you like. Cover and put into the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, pop the oatmeal bowl into the microwave for about a minute and a half. Stir, add more milk if you like, and enjoy. It makes a good and healthy breakfast, which is not only healthy but makes you feel a little bit smug for having had a “smart” breakfast.

All in all, not a bad way to start or end the day; old people-style.

*My “recipe” is pretty simple; open two cans of tomato soup and two cans of evaporated milk. Stir them together in a medium-sized pot, and add sprinklings of basil, black pepper and toss in some grated cheese. Of course I have made my own tomato soup from our own tomatoes, but this is my “easy” tomato soup recipe.

Cats on Mouse Patrol

A few years ago, we had a mouse problem. True, there were only a few, but that few was too many. However, our cats dispatched them, and we hadn’t seen a mouse for a few years—until yesterday.

One of the cats got into our seldom-used closet in the living room, and behold and lo; there was a mouse in there. I don’t want to think just how he got in there, but I knew he had to leave.

So I picked up my mighty mouse trap; which is simply two small plastic cups. Since the mouse was trying to get away from the cat, I scooped him up in one of the cups, and put the other cup on top so that he wouldn’t escape.

I walked across the street where there is a huge juniper bush. I dropped the mouse in there and said: “do NOT come back. There are FIVE cats in the house, you idiot!” Hopefully, he listened.

However, it turned out that we had two more mice (proudly found by another cat). I did the same thing and told the two of them the same warning. Granted, this is the time of year when mice will want to get where it’s warm as winter is coming. While I don’t blame them for that, I still don’t want them in our house.

Besides, the cats feel that they have done their duty for the day. I swear that one of them looked me in the eye and said to himself; “you two would be USELESS without us! Go fry up a steak for us, will ya?”

For the record, I did not fry them a steak, but I did give them all a big handful of cat treats.


Growing Old Isn’t So Bad

Isn’t it funny how time goes by? I remember being young, living at home with my parents, going to school, climbing trees, skiing and so much more. I was strong and healthy and felt that I could do anything. I had endless energy, and I don’t ever remember being tired. In fact, it was hard to settle down to sleep; I went through all I did during the day, and I imagined what I would do on the next day.

I lived with my parents, my cat Henny, and life was as good as it could get. Even going to school wasn’t that bad at all. I enjoyed walking to school and I liked my classes and friends. My dad taught me to ski, and I fell in love with it. My dad taught skiing at the Abenaki ski slope, and I learned how to ski almost as well as he could. I never had the grace he had, but I did fairly well.

Then there was high school, then college, and then I was on my own. I moved out of my parents’ house and had a nice little apartment. One day when I took my laundry to the local laundrymat, I saw a cute little gray kitten sitting outside. I stopped and patted him, and he was so friendly. I was able to pick him up, and I brought him into the laundrymat and asked the owner if he knew the owner of the kitten. He didn’t, so I left my laundry there and took the kitten home, and named him Billie.

Years went by as they always do; different jobs, different friends, working in different states and so on. I got married to the totally wrong man, and a few years later we divorced. When I was living and working in Texas, I got a phone call from an old friend, the Crankee Yankee. At the time, he was a truck driver, and he said he was going through where I lived in Texas, and could he take me out to dinner?

And the rest is history. The Crankee Yankee and I have been married for years now, and we have five cats. The Crankee Yankee’s daughter has two beautiful girls and we go up to visit them and enjoy their company.

The fact that we are growing older each year isn’t such a bad thing; in fact, we seem to be having the best times of our lives. There are things about getting older that are surprisingly fun and interesting. We have gone through good times and bad times, but mostly good times.

When I look in the mirror, I don’t see an old woman. I see a woman who looks pretty dang good for her age and still has a lot to smile about. My habit each morning is to look myself in the mirror and say, “good morning, gorgeous!” You’d be surprised what saying that does for your day, too; try it and see.

Growing old isn’t bad at all. Besides, if you don’t like it, what are you going to do about it? Just roll with it, be kind to yourself, and look for the funny side of life; it’s always there.

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):


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


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.