Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Monday, December 27, 2004
It was so good to have my family here. We had a great day. The weather was beautiful & time was spent outdoors. We have a lot of south facing windows, so the house was toasty warm for Mom. Paul & Janice hosted a soup supper for Dan's family on Sunday evening. Only two of his brothers were able to attend, but I was glad we were together because, like me, Dan lost his father this past year also. It is so important to keep family ties.
I received an email from a fellow rural carrier in Iowa saying a RCA (rural carrier associate) aks "substitute carrier" was killed Christmas Eve day on the route. This is tragic news. It is a reminder to follow all safety rules each day as the carrier was hit broadside after running a stop sign. My route is 96 miles and there are a lot of stop signs and it is tempting to roll through This tragedy is a reminder not to put my life on the line just to get done in less time. Also, the same goes for anyone traveling anywhere anytime.
The tax year ends in just a few days. There are a few steps that can be taken to reduce 2004 taxes. I am going to do a couple.
Now, on to my thank you notes.
Sunday, December 26, 2004
This quote is from a Christmas card we received this year. I immediately put it on the bulletin board by my computer because I wanted to be reminded of this beyond the holidays.
When does a moment become a memory? I have celebrated 58 Christmases now and when I think back, it is interesting what immediately comes to mind. Of course, there are the church and school programs and the associated candy sacks. The candle light services that not only are beautiful but the heat from the candles seem to warm the heart.
Christmas and gifts are synonymous, of course. I remember a "baby buggy" I really wanted for my dolly and a ring and wool coat when I was in high school. I remember every purse I have ever received because I love them so much.
Sometimes it seems I recall gifts purchased or received by others as much as my own. My mother always bought a close friend of hers Channel #5 as a Christmas gift. The memory of watching her open that gift and recalling how much she appreciated it is probably why, to this day, it is my favorite and I always wear it when I am going someplace special. One Christmas my brother wanted "sock feet boots." He was so excited when we found our gifts that year. I also remember how disappointed he was when one Christmas about all he received was pocket knives because he mentioned he would like one.
Dan is the best Christmas shopper there is. When it gets close to the Holidays, just about anything I say I like, he buys me. Then he is so excited, he gives the gift to me right away. When my kids asked me yesterday what their Dad gave me, I had to started with the Hoover floor scrubber, the large coffee pot, the leather coat, and lap top computer all received before December 1st. What did he put under the tree? A turn knob for the steering wheel in my mail truck! And, he says he is not done--there is something else he wants to get. He sometimes acts the hard guy but he has the kindest heart of anyone I know.
Well, anyway, as to moments that become memories--my point is we don't know. My hope that the traditions and gifts of the Holidays are as special for my husband, children, grandchildren, and friends as they have always been for me. Then, maybe, the memories will become moments a second time around.
Friday, December 24, 2004
As I write this, I am thinking about my Dad. This will be the first Christmas without him. We will all be thinking about him as we gather for prayer because we turned to him on those occasions. We will laugh alot and talk too loud because that is what our family does. His legacy lives on.
All Is Well
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Once again I must tackle the house--at least I have the decorations up. I would like to wash some windows, but it is very cold today (16 above). Don't think I want to be dipping into a bucket of water outside. The porch is very warm because of the sunshine, so I am
going to work out there this afternoon. Heck, I might just fire up the stove, put on some music, get a beer and take a short soak in the spa. No, that would not be smart--I must keep to task!
The menu for Christmas will be ham, potatoes, oyster corn, green beans, and rolls. The family is bringing salads and desserts. Dan is stopping by the store to pick up my groceries. I sure appreciate him taking over the shopping.
Well, it is time to "hit it." Will post my progress tomorrow afternoon!
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
As I said earlier, each year I receive gifts of cookies, cakes and candy from my customers. I don’t know how I could have a group of such good cooks in one area.
So, I am going to have a contest where I pick the entries and the winner. In all fairness, there are some gifts that I just haven’t been able to taste yet. The entries below have been tasted and in some cases completely consumed. They will be in no order of tastiness.
Kathy was the first in. Actually, she brought her warm, gooey cinnamon rolls in to the post office the first of December. They were wonderful.
John has the reputation of peanut brittle. Actually, we kind of work him on this. We start around Halloween with a reminder when we see him about how much we love his brittle. Tom, the Postmaster, and I both received a sack and it was superior as usual. He spares no peanuts.
Jeanne and Nancy are a mother/daughter team. Their cookies are excellent in that it is a creative, yet simple plate. Every entry is superior in flavor—it is hard to beat a plate where every cookie is good.
Sandy gets a nod because of her sheer volume. She doesn’t just bring at Christmas. We have delicious entries from Sandy all year. Her brother is a fancy chief so she has secret ingredients which pull her entries up a notch.
Geneva’s plate is a hard one to beat because of her use of the best ingredients. Her cookies taste like pure butter. She uses some kind of pastry thing that makes little butter cookies that are excellent. Also, I love those cranaisins (I think they are dried cranberries) with Black walnuts in an oatmeal cookie.
John’s muffins—what can I say—they are absolutely the best. He makes some kind of basic muffin recipe and then crams in a ton of stuff such as butterscotch chips, walnuts, and who knows who else. They are wonderful. I also “hint around” for these anytime I see him out at the box. (I am not proud)
The last entry is Dale’s cookies. Dale does not get fancy. He specializes in just one kind. These cookies actually melted in my mouth. They are so good, that I think I will freeze a few to take to Colorado Springs so the family (all excellent cookie makers in their own right) can taste them. I am not sure what basic recipe Dale uses, but he puts dates, nuts, chocolate chips and possibly the kitchen sink in these bad boys. He told me today when he met me at the box with the cookies that I would not be able to eat only one. He was absolutely right.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Monday, December 20, 2004
There is one thought, however, that is keeping me from completely feeling the joy of the season this year and that is the hideous crime that occurred in Missouri by a woman that only lives about 30 minutes from my home. I need not even mention the crime because it has been on National news and in newspapers all over the world. My thoughts have been with the family of the victim and the baby. I can not imagine how the mother that found her daughter is dealing with this tragedy. And, as I think about the family of the lady that committed this crime, I wonder how they are dealing with the future.
The CNN news article had an interview with the minister of the church in Melvern. He mentioned the name of his Christmas sermon yesterday was "A Baby Changed It All." He had written his thoughts several weeks ago, but hoped it's message would help comfort his congregation in this time of disbelief and sadness.
The message of Christmas is the story of the birth of Jesus and the hope he brings to each of us. Let us pray this is comfort for everyone, including those dealing with a tragedy beyond belief.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
The kids left around 10:30 am and I was just starting on the kitchen when our neighbor brought honey from his own hives down. It is a delicious gift that we enjoy well after the holidays. We had a great visit with Chip, as always.
We then met with our Card group for our Christmas dinner at 3:00. It was delicious food and good talk. Everyone was ready to play cards when we left for Kansas City to meet with our friends from South Carolina.
We have known Dwight & Cheryl since we were married. Within the first few months of marriage, they moved across the street from us in a trailer court in Emporia. We were going to college at that time. We have remained friends since, and until the past 7 or 8 years, have lived in the same area. When they moved to South Carolina, I feared we would drift apart, but we have stayed connected by always managing to get together when they come here. (Their son lives in KC) We have been to South Carolina three times also.
I could spend a lot of time writing about our friendship with Dwight & Cheryl, but I better save it for another time. I see it is late and tomorrow will most likely be the biggest mail day before Christmas.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
We loaded the kids and arrived on Massachusetts Street around 10:30. Lawrence's downtown is a four or five block area of unique and old fashioned stores. There are several chains, but mostly locally owned. We started at Waxman Candles. The candles are a bit pricey, but definitely worth it. I wanted just the small pine scented kind for my little candle holders in the living room to give my fake tree a scent.
We window shopped at several stores--one of my favorites being a southwestern store that has unique jewelry and accessories. Had I not had my Christmas list in hand, I would have gone in to look around. Instead, we went several shops down to the kitchen store. This is a little shop and it is jammed full of wonderful stuff. Aaron stayed right with me and we made a couple purchases and exited without incident. He definitely is growing up.
From there we moved on down to the toy store. This was a wonderful experience for all of us. They had a little display room set up and the boys were able to actually play with some things. There was a lady demonstrating toys (what a great job). I managed to buy the grandboys cowboy outfits without getting caught. Rather than the hats, I liked the "Davy Crockett" coon skin caps. They didn't have vests, so I might have to sew something up this week. After all, what is a cowboy outfit without a vest?
At 11:30 we headed to Free State Brewery to avoid the rush. Everyone has their own opinion about where to eat in downtown Lawrence, but we think this is the best. I had a portabella mushroom sandwich. It was delicious--so was my Wheat Ale.
After filling up, Kim and I made our way a couple blocks down to the Etc. Shop. We always have to check out this store if we are shopping together. If I remember right, we bought her prom dress there 15 years ago. It was a unique little black dress that she liked so well that she wore it her junior and senior year. They don't sell clothes anymore, but it is still a great shop.
We did "make a turn" in Everything But Ice just to see what was there. We looked at the antique mall, but decided Marc wouldn't appreciate us taking that long. There was one other store I visited, but if I say someone who might read this will know what I bought!
From there it was grocery store and home. I only have a few things left to get. Christmas shopping should be like this--the actual buying is as much fun as the giving.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Today we received a Christmas greeting from the Robller Vineyard in New Haven, Missouri. Dan and I have enjoyed a fall trip to the Missouri wine country for years. We have gone by ourselves, but it is also a fun trip with friends. It is only a five hour drive from home so it makes a nice weekend outing. There are many vineyards in the Hermann Missouri area. Over the years, the Robller Vineyard has become our favorite.
Let’s see, under the “ramblings of a winemaker” I learned,
I am glad to hear of a good Norton harvest as I do enjoy that particular wine. It is a dry,dark, rich wine that is delicious with a meal or sipping in the hot tub.
"We had the biggest grape harvest ever. Despite a little rain, the mid
August harvest of Vignoles proved to have good fruit. The Vidal harvest
was very large—so large in fact that we sold two tons of grapes to another
winery. The Norton grape was the last to be harvested in August and it
Under the “notes from Lois” (the winemakers wife) we learned of the Louis and Clark 200th anniversary celebrations. New Haven is on the Missouri River which was a primary L & C route.
One part of the Christmas letter that caught my eye was under the “upcoming events.” In February, seven Hermann area wineries are hosting a Missouri River Wine Trail Chocolate Event. Guests can visit the participating wineries and get a sample of wine with a great chocolate desert. Robller Vineyard Winery will be serving Chocolate Pasta with Norton Raspberry Sauce. The dish will be chilled chocolate pasta served on a pillow of whipped cream and drizzled with a sauce made with Robller Vineyard Norton and fresh raspberries and served with sweet Vignoles or sweet red Kasselfest.
This is the first entry on my 2005 calendar!
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
When I opened my emails tonight, there was a note from Chip saying he and Tom had come up with the name Casanova. According to the bio Chip sent me, Casanova, a handsome stud, was a wonderer with a love for the ladies. Men tended to not like him, although probably admired his prowess. Yup, Casanova is a perfect name.
Monday, December 13, 2004
Our Christmas Party consists of eating out. The past several years we have chosen to eat at a locally owned Italian restaurant called Constantino’s. The food is excellent and as Louie was quick to point out tonight, made from scratch. We all wondered why the local population flocks to the chain restaurants on the west side when Louie’s place is available, offers authentic Italian and competitive prices.
In small, locally owned restaurants, the owner is often there overseeing the operation & makes a point of coming to the tables to visit. Louie stopped by our table several times during the course of the evening. His children went to school with several in the group so there was catching up to do.
Actually, Louie Constantino is a well known name in the Topeka community. He has operated restaurants in several locations over the years but more notably he has been an oldies radio personality. His on air name is Louie Louie. I think he has hosted oldies shows on every radio station in Topeka at one time or another. He has been on American Bandstand with Dick Clark. I doubt if there is anything he doesn’t know about 50s and early 60’s music.
His restaurant is downtown at 10th and Quincy. Try it, you will probably meet the real Louie Louie!
Sunday, December 12, 2004
The location was the Grace Episcopal Cathedral in Topeka, hence “Grace-full.” Grace Cathedral is magnificently beautiful with high curved wooden beams and native stone. We attended a wedding there several years ago and the pipe organ brought tears to my eyes. The Cathedral has many public musical concerts hence a wonderful setting.
The Sunflower Harmony Chorus is female; however, they retain the classic male style of unaccompanied tenor, lead, baritone and bass ringing chords. Their selections included “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” “Who Would Imagine a King,” “The First Noel” and “Silent Night,” which is always beautiful when harmonized. We especially enjoyed the quartets. Classic Edition was a past international champion and ZING! a reigning regional champion. All the quartets were good, but these two especially had such evenly matched voices that their harmony sounded as one. At the end of all the songs there was a slight echo effect that brought chills.
There was an afterglow with coffee and cookies and all the quartets performed additional songs. The evening was a musical Christmas treat.
Friday, December 10, 2004
Thursday, December 09, 2004
What exactly is in this Monster burger? Suhr reports the super-supersized burger contains two 1/3 pound slabs of all-Angus beef, four strips of bacon, three slices of cheese and Mayonnaise on a buttered sesame seed bun. This giant widow maker contains 1,420 calories and 107 grams of fat. Jay Leno quipped on "The Tonight Show" that the burger comes in a little cardboard box shaped like a coffin.
According to Suhr, Hardee's isn't the only fast food chain to offer these calorie tanks. The Web sites of the larger fast-food chains report the Double Quarter Pounder with cheese at McDonald's has 730 calories and 40 grams of fat. The Burger King Double Whopper with cheese, 1,060 calories and 69 grams of fat, and the Wendy's Classic Triple with cheese 940 and 56.
A statement in the article suggested Hardee's approach was questioned at a time when airlines say America's growing waistlines are hurting their bottom lines, costing them more in fuel. Chase Squires, a St. Petersburg (Fla) Times reporter suggested holiday air travelers go lighter on the airlines and "have a stick of butter instead. That has only 800 calories and 88 grams of fat. We could always wrap it in bacon."
I try to eat healthy and watch my fat and calorie intake, but I am ready to try this big guy. However, I think Dan and I should split the meal and of course we will order a diet coke.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
This proved to be true today. I have tried to learn the art of linking words to web sites for several weeks. Finally, just in passing, I mentioned it in an email and in two sentences the problem was solved and it was right in front of me. Thank you again, Shannon!
Maybe we don't need to be highly intelligent if we learn to ask the right questions.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
To start the day, I woke up rested with seven hours down. That is unusual for me because I have a problem with staying up too late. I arrived at work to find everyone in a good mood because we had a little reprieve in the usual Christmas mail. Then, when I went out to load my truck to leave on the route, the sun was shining for the first time in at least four days. That meant less mud and warm bones.
I was no sooner in the house after work when Doug called. It was good to hear his voice and how hear how his family was doing. Then, the best news of the day came in a call from Kim. They sold their house in Garden City. What a wonderful Christmas present for them. We never expected they would be able to sell it so near the Holidays. I am feeling very happy for them.
Yes, this is a good day.
Monday, December 06, 2004
“What’s the Matter With Kansas” is a book written by Thomas Frank, a Shawnee native, but not a resident for some time. Mr. Frank’s book did get some attention in the state because it painted a grim picture of the economic conditions in our state and its towns. I have not read the book so I will not comment on its content.
What do most people know about this state? Well, there is the “Wizard of Oz,” KU basketball, it is geologically flat and, oh yes, and there is that band. The fact of the matter Kansas is a well kept secret here in the lower 48. The economy is robust, the air is clean, and there are fewer people. Yet, we have two major universities; we are close to a NFL team as well as baseball. We have the beautiful flint hills, fertile crop land and cities that offer excellent shopping and restaurants.
Both Dan and I were raised on farms and my brother continues to be successful there. Dan is self employed in new home construction and he has been busy. Of course, there have been down years, but perhaps we weathered them better here because that is the way of Midwesterners—do what needs to be done, no matter if it means working harder to make ends meet. It has been good here in the middle of the country and we do not think there is anything “the Matter” with us.
Oh, and one final thought, Kansas was quoted as being the “Jayhawk State.” We are not the Jayhawk state, the Kansas University mascot is the Jayhawk. And, by the way, Douglas County, home of Lawrence and Kansas University, was one of the few, if not only, counties that voted blue.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Everyone knows each other so the party flowed along well. As I said, I work with a wonderful group of people. I am afraid the spouses feel like we are a bit of a clique though. That reminds me of a PO story from my past. I started working as a substitute rural carrier in 1979 in one of the larger stations in Topeka. At that time, I was only one of three females working in the station. Back then we didn’t have weekly talks about sexual harassment so I pretty much just ignored the stuff that went on. If it got out of hand, I made some comment like “hey, that’s enough.” Actually, for the most part they were all good guys, but just not used to having a female in their midst.
Each year the station had a big Christmas party. I was anxious to fit in so Dan and I took our two little ones and attended. What a difference! All these loud, boisterous men were there with their wives and children and you would have thought we were at a church social. They almost avoided me. I don’t know if they thought I was going to talk about work or what. I have a rural carrier friend whose husband was a city carrier during that time and we still laugh at those how those men changed their tune around their wives.
As a result of those early experiences, I have always made it a policy to never say anything in front of the people I work with that I wouldn’t say to Dan. It’s been a good policy and everyone I work with follows the same rule. I think that is why we all get along so well.
Friday, December 03, 2004
So, Sunday afternoon all nine of us plus spouses and children are coming here to eat Mexican food. My sub was previously married to a Hispanic lady so he learned authenic cooking. He is in charge and the rest of us are going to hang out in the kitchen and help when possible. We are making a gallon of sangria so that should help with the creativity.
Our office has had "everyone helps cook" parties before. One year we had chicken & noodles over mashed potatoes. All of us were in the kitchen adding stuff to the pot. I am not sure what all went in there--I do know we caught one person trying add Tabasco. It turned out delicious and no one could ever duplicate it. Last year we did fondue. That was fun--partly because it took so much time & wine to get through the meal. Several years ago we had a chili dump. Everyone makes their own recipe & we dump it all together.
Dan & I have purchased the groceries for Sunday. All I need to do is get the house ready. One small problem--I have to work tomorrow. Oh well, these people know me well enough that I won't worry if the house isn't it top notch shape. With all that is going on the next two days, I might not have anything on here until Sunday evening. I will post a run down then. I'll get a picture--it should be a fun party.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
We have something akin to Interstate 70 for deer behind our house and, up until this week, its been busy. Most of them appear to be young although, to me, deer are smaller than expected. There is one nice buck with quite a rack that has been in the neighborhood for several years. I have not seen him this year, but I did briefly last year. His rack is distinctive in that it is straight up rather than wide.
Our neighbor called tonight to report he spotted a Mountain Lion. We highly respect his knowledge of game so the stories we have heard about them in our area are true. Wow, would I ever like to see that bad boy!
I am a firm believer in the need to thin the population of deer. If the hunters don’t, they will be hit on the roads. I do find myself hoping that big buck continues to elude the hunters, though.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
The general feeling was that we were due for something new and tonight has set that up. We have a baby that somehow will be different, we have at least two people on the island that weren’t on the plane and then there is that weird Locke.
The latest Entertainment magazine has five theories. I will list them with the plausibility (1 to 5) and then an informed opinion by the writers/producers, J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof
Theory 1: The survivors actually died in the crash and the island is purgatory. Plausibility 4. Informed opinion: “That’s a cool theory, but there are people who have died in the plane, so it would have to be a qualified purgatory.”
Theory 2: There was only one survivor—perhaps Jack—and the island is a dream; other survivors represent aspects of his personality. Plausibility 2 Informed opinion: “That theory is absolutely correct, and the character is J.J. Abrams.”
Theory 3: The island is a giant lab for mad-scientist experimenting as in The Island of Dr. Moreau. Plausibility 3 Informed opinion: “It’s a piece of a much bigger picture,” says Abrams. “It’s not the big answer.”
Theory 4: A catastrophe has thrown the world upside down and killed the entire population, save for these survivors. Plausibility 4 Informed opinion: “That is absolutely a possibility.” says Lindelof. “What’s amazing is that we can do an entire season without answering what happened in the outside world.”
Theory 5: Aliens crashed the plane, placed the survivors in a zoo-like habitat, and now are just screwing with them. Plausibility 2 Informed Opinion: “Isn’t that an episode of The Outer Limits?”
This is very interesting. Definitely there are representatives of every type of personality.
This baby is going to be born next week--I'll be there.
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Doug also said the word in the Springs was that the mountains were looking good for the Holidays. I am excited as our family might have a ski day Christmas week.
Skiing is one activity everyone in our family enjoys. Even though our grandkids are too small right now, it won’t be long before they have those skis (or boards) pointed straight ahead, flying down hill with the adults yelling at them to slow down. I know this because it doesn’t seem that long ago that our kids were doing just that.
The freedom and beauty of skiing down a slope on a sunny day in the mountains cannot be matched
Monday, November 29, 2004
This year, I am having two large Christmas gatherings at our house so I will need the table where we usually set the cedar tree. Today, as I drove my route, I tried to decide whether to purchase a tree from a Christmas Tree Farm or use our artificial tree in the living room. Dan doesn’t really care. I do love the smell and feel of a real tree. On the other hand our artificial tree is fairly realistic, especially after it is decorated.
Then there is the fire hazard. It seems no matter how diligent we are in keeping a real tree in water, the forced air heat dries it out especially since I like to enjoy it for at least three weeks. Even though we put the tree clear across the room from the wood stove, I still worry about that also. So, after writing this all down, I think Dan and I will haul up the artificial tree tonight.
There is a candle store in Lawrence that sells wonderful pine scented candles. I will have my fake and smell it too…….
Sunday, November 28, 2004
It would be interesting to know the history of Talmage. It probably started with a general store that housed a post office, a school and a church as many of the small Kansas towns did over 100 years ago. The train came through so the co-op kept it vital for a long time. However, with many of the Co-ops failing and the farmers owning their own semi trucks to haul grain to larger markets, Talmage has dwindled in population. I’m talking small here because the population wasn’t even listed on a recent Kansas map.
Small doesn’t mean any less pride, though, so it seems some local residents helped a man with a smoker, a good BBQ sauce and a vision establish a restaurant (hence Partners) in this little town near Abilene. We were the only patrons there last night but we totaled around 20. So, we just settled in for an evening of laughing, talking and reminiscing about Wayne & Ruth’s wedding. The food was delicious—I had brisket with baked beans and “sun spots” (deep fried sweet potato chips that I sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar). The waitress joined in the fun—the food came at all different times—no need to let any get cold while preparing other plates. Who cared, as we were there for the evening and it didn’t matter who ate when. Great party—so glad we could make it!
Friday, November 26, 2004
I spent most of the day playing with the boys and Dan helped put together a cabinet for the playroom. Between unpacking boxes Marc made a trip to Dillons to pick up the makings for our Thanksgiving dinner. We broke their brand new kitchen in properly and deliciously. We had a pork loin on the grill, fresh green beans, sweet potato casserole, fresh rolls and a wonderful original portabella mushroom au jus for the meat. Kim should write down how she did it because it was excellent. Doug, even you might have liked it----not! We had my pumpkin pie and pecan turtle cookies for dessert.
I missed seeing our Colorado family, but we are planning a visit over New Year so I look forward to that to avoid disappointment in not seeing them yesterday.
I have the day off and have many things on my things to do list (see last Sunday) with the most important to dig out Christmas decorations! I love the house this time of year.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
2 cups flour
1/1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Butter flavored Crisco
4 6 tablespoons ice water
Measure four & salt into a bowl and mix together. Add the Crisco. Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter or a dinner fork works fine (my mother always used a fork). It is important not to over do but to work the shortening into the flour until it is small crumbles. Then add about 4- 5 tablespoons ice water.
Here is the important part: once you add the ice water, work gently. Don't over mix. If the dough is like play dough or clay, you've mixed too much. It should be sort of dry but will hold together in a ball. If an edge falls off after you roll it out, wet the dough with a little of the ice water and mold it back on. It works fairly well to roll it between waxed paper. Best is a pastry cloth but it is a bit old fashioned.
I can't stress enough to treat the pie dough gently and don't overmix. This is enough for one two crust pie or two one crust pies.
Butter Pecan Turtle Cookies
2 cups flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350. Combine crust ingredients. Mix well or until particles are fine. Pat firmly into ungreased 13x9x2 pan. Sprinkle enough pecans over the unbaked crust to cover well. The recipe says 1 cup, but I use more.
2/3 cup butter
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
In sauce pan, combine brown sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until entire surface of mixture begins to boil. Boil ½ to 1 minute. This can be done in the microwave, I suppose. Just don’t boil it too much or it makes the cookies hard.
Drizzle caramel over pecans and crust. Bake 15 to 20 minutes (do not overbake). Sprinkle chocolate chips over the hot cookies as soon as they are removed from the oven if desired. Swirl the chocolate around as soon as they melt.
Wait until cool to cut.
We also have pumpkin pie. If I have time later, I will share how to make wonderful pie crusts. It is simple and very delicious compared to the store bought chemical laden, hard, bla bla bla—you know how I stand on that.
Monday, November 22, 2004
The movie was an adaptation from the book of the same name by Anne Tyler. The principle characters were Blythe Danner as Rebecca Davitch, a usually merry widow; Peter Fonda as Will Allenby, a socially inept professor; and Jack Palance as Jack Palance aks Poppy, the senior respected member of the Davitch family. Rebecca has reached a point in her life where she feel unappreciated and without direction. She was widowed at an early age and left with three stepdaughters and one daughter of her own. Her life was her children. She says at one point that from now on its going to be "all about me." She then reconnects with Will, an old boyfriend. The rest of the members of the Davitch family move around this storyline.
I loved the story. Not only because I could identify with the "what ifs" but because four generations were dealing with familiar and often similar life circumstances. The ending was refreshing and realistic. It definitely was not a "tear jerker, chick flick." Maybe just a brief tear.
Actually, I cried more at the commercials. Hallmark has the best.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
I wonder if lists could be a peek at how a person ticks. Kim prioritizes and methodically works down. Dan carries recipe cards and a pencil in his pocket and writes as items come to mind. I sit down in the morning with my coffee and a notebook. I may take up to an hour doing this if the coffee is good and Dan is there to discuss the day. Usually, my list starts with something like clean the kitchen or wash. I have been known to write tasks that are already done just so I can cross something off.
There are times when I feel my things to do list consists of tasks that I should not do because I avoid doing them all day. Today, however, I have kept to task fairly well. I still have some things not marked off, though.
I am going to copy the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie soon because I don’t want to watch the commercials. Here’s the plan, I’m going to tape the first half and watch it while walking on the treadmill and then watch the second half tomorrow night so I will look forward to the walk.
Wait a minute, I am going to put that on my list.
read the statistics. It seemed the talent and work ethic were there, the team just couldn't get the grove this year. We’ll be there next year.
Friday, November 19, 2004
Thursday, November 18, 2004
I didn’t get a good look at the second group. I surprised them so they flew quickly. One actually flew high into a large tree. It looked very uncomfortable up there and finally flew on down to the ground.
Male turkeys or toms are often shown spreading their tail feathers in the air which is called a strut. Even though this is the common Thanksgiving picture, males only do this during mating season in the spring to show dominance among a group of birds. I have observed this “dance” and it is impressive.
Tom turkeys also have a beard which hangs from their chest. The length is determined by the age of the bird. Actually, the wild turkey is not a pretty bird, at least compared to the pheasant. Around here, however, they are very plentiful and seem to increase each year.
The large flocks of turkeys I saw today did not seem too concerned about the fact that it is open season on them or that Thanksgiving is only a week away. They probably instintively know I am not a threat.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
It is hard for me to understand how anyone could take a pet out in the country and just shove it out the door and drive off. This is what happens to many unwanted animals primarily dogs. Today, it was a cute little dog. I couldn’t tell if it was male or female—something about it made me think female, though. It is easy to tell when an animal has been dumped as they will be standing by the side of the road, watching the cars go by as if maybe their owner will come back for them. They have a forlorn look in their eyes.
I do not stop when I am working. I have called the animal control officer if it is a mean breed of dog, though. This little dog was so cute that someone might actually pick it up or it might wonder into one of the homes nearby. I am sure that is what the person who dumped the dog would like to think—it found a home and lived happily every after. Unfortunately, that is not usually the case. The Humane Shelter “puts down” an unbelievable number of animals each year.
Over the years, we have lost count on the number of dumped animals we have had at our place. As I said, generally they are dogs, but also cats, once a whole litter. There was a goat. The oddest was a flock of chickens. Of course, there was no way we could catch them and the coyotes picked them off in no time.
Pets deserve to be treated humanly—dumping along the road is definitely not that.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
We were talking about how much easier it is to take care of clothes now than when she was a young housewife. That brought up the topic of wash day.
First, she would sort clothes in piles and fill the wringer washer with hot water. At the same time she would fill two wash tubs with rinse water. Mom started with the least dirty white clothes such as sheets or dress clothes, then to the colored clothes and finally to Dad’s farm clothes. All of these would be washed in the same water. Each load was rinsed twice running the articles through the wringer each time. The wringer was two rollers that squeezed the water out of the clothes.
Hanging the clothes on the line was my favorite part of the process. I still have a clothes line and often hang my wash to air dry. Mom taught me to hang the clothes in a certain way. After all, you wouldn’t want someone to drive by and see the clothes just thrown on the line. So, like articles are hung together, colors are coordinated and sheets and towels are hung so they don’t wrap around the line. I have never admitted it, but sometimes I come inside after hanging out clothes and look out the window to admire my work.
After washing all day Monday, she would iron all day on Tuesday. Mom’s generation worked hard just to accomplish day to day chores. I am glad to leave it all behind—except no dryer paper will ever be able to duplicate hanging sheets out to dry.
Monday, November 15, 2004
So, with that said, I am, with Kim’s permission, including the paragraph in her email today in response to my question as to what was the conversation that was so funny at dinner. Her answer:
Marc's new term is "wag" or "wild-ass guess". The statement I made at the table wasn't that clever. Someone in Missouri legally changed his name to "they". The term people use is "they say...", but now "they" is one person so we'll have to change our terminology to "they said...". I personally am making a "wag" that this Missourian is a nut-job with mutiple personalities & will continue to use the phrase "they say".
Sunday, November 14, 2004
We have a newly organized play area in the basement for the grandboys—opps, I’ve a girl now—so it will be grandkids. My office awaits a wall of shelving to hold the boxes I have already organized. Dan is spraying lacquer so it will be installed this week. We also organized and established a plan for recycling magazines (a big source of clutter).
We had Cards here last night. I “shot the moon” (Pitch terminology) and made it. That was huge for me because I am a conservative player. Dan fired up the stove on the porch which always pleases me when we have guests. Something about a fire that warms hearts.
Kim, Marc, Aaron and Adam went to Polar Express. They thought it was excellent and their almost 3 and 5 year old also liked it. The family also gave The Incredibles a thumbs up.
The picture is of Aaron and Adam looking at Billy Bass. It scared Aaron when he was a baby so we hid it on the top shelf of the closet of our bedroom. Of course, at 5, he is no longer afraid, but every time he visits, we get it from that same top shelf. Then we hear “Take Me to the River” and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” endlessly.
Actually, maybe Billy Bass has the best advice for the week ahead!
Thursday, November 11, 2004
I purchased my first stereo in the mid 60s but couldn’t really afford to buy many albums until the early 70s. So, to start I have Peter Paul & Mary, Jan & Dean, Beetles, and an album that has to be one of Little Stevie Wonder’s first. From there I have Ann Murry, at least three John Denver and the same of Kenny Rogers and Glen Campbell. I loved Neil Diamond (still do), Linda Ronstadt, Simon & Garfunkel, and the Eagles. I must have had a weird time because I have several albums each of Seals & Crofts and Janis Ian.
I have always enjoyed rock bands. Ozark Mountian Daredevils and Creedence Clearwater Revival were the southern rock favorites. Doobie Brothers, Electric Light Orchestra, and Dire Straits—excellent and I still am buying Mark Knopfler albums. Crosby Stills Nash & Young are better apart. There is the hair period of Boston and Foreigner—didn’t stay there long. ZZ Top is great for cleaning house, though.
Sting is timeless because his lyrics are wonderful. Currently I have Matchbox 20, Train & Radiohead . I like Dave Mathews Band, but was disappointed in the Chicago incident.
Tomorrow I will read this and wonder why I left something out that was probably my all time favorite. Guess the best way would be to do as John Cusack’s character and just get the albums out and arrange them in piles.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Kim and Aaron and Adam are visiting for a few days. At this point I should say that our two kids are very neat and organized. Also, my mother kept a beautiful home. So, I am kind of the odd ball here. Anyway, I was telling Kim about my plan to get my house organized. She immediately jumped in on the plan--which involved backing the truck up to the front door.
Part of my problem is both Dan's parents and my Dad have passed away within the past year and my Mom is in a full care facility. Many of their belongings have found their way to my house. These boxes must be sorted and organized until the whole family can make decisions.
The process of sorting is a study of that person or family's life. In the box of "Must Save" items are letters, journals, pictures, awards or diplomas, recipes, and maybe jewelry. In the box of "Maybe" are nice dishes, etc. As a lifetime of possessions are sorted, "value" seems to mean more about love than money.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
There is one huge problem I must address, though. My house is full of clutter and our card group is meeting here this weekend. This is not a new situation with me. I have tried to deal with this my whole life. I already know my epitaph--"I am finally organized" Being organized is such a simple thing for most people. I go to my friends houses and marvel how everything is in it's place. I come home with new resolve. It just never completely gets done.
I read in one of my books (I have at least three) on how to get organized that a person should never lay something down. Pick it up, put it away. I will sometimes put a CD player around my waist with some good old rock n' roll and do just that. Pick up and deal with it. The music helps.
I do have a theory about why I might have this clutter/disorganization problem. I think it has something to do with right & left brain. If I strap on that music, it keeps my right brain occupied so my organized left can take over--or visa versa--or whatever.
OK, it's 10:00 pm--I'm going to put on some music and give myself one hour to deal with the kitchen. I think I'll go with ZZ Top--maybe Creedence. I don't know, maybe a little ELO.
Monday, November 08, 2004
I have a book entitled Attitudes of Gratitude with a sub title of How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life by M J Ryan. It is a "bathroom" book in that the chapters are short and easy to read. While I read this book I kept a journal or list of special people or events in my life.
While these lists were easy to make, finding the words to express the joy and gratitude I feel with my family is difficult. My two children, their chosen mates and my grandboys are all very special each with their own personalities and abilities. Now, I have a wonderful new little girl to add to my joy and excitement. I don't know her unique personality and abilities yet, but I knew as soon as I saw her that her place in my heart fits perfectly with theirs.
We arrived in Colorado Springs in time to see Carly Kay on Saturday evening. Sunday she was able to come home from the hospital so we had some "holding" time then. We left this morning, but not before getting to marvel at the beauty and perfection and again shed a tear of joy for our new little granddaughter named
Friday, November 05, 2004
This means a flying trip to Colorado to hold Carly so I will not be writing for a couple of days. There will be plenty when I get back as well as pictures!
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Today, however, they are beginning the process of replacing my most scenic bridge. It, in all honesty, is probably the most dangerous as it is one-way and on a bend of the road at that. The stream is crosses is Berry Creek and interestingly enough the first settlement of Berryton was along this creek. I have probably taken more pictures off this little bridge than anywhere else on the route. It is in a beautiful area--one that looks more like the Ozarks than Kansas.
I stopped to take a picture of my mail truck on the bridge several weeks ago because I had heard they were going to replace it. I had my camera set on black and white by mistake. At the time, I was disappointed. As I look at the picture now, though, I feel the lack of color sets an appropriate mood
The bridge needed to be replaced and if one life would be saved because of the upgrade, it is good. It's just that goodbyes are hard.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
I spend five to six hours delivering the mail route each day and often listen to talk radio. My usual choice is sports talk, but today I listened to the local call in show. They were doing post election coverage and taking calls. One of the callers pointed out that perhaps Bush's strongest asset was that the average person could identify with him. He is the type of person who would come over, watch the game & have some beers. People identified with him and when they finally marked the ballot, that made a difference. Interesting thought.
Lastly, I appreciated what Kerry said today. He had good things to say and I personally did not think it was too long. Of course, I was listening to him with the knowledge that Bush had won, which might have made a difference.
Oh, and I know I am back to Jim Rome when the talk radio call ins started talking about who will run in 2008!
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Dan has a water board meeting tonight & wouldn't you know it was his turn to furnish the refreshments. He volunteered to stop by Dillon's for cookies, but I refuse to allow those floury, chemical laden sad excuses of a cookie to be served by my family. So, with beer in hand, election coverage on mute I have knocked out two recipes of homemade cookies. They are quite delicious if I don't say so myself.
I think I will post the recipes because as I said, they are wonderful. Now, I will say I am a very good cookie maker, only Doug is better ( Kim, you make the best cheesecake). There is a possibility that one is born with the ability to make good cookies--kind of a gift. I say this because there are a bunch of really bad cookie makers out there. Before I post the recipes, I will divulge the secret to excellent cookies. There are two simple rules. First, do not overbake. Take the cookies out when they look not quite done. They will continue to bake after you take them out of the oven. Secondly, do not overbeat the dough after you put in the flour. There you go--simple as that!
Beat shortening, sugars, eggs, water & vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients gently. Finally add oatmeal also stirring gently.
Bake 350 around 12 minutes. Do Not Overbake
Monday, November 01, 2004
I have a friend who is, as she says, “going under the knife” today to have a surgical procedure done on her foot. I remember reading there are 26 bones in a foot. In some ways, you have to think it is one of the more important parts of the body or at least it holds a lot of weight. I know some people think with their foot— I know mine fits in my mouth well. (Sorry, my bad)
At any rate, our feet make our life wonderful when they work and feel well, but probably very painful when recuperating from surgery. Kathy, I am thinking about you—take care!
Sunday, October 31, 2004
I am reluctantly changing my clocks today. That means it will be lighter in the mornings but not much and by the time I am finished with my route during this heavy mail time of the year, it will be dark. I am glad I work outdoors most of the day because I actually think I could get depressed if I had an indoor job. John Denver said it all with his song.
An interesting thing about the change of time is how long it takes my body (probably it's actually my head) to adjust. My sleep is messed up, and I am hungry at the wrong time. My Dad never wore a watch. He was a farmer for 50 years and he always said he could tell what time it was by looking at the position of the sun. My Mom wasn't as sure. She is a gentle woman who rarely raises her voice, but putting a full table of food out and then waiting for the "men" to come to eat made her "see red" as she put it. For the most part, he was pretty close, though. He had a good body clock.
I guess all of us have an internal clock--trouble is, that body clock is harder to change from daylight savings to regular time than these crazy clocks we have around the house that automatically change themselves! How does that happen, by the way??
Saturday, October 30, 2004
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Tonight we attended a visitation for the mother of a friend and fellow postal worker. Her Mother was crossing the street to attend Mass and was struck and killed by a hit and run driver. There were five members of the family there and they seemed to be handling the large number of people well. I have been thinking of them often in the past two days, though. They didn’t have an opportunity to tell their Mother goodbye or let her know how much they loved her. She was just—all of a sudden, gone.
So, as I write this, perhaps I am tired or just sad from thinking of the family tonight, but even though we don’t want to consider suddenly being taken away, it is so important to live our lives each day as if it is our last. Laugh a lot, tell someone they have done a good job, say thank you, be considerate of others feelings, talk less and listen more. Because, in the end, it isn’t the goodbyes on a death bed that lets your loved ones and friends know how you feel about them and how they feel about you, but it is how you lived your life and interact with them each day.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Each year Chip and a group from Monarch Watch make a trip to the overwintering Monarch butterfly area of Mexico. The Blog of his trip is great reading (don't miss the Quick Time video)
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Huge oak trees were cut along the creek below the barn for its construction in 1905. The lower level of the barn was used for horses and the upper levels for storing hay. The elevated drive actually entered the barn on the third floor. The hay was then unloaded on that floor as well as dropped to the second floor. There is a passageway under the elevated drive with a 28 foot cistern that collected water from the barn. There are several grain bins under the drive. Larger grain bins once stood on each side of the elevated drive.
The family who built the barn endured much hardship. All three of the sons were civil war veterans only to come home and meet untimely and violent deaths. One was murdered and another wounded by wondering thieves thinking there was money hidden in the house. The third brother was killed by a flying limb while cutting wood.
Since the original family, the barn has passed through four owners with the current owners taking a great deal of time and expense to fix the barn to its original grandness.
Tomorrow another smaller home/barn.
Elevated drive enters on the left side behind the tree
Picture of entire farmstead with barn in the background. Date unknown. The house & several of the out buildings are gone
Rock Ranch Barn
The Rock Ranch had several buildings that were used as barns, either for livestock or feed storage. They were small and a simple design yet all built of the limestone rock found abundantly in the hills nearby. The barn of interest to me, however, was the first log cabin structure built and occupied on the claim.
The original owners were three brothers. They were Civil War Veterans and known as early pioneers of Wabaunsee Co. They also had spent time moving freight from Kansas City to Council Grove along what was probably the Santa Fe Trail. At that time there were three brothers but one was killed by the Kiowa Indians in 1864. It was not mentioned why.
The log cabin had a main room with a sleeping loft. Behind the living quarters was a stable for the horses. According to the historians present, this was not unusual for early structures in the Flint Hills. As you can see by in the picture, the barn/house had two interesting features: the door was very low and there was no chimney. Even the ceiling in the inside was low leading us to believe the family might have just been short. The sleeping loft was covered with straw which served as insulation as well as a soft sleeping surface. It must have been comforting to hear and most likely smell their valued animals nearby.
Tomorrow I will tell about the beautiful red barn.
Original structure, but not original roof
Perhaps the chimney came out the hole on the side. Those horses were mighty close.
The Sump Barn
The "Sump Barn" is probably the most published barn in Kansas. According to its owner, it has appeared on at least four magazine covers, four postcards and in barn books. As you can see from the picture, there are two features that set this barn apart. The first is the unique gable ends and second the red color with the white stars which is believed to be a trademark of the builder 100 years ago.
The Sump barn is a basement or hillside barn. As in the first barn I wrote about, the upper part of the hill allows access to the loft and the bottom to the animal or grain storage bays. The hillside type of barn became popular in the 1880s but the use of doors in the gable ends was a new feature. The doors would be hoisted up and hay could then be loaded or unloaded. Most barns built during that time were of oak, but this barn was almost totally walnut.
When the current owners purchased the barn several years ago, it was badly in need of repairs. They have put on a tin roof, repaired the cupola and replaced many of the support beams. The beams cost $65 each and must be special ordered from Colorado. They have also constructed an apartment on the top floor and currently have it rented. I thought this was a unique way to get money to work on the barn.
Finally, just as an interesting fact, the cupola on barns are there for more than appearance. The steam from the animals on the ground floor travels up and is vented. This is for the health of the animals and the structure.
Inside the loft or upper floor
It was getting late so the stars on the doors are hard to see
Saturday, October 23, 2004
I thought I was nearly going to have a crow feast after my prediction that KSU would not be able to beat Oklahoma. It was within reach, however that is water under the bridge. Our Wildcats will win over Nebraska tomorrow in Manhattan.
There you go--
Thursday, October 21, 2004
When I remove myself from the partisan campaign rhetoric being thrown our way in the media, even here on the internet, and try to look at our situation in the next four years, I feel we need stability in our government. I do not think this is the time for change.
War is never good. But, how do we weigh lives lost in war against lives lost in terrorist activities aimed at innocent children and their parents. We need to let the people who instigate these types of aggression against us know that it is not something we will tolerate. It seems to me that Bush has a plan in effect. Our troops in Iraq need to know we back the present plan and we want to get them out. I hope I can believe Bush when he says he has a plan (a word both sides use a lot) to do this.
Perhaps I am naive in my thinking, but at this time, I am basing my vote on this issue. To me a change in leadership at this point will send a message to our troops and the world that we do not, as a nation, stand behind what has been accomplished up to this point including the sacrifice of the lives of our citizens. There is still a job to be finished or at least ended and it is Bush's to do.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
The farm sale had progressed to the furniture and I was only half paying attention. Then I heard the auctioneer say, “this isn’t a blanket, it looks like a velvet dress.” They were just ready to sell a cedar chest and something was in the bottom of it. I immediately perked up. He had already started the bidding when I waved my hand. There was the lady antique dealer bidding against me. All of a sudden, Bonnie, the niece in charge of the sale, came running up and yelled, “This dress is not to be sold, it was not on the sale bill.” The bidding immediately stopped and they put it back in the box. Bonnie then turned to me and told me to take the dress. She said Aunt Vi would want me to have it. This was very touching and exciting for me.
This dress was totally hand done with covered buttons down the back. The train is at least six feet long and it is beautifully preserved velvet. I don’t know that I will keep it forever as I am sure the historical society would love to have it, but I am going to show it to all the children of Aunt Vi’s family. I am sure there are still brides who have the talent to create such a beautiful dress, but how many have the time. Sadly, generations have moved on and skills such as this are not as common.
There is a PS to this story. Bonnie said for me to take the dress, then said, “by the way, there is a bridesmaid dress in a storage box you should take also!
Monday, October 18, 2004
I immediately spotted a beautiful red glass vase. There were also several small little plates and bowls with roses that I thought were pretty. I wanted to buy something for myself, my daughter and daughter-in-law to remember Aunt Vi.
I had my number 16 ready when the bidding started. I bought a pan and water scoop for Ruth. Then two crock bowls also for Ruth. I watched a couple little music boxes sell that I wished I would have bid on. The auctioneer got off on some stuff that didn’t interest me so I dug in some boxes to see what was on the bottom. I found some beautiful hand work tea towels and pillowcases.
About that time the auctioneer picked up the hobnail and fluted red vase. Then I heard the word “Fenton” and I was afraid it would be out of my price range. Sure enough, it sold for over $150.00. I ended up with two little red bud vases that will look very nice with my other red glass so I am happy. Tomorrow I will tell about the wedding dress, rose plates and other delightful things.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Speaking of the 40th, my classmates looked great and we enjoyed catching up. There was a lot of laughing and picture taking. Several come back from out of state—I think Mike from Georgia traveled the most miles. I won a prize for having the same color of hair as in high school! We stayed with Barb and Darrell so we had to sit up and talk even more after getting back to their house—1:30am!
Today was the auction of my Aunt Vi and Uncle Grant’s household items near Junction City. That is a story for another day.