It’s That Time of Year!

 

gift-cup-for-blog

A gift mug brings happy thoughts of the giver!

Yikes! December has arrived and shopping days are dwindling! The first things on my list are the fun things… like fun mugs for morning coffee or tea. Okay, I love mugs! So I’m sharing my list. This should get you started on your own list. Click on the image for more information and then browse –

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN NICE!

Silly Stuff first:

Inspiration:

For Your Best Friend:

For the Moms on your list:


For the Dads:

Keep calm and shop happy!

My Favorites:

Tomato Worm, or What?

tobacco-horned-worm

What’s eating my tomato plant? You know, of course. I thought I did, too, but as it turns out, I didn’t.

Day after day, my tomato plant had more stems without leaves. I kept looking for the culprit but couldn’t spot him. And then when most of the leaves were gone, I found one small green worm with the familiar white stripes and horn on his backside. I couldn’t believe he did all the damage, kept looking, and found his siblings, two of them.

By this time, the tomato plant was almost stripped so I decided to let nature take its course. But… I began to wonder — Where did those tomato worms come from, and what do they become? Since the usual routine requires pulling the little suckers off and a lot of green gore, I figure very few of them make to butterfly stage. But my curiosity was engaged and I had to find out. (I’ve written a lot of nonfiction for kids so I’m trained… when I say I had to find out, I mean, I had to find out.)

So I did a little research.

And the results were surprising! If you want to do your own research, check this out?: http://www.colostate.edu/Dept/CoopExt/4dmg/Pests/tomato.htm

A tomato worm is green, the exact shade as the tomato plant, has eight stripes, and a dark blue or black horn. They mostly eat tomato plants but some other plants as well… mostly veggies. And, they turn into…. drumroll, please… a creature commonly known as the hummingbird moth.

But, the worm on my plant has seven stripes and a red horn. This creature is not a tomato worm. It is a tobacco worm! And, furthermore, its diet is not limited to the list given in my research. After devouring the tomato plant he moved to my nearby, very healthy, petunia! And then he became slimy green gore!

tobacco-worm-on-petunia

But the most amazing thing I found in my research – another drumroll please – You can order hornworms from Amazon! And some other stuff, see below — Who knew!

Monday Morning Blues? Not me.

My week_edited-1

Monday morning blues? Not me. I like Monday. But I didn’t as a child. Modern technology has changed my life and attitude.

My mother’s Monday was a day to dread way back when.

She pulled the wringer washer out and set it up with the tubs. In the early days, she pumped water from the well. It took several buckets full to fill the washer and rinse tubs. If she used hot water, she heated it in a teakettle on the stove. If Daddy’s work clothes were stained with axel grease or oil, she soaked them in gasoline while she did the rest of the wash, one sorted pile at a time, in the same wash and rinse waters.

The wringer had a hand crank on the side and she ran every item through the wringer into the first rinse tub, repositioned the wringer, and ran the rinsed items through to the second tub… and when that was done, the items that would be ironed were tossed in a dishpan of starch and wrung by hand. This was not an easy task since Daddy’s jeans and overalls needed starch… and wringing them out by hand was no easy task. His work clothes would have been the last load so she may have used the wringer for them. If not, my mom’s hands must have been much stronger than mine.

Next task, carry the basket of wet wash from the front porch to the clotheslines out back and hang each item on the line with clothespins… and hope for a sunny day so everything would dry before it rained.

A few hours later she brought the laundry in, folded the sheets, towels, washcloths and underwear. And then she prepared the rest for Tuesday’s ironing. She sprinkled each garment, rolled it, and placed it in the basket. When she was done, she had at least one bushel basket full and covered it with a couple of towels to keep it moist until the next day… Tuesday.

Monday’s unique chore was laundry but the family had to eat three meals. So she cooked, fed the family, and cleaned the kitchen between washday tasks.

Of course, things improved for her. We got electricity soon after we moved to the farm and some time after that running water in the kitchen. And then a water heater. She used the washer in the kitchen, didn’t have to pump and heat the water, and the hand crank was replaced by an electric motor… Still… I like my Mondays much better than the ones I remember from my early days. (However, I have a vivid memory of diapers freezing by the time I put the second clothespin in place) I love modern technology… it’s Monday and here I sit at my computer. We don’t have a clothesline and I’ll … well, you know… washday isn’t all that big a deal these days. If the drier buzzes and I’m doing something else, it can wait.

Viva-la-difference!

We were somewhere between Chickasha and Oklahoma City when Dan’s cell rang. He was driving so he pulled his phone out of his pocket and handed it to me.

It was our son and I’m sure he expected to get his Dad… after all, he had called Dad’s number, not mine. But he had news to share.

Son: “I’m staring at a snake and I don’t know what to do.”

Me: “Where is it?”

Son: “In my house.”

Me, frowning: “You have a snake in your house. How did it get in?”

Son: “It’s just a little one…. probably crawled in under the door or something. It’s a baby and can’t tell what kind it is. Don’t know if it’s poisonous or not. I don’t know what to do.”

All I heard was baby snake… Doesn’t matter to me what species, if it’s a baby, well mother instincts kick in. Don’t know why I reacted this way. Son is MY baby. Anyway, I wanted to find a safe way to get the baby out of the house and set him free. (And, I forgot Son had called his Dad) So… Me: “Do you have some tongs?”

Son, I could hear the puzzlement in his voice: “I suppose I do…”

He didn’t sound likely to hunt tongs, so I offered another solution. Me: Capture him under a container of some sort, then slip a paper under the container, turn it over, and carry him outside.”

Son: Silence. “I’ll think of something… Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.”

Me: “Okay. Be careful!”

Call ended and I turned to see the smirk on Hubby’s face. “I would have told him to stomp it with the heel of his boot.”

I gasped and then remembered the country gal I used to be would have done the same thing. The city girl I became would have screamed for help… and the soft-hearted grandmother I am, would have found a way to save the baby snake. I smiled.

Son called again a few minutes later with news to ease his mother’s mind. “It’s all taken care of,” he said, “and then changed the subject.”

This morning, I realized he hadn’t called his dad for advice. He called to tell the story of the snake in his house… man to man. I think the poor baby snake had already met his end before the call, and Son protected his mother’s gentle heart. His dad and I are not the same and Son knows the difference. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lilac Tree Song

apples and lilacs_edited-1

May is Mother’s Day month. I think of my mother often but maybe a little more in the month of May. Today I’m remembering the old song, The Lilacs Tree. It’s about young love and a promise for one kiss when apples grow on the lilac tree. My mother sang this song during a school program when she was in the first grade. It might have been her school stage debut. Her teacher was Mrs. Wilkes, who taught third grade and gave expression lessons after school. She also directed the grade school programs and plays.

About twenty years after Mama’s debut, Mrs. Wilkes was still teaching third grade, giving expression lessons, and directing the school programs. When spring came and time for the end of school program. Mrs. Wilkes decided I should sing the song my mother sang.

Mama made my outfit out of pink crepe paper. I think the body of the dress might have been cotton broadcloth, but the ruffles were crepe paper. My outfit included pantaloons and a bonnet. Mama made them all. I was far more pleased about the outfit than singing on stage. But, I did it and made Mama and Mrs. Wilkes proud (I hope!).

So, this week, I’m thinking of my mother, the song we sang… and the outfit she made for me. It’s a sweet memory and I love lilacs… With my eyes closed, I can almost smell them now.

P.S. If you’d like to hear someone else sing this song here’s a link to YouTube: https://youtu.be/qgi_DDpxD00 

She’s is a little older than I was… I like my outfit best. 🙂

A Book to Love

Steph-reading

This was a Granny suggestion – Harry Potter suited her better.

 

I saw a note on Facebook this morning that went something like this: “I get sad every time I hear a person say ‘I don’t read.'” Saddens me, too. But I’m more interested in why they don’t like to read then trying to tell them what they are missing. I’ve been there, and it’s a waste of time. For many years in my early life, I didn’t enjoy reading. And no one could have convinced me that I was missing anything.

Way back then, they couldn’t correct my vision problems all that well, and reading was very difficult for me. In fact, once I outgrew the large print and short sentences in picture books, reading was a struggle. From the mid-grades on, I read what I had to in order to make good grades including the required number of book reports. But any extra reading was pretty much off my to-do list.

Mama thought I should read what she read, but a thirteen-year-old didn’t care that much for Agatha Christie or Earl Stanley Garner. Trying to figure out who done it didn’t appeal to me. I liked the romance Grandma read but Mama didn’t allow True Story, True Confession, or Modern Romance magazines in our house. Ah, but there was a way around that – the small store in town sold outdated magazines with the cover removed. Five cents each or three for a dime. My Saturday allowance would cover a small stack of magazines with a little left over for a sack of penny candy to enjoy while reading.

After few issues of romance slipped into my stack of movie magazines, and I discovered that story is king. When a story pulled me in, my vision seemed to improve, the reading struggle ended as the joy of reading became a reality.

Later on, I read The Cry and the Covenant, Marjorie Morningstar, Battle Cry, and On the Beach. None of these was on Mama’s approved reading list. And, they had little else in common except that soon after I started reading, I wanted to know what happened next. Once I discovered that some books would keep me reading through the wee hours, I loved reading. I had found books to love.

Back to those sad words. Maybe those who say, “I don’t read” will find on their own that they are missing out. Remember when readers discovered Harry Potter. Kids and adults who didn’t read before couldn’t wait for the next book to be released. And long before that, I stood in line at a bookstore behind a boy (I’d say he was about eight) with Clan of the Cave Bear in his hands. He looked at me and whispered, “This is the best book I ever read.” And, there was love in his eyes as he gazed back at his treasure. Now, I’m thinking he had borrowed his friend’s book and how he was getting his own copy. Back then, I couldn’t believe a boy that young could read well enough, or sit still long enough, to read Clan of the Cave Bear. It was this thick – 495 pages! But, I have to admit, I was right there with him, I couldn’t wait for the next Jean Auel release.

Reading is a completely different experience that watching TV, playing video games, or participating in sports. There is room for all these activities, and more, in everyone’s life. But if you don’t enjoy reading, it’s time you found a book to love. You are missing out!

 

 

 

October–Be Aware

I’ve been planning to write about Breast Cancer Awareness Month and now time is running out. Keeping schedules and mammograms up to date–that’s part of what October is about.

Until recently, my mammogram month was August. Then it was September. This year it slipped to October and I was greeted by new equipment. Now it’s digital and 3-D. It was easier and faster and I was pleased. But more than that, it’s far a better diagnostic tool.

We’ve come a long way, gals!

I started having annual mammograms earlier than most since I have cystic breast disease. I have to shake my head when I think of my first mammogram. It must have been in the late 60s or early 70s. I don’t remember exactly how they did it but it involved two inflated balloons! I was more interested in what the nurse was doing with the balloons than the x-ray machine. It may have been an invention of my personal physician and his patients may be the only women x-rayed with their boobies compressed slightly between two balloons.

Technology advanced and before long someone invented a rather large, dedicated mammogram machine with clear plastic boobie smashers. The first ones required the insertion and removal of x-ray film plates between each view, a lot of breath holding, and I’m not sure the first technicians took cover behind a protective shield. Then the patient had to wait while the film was developed, and if the patient had snitched a slight breath and blurred the picture, more x-rays were needed. The room temp was low and those plastic places were cold. It wasn’t fun.

Sometimes they laid a marker on the lower plastic plate to indicate right and left. But later… Remember those little pasties with the silver ball in the center? I usually forgot to take mine off.

A few years ago, digital x-rays came on the scene replacing the x-ray film and development time with an instant view on a computer monitor. Great progress and technology has continued to advance. I think the digital equipment has been updated at the Imaging Center here in Duncan about three times in the last eight years.

I’m always happy to see updated equipment because it means a clearer, more in depth view more likely to spot trouble early. However, according to the letter I received, there was no evidence of trouble but even with this fancy, state of the art equipment, this diagnosis in inconclusive and we women must do our own exams on a monthly basis.

So… October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month but we must always be aware. Be alert, gals! Check your boobies every month and keep your annual mammogram appointment.

 

The Real Cowboy Dad, Part. 2

Daddy worked hard and played hard. For most of my growing-up years, he dedicated his free time to preparing for rodeo calf-roping contests. He had the same attitude toward calf roping as he did farming. He always wanted to be better, maybe the best, at whatever he did and he put in the time and money needed to achieve his goal.

He loved the rodeo competition. Calf roping is a timed event where cowboys compete to beat each other’s time, tossing a loop of rope over a calf’s neck, dismounting the horse, throwing the calf on the ground, and tying three of its legs together with the piggin string the cowboy carries in his mouth during the chase. Timing is exact  and segments of seconds count. A well-trained cowboy and roping horse are essential to winning the competition.

Daddy, like all the other roping contestants, was always looking for a better roping horse. Timing was everything and a roping horse was trained to back into position, wait, and Gallup after the calf at the exact second it had gained its head start. And then, when the lasso slipped over the calf’s neck the horse stopped and pulled the rope taunt to hold the calf in place until the cowboy dismounted and ran to throw the calf. It’s serious business with a jackpot at stake. Daddy wanted practice so he built his own roping pen on a couple of acres behind the barn.

And I was hired to man the calf and chute. A dime a release. My timing was also of utmost importance but sometimes I had a little trouble opening the chute gate at the exact moment Daddy and the horse were ready. Some days on the job are just hectic for a ten year old.

Once I was pretty good at opening the gate on time, Daddy gave me more responsibility — And getting the calf in the chute from the pen turned out to be a little above my pay grade.

“Twist his tail and get him in there!” Daddy would say.

I concentrated on managing the young calf that outweighed me by a few pounds (I’m not sure the mom with the wet hen temperament knew about this). Still, what Mama might have said didn’t matter; I knew how short Daddy’s patients tended to be. I twisted that tail with all my might. It wasn’t enough. By this time, Daddy may have decided his daughter belonged in the house with Mama (or, maybe Mama decided). And I earned my dime pulling off his smelly boots at night.

I wasn’t all that sad when I lost my dime-a–release job, although I loved penny candy. If you’ve spent any times around young calves, you probably know their tails swish flies and get in the way of some bodily functions. I’m not sure how Daddy managed the calf release in my absence but I think he asked some of his competitors to practice in his roping pen. You know, a few seconds riding and roping for a calf release.

I can’t remember just when Daddy stopped riding in the rodeo but  my son has good memories of watching his grandfather compete in the calf-roping contest. At some point, Daddy traded his roping horse for a golf cart. After that, he and my husband spend many hours on the golf courses in Oklahoma and San Diego. However, age and arthritis took their toll and the day came for Daddy to trade his golf cart for a … I don’t think he’d want me to finish that sentence.

 

 

The Real Cowboy Dad ( Part 1)

Daddy and Mama married young but Cowboy Dad was probably a little older than he was in this photo.

Like his father before him and a long line of grandfathers, Daddy was a farmer and rancher. He might have been the first cowboy in our family.

Daddy always took his non-farm activities seriously. The first I remember, flying lessons. About once a week, a small airplane would land in the alfalfa field near our house. Daddy would climb aboard and fly away under the tutelage of his instructor. I was pretty young, maybe five, and I remember talk about Daddy’s solo flight and shortly after that, the small two-seater stopped landing in our alfalfa field and Daddy’s flying days ended.

I later learned the story from my mom — not sure if it was the first solo flight or one shortly thereafter — But it seems that Daddy got a little over-confident and buzzed our house. I think I remember standing on the front porch during the fly-over. As it turned out, something happened that Mama and I couldn’t see as he flew over… Mama said he scared himself… and Daddy never flew again. Instead of becoming a Flying Dad, Daddy turned to riding and roping… [amazon_link id=”B00BEKDP8E” target=”_blank” ]Cowboy Dad [/amazon_link].

In real life, the rope that sailed through the air and grabbed Little Brother and me round the middle was real, not imaginary. Most of the time, Daddy used a cotton rope in the house. It was a fun time for Little Brother and me. In fact, it’s one of my favorite memories. But, one day, Daddy came in from ridin’ and ropin’ with a real rope in his hand. Of course Little Brother and I were ready for play. We dashed across the front yard, yipping and yelling. “You can’t catch me! You can’t catch me!” Daddy couldn’t resist the challenge and he let the rope fly…

…Just about the time Mama stepped out the door. “Don’t you dare put rope burns on those kids!” She shrieked. I think our fun ended right then although Little Brother and I weren’t ready to stop. I don’t remember anything about any rope burns… well, not much. A rope does scrape as it slides down the side of one’s neck. What I remember most is that it was really fun Although we anticipated the whirring rope sailing through the air… And, we were ready. I’m pretty sure it was a gentle toss.  Daddy wasn’t ready to face Mama’s wrath… She could get madder than an old wet hen when the thought her chicks were in danger.

My Special Day

Today is my birthday, I’m seventy-three.

It seems like yesterday I was eighteen and going away to college. That’s when my life began. Until then, I was in training, under the tutelage of my mom and dad.

Only yesterday, I was eighteen and met the man I would marry. Only yesterday, I was nineteen and marrying the man of my dreams. Only yesterday, I was twenty-one, holding our newborn son in my arms. Only yesterday, I was twenty-four, holding our newborn daughter. Only yesterday… the years flew by. The kids grew up, married, and gave us grandchildren. More years flew by, the grandchildren grew up, and now our fourth great-grandchild is on the way. My, how did it all happen so fast?

At thirty, I discovered my dream to be a writer and followed it… and now that I’m seventy-three, I’m still following that same dream. My, why is it taking so long? Yes. I’m a writer, the author of many published works: magazine stories, newspaper articles, books, and a blog. Still, my dream isn’t complete… there’s always another book to write, and the dream that my next will be my best.

My goals are all part of my dream. When I reach one goal, I dream up another. They’re my promise to myself of tomorrow’s potential.