Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Weather.... .always!

Well, people out here like to talk about the weather. That's because it always gives us something to talk about. Today the weatherman has issued a warning for northern Illinois and the Chicagoland area, which includes us. They are calling for a derecho. This is the first time I've heard this term, although I've seen plenty of bow echoes. Evidently it involves a fast moving storm with hurricane force winds. They also mention that one blew through here last June. I remember it but I wasn't aware of what it was called. In the matter of about 15 minutes the weather changed from dead calm to gusts of 70 mph and believe me when I say the speed and ferocity certainly gets your attention. Everything that wasn't tied down took off. Thankfully a tornado didn't develop.

My biggest challenge is to convince the Other Mother that she can't go out in the yard to do "a little work". Like I said, last year's storm came in like a freight train. The car is safely tucked in the garage to avoid hail damage. Hail can total your car. I ran out to do a quick errand and although it was windy earlier today, now it's incredibly hot and humid and the air is dead still. That gives people in Illinois the creeps because the air is ALWAYS moving around here. Dead calm means "danger coming." So, I'm shutting down the computer and unplugging it to prevent a surge. I'm bringing in the lawn chairs and being thankful that we had the half-dead tree next to the house cut down a couple weeks ago. Phew!! Everyone stay safe. I intend to do the same with my sheltering plans in place. Like the Boy Scouts say, BE PREPARED!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Home again, home again

Hello everyone. We are back from a very relaxing vacation. The Mother went along with us and the Other Mother stayed home in the charge of her other son. It was a respite for my mom to get away from her senior citizen building where drama runs rampant. It seems those seniors can really mix it up as far as gossip and controversy goes. Anyway she had a good time even though we really didn't do much.

As far as healthy eating goes, we all through caution to the wind. The south is home to some of the most wonderful food and we took advantage of the opportunity to try it all. There's a restaurant outside of Hot Springs called The Home Plate and we had wonderful fried green tomatoes for an appetizer one night and a breakfast mess one morning. I call it the mess because it's a concoction of hash browns, bacon cheese and other ingredients, ala Waffle House.

We always make the short trip to Little Rock for the barbecued ribs at Shorty Smalls. The ribs are great and so are the baked beans and biscuits. YUM. Then it's off another evening to the local Mexican restaurant that has a HUGE menu. It's really hard to make a choice but we someone managed.

Does it sound like we did nothing but eat on this trip? When I think about it, that's almost a true statement. We really didn't do any sightseeing this time around because we've seen almost everything there is to see and I wasn't up for a trip down to the diamond mine. So, we relaxed and visited with friends. As the Farmer and I get older we acknowledge our limitations. We both flat out admit that we can no longer tolerate the 12 hour drive in one shot. It's nice to stop early at a hotel, have some dinner and relax before finishing the drive the next day. My grandfather was the king of the epic drive. He would never stop for food so when he made a pit stop for gas you had to run and grab whatever was available inside the gas station and in those days it wasn't much. Gas stations back then were NOT mini-marts.

The worst thing about the drive from here in northern Illinois to Hot Springs Village is the stretch of I-40 from West Memphis to Little Rock. It's just a horrid stretch of road with hundred and hundreds of trucks. This is the second year that construction on a small bridge has had traffic backed up for MILES! Last year we sat for over an hour, moving a foot at a time. You would have thought the project would be finished by now or that they would have devised a better way to funnel traffic through there but NO! We sat again, this time not quite as long but woe to the person who hadn't filled up on gas or gone to the bathroom before hitting this snag. It was so bad that the Farmer swore he would not take that route on our return trip. Our friends suggested an alternate route that would take us up into Little Rock and out the other side, heading northeast through Arkansas and Missouri, ending up just south of St. Louis. This route could also be problematic because parts of it are two lane highway. The thought of traveling on I-40 was just too much so we decided to take the alternate 67/167 and we were so happy we did.

Instead of heading directly east to Memphis and then a bit back northwest through the boot heel of Missouri, you head northeast in a more direct line towards St. Louis. By the way, WHY does Missouri have that boot heel? I guess I'll have to watch that TV show, "How the States Got Their Shapes." Our new route took us directly through the Arkansas delta land. It is stunning how flat the land is in the delta, and I'm from Illinois so that's saying something. It's a rural agricultural area and the farms are spaced quite a distance apart. The people live simply adn there are no fancy farmhouses and very few towns of any significant size.

What is so impressive about eastern Arkansas and the Missouri delta land is that they grow over 50% of the rice grown in the U.S. We wound our way past Little Rock on the 4-lane divided portion of the road and then onto the 2 lane highway. There were very few cars and only one or two trucks the entire length of the route. We were so happy not to be in that crush of truck traffic on I40 and even though our speed was lower than would have been possible on the interstate we were making good time. I've always felt that if you can spare the travel time, it's always more interesting to get off the interstate and travel the secondary roads. We passed through Cabot, Tuckerman and Walnut Ridge before turning onto a 2 lane stretch near the Missouri state line. We were all needing a bathroom break and referring to my trusty atlas I told the Farmer that we'd soon be coming into Pocahontas, Arkansas.

At this point we are traveling on very flat terrain, skirting around the far edge of the Ozark range. Pocahontas has a population of about 6,000 people, only 1,700 actually living in town. There's not much there but they do have a McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy's! The Farmer decided to stop at Wendy's for our bathroom break and then decided he needed a burger. Fast food wasn't so fast in this establishment so as we waited I engaged in some people watching.

This was Sunday so everyone was dressed up having been to church earlier. An older gentleman carried his tray back into the dining room where his wife sat waiting. I imagine that these people have never traveled far from home, maybe never having even left the state. Two young girls entered and placed their order at the counter. They were perhaps 15 or 16 years old and wearing dresses not jeans. When they turned around I saw that they were twins and as my grandmother used to say, they were as cute as a button! Honestly, these girls were as cute as any model in Seventeen magazine and I wondered what their lives were like in this small delta town.

The other thing about getting off the interstate is that besides the fast food there are local restaurants available. On the way into Pocahontas I spotted the place I really wanted to eat at. It was a low white nondescript building but the parking lot was jammed. Hand painted lettering identified it as "Delta Barbecue". Unfortunately we couldn't take time for a sit-down meal. Sigh. I bet that barbecue is awesome. Perhaps we can try it the next time we pass through that town.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with me today. I hope you enjoyed going along with us on our trip. Not much to do I'll admit but very relaxing. Have a great day everyone.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday Morning Staff Meeting - The Prodigal Blogger

First of all, I would like to apologize for being gone so long. The creative well had run dry, so to speak. I added up my combined blogging efforts and it was almost 1,800 posts. Add to that my current living situation and you got .... nothing! Still, I cannot believe I left you for so long with only that stupid sandal to look at.

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We are all as well as can be expected for our age and circumstances. Since last we visited our son moved out into a townhouse, which is a good thing because this was quickly becoming an assisted living facility and he gets enough of that in his job as a nurse. That leaves the Farmer, the Other Mother and yours truly. The Farmer and the Other Mother have both been in the hospital, the Other Mother's diagnosis is ..... "She's 91-3/4 years old." The Farmer was in the hospital with a diagnosis of .... "faux heart attack brought on by stress". We must change that situation so that the faux heart attack doesn't become a real one! He's joined a gym and is working out 3-4 day a week. He's doing good. I've had eye surgery, a cataract is each eye. The surgery is really nothing these days, I remember when people had their head sandbagged and couldn't move for a very long time. It does give you pause though, to think that a surgeon is coming towards your eye with a scalpel. Sorry for the mental image. Honestly, the surgery is a breeze and the results are really terrific.

Let's talk dementia. Both the Other Mother and the Mother are suffering from dementia. Since the Farmer is still working I have the burden of responsibility for the Other Mother. My sister has the burden of responsibility for the Mother and I am the backup. So you can see where this is going.

I do not have a life.

I am not even kidding about this.

So, what's to write about? Well, remember when your mom said if you don't have anything good to say then don't say anything at all? Well, that's pretty much been the situation. Believe me when I say that caregiving is the most isolating experience ever.

When the Other Mother was released from the hospital she was so weak she couldn't get out of bed. The conversation with the doctor's office was the most bizarre exchange ever!

ME: "Now she's so weak she can't get out of bed."

OFFICE: "OK, well bring her in so that we can check her out."

ME: "Hmmmm, well that's a little difficult because like I said, SHE CAN'T GET OUT OF BED!!" 

OFFICE: "Well, we need to see her in order to make a referral or recommendation."

ME: "OK, well thanks. This was the most ridiculous conversation I've ever had."

We clearly needed some in-home help. Thank heavens for the internet because we didn't even know these type of companies existed. It's is not skilled nursing care, but basically what a CNA would do in a clinical setting. The only problem was that the minute the Other Mother was out of bed and mobile, she fired them! If she's not flat on her back there's no value in it for her.

The bottom line is that you cannot leave a person with dementia for any siginificant period of time. You can run a quick errand but that's it. And so, there you go. That's a quick synopsis.

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I haven't even been reading blogs. That's bad. I did check in with Chocolatechic one day and see that she's blogging once a week on a Monday. I think that's a good idea and a way that I can try to get back into blogging. Certainly I can find ONE thing to write about during a week's time.

My visit to Chocolatechic's blog was serendipitous because it was the day she was talking about adopting a U.S. Soldier. Hey, I could do that. I'm basically housebound with plenty of time on my hands. I love to write - it's a match! So I've adopted two soldiers through Soldier's Angels and I also write to some others through their TLC team.

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 I forgot to mention what I am serving this morning. We are going to share some shrimp and grits! Look, if you don't like grits it's only because you haven't had them cooked right. Trust me on this.

Get the water boiling good, add the grits and still constantly for at least one minute. Continue to cook the grits until the water is almost absorbed and then start adding some heavy cream, a little at a time until they are real creamy. Put olive oil in a fry pan, add chopped onion and green peppers, fry until the onions are translucent. Add the shrimp and cook for a few minutes. Deglaze the pan with some white wine and add heavy cream to make a sauce. Serve the shrimp mixture over the grits.

Heaven on earth. I could eat grits every day.

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My upstairs sewing room has been transformed back to a guest bedroom and all my machines and fabric now have their own spot in a studio in our basement. It's a good set-up and I continue to make aprons, wallets and whatever else strikes my fancy. When the Farmer is home on weekends I'm able to get out a do a few craft shows and farmer's markets. The online shop is languishing a bit until I get some photography work done. So, that's basically it for me.

I'd LOVE to hear what you've been doing. Please share!!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fashion Faux Pas? You decide.

Recently the weather took a turn to chilly. It was a pleasant development after suffering through drought and Texas-style heat all summer. I moved the sweaters and warmer clothing items to the front of the closet, anticipating what's coming as sure as the sun rises.

It was very cold one day, the kind of day that has us all saying, "The frost is on the pumpkin." I'm very, very reluctant to give up wearing my Privo sandals. They are absolutely the most comfortable shoe I've ever worn and problems with neuropathy make comfortable shoes a must.

Anyway, on this really cold day I decided to don a pair of white socks and my Privos. WOW, did I get a reaction from the men-folk in the house. They had quite a giggle at this layering.


They found white socks and sandals quite amusing and told me this was certainly a fashion faux pas! Really? No, I'm not questing the fact that it mightbe but that the guys were calling me out. I didn't know they had a fashion bone in their bodies, much less an opinion.

So, what about you? Do you go for fashion or through caution to the wind for comfort?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Monday Morning Staff Meeting on Tuesday

Good morning everyone! Sorry for the delay in the meeting but I spent all day yesterday preparing a birthday dinner for our son. His birthday was actually on Saturday but he had to work.

We had stuffed pork loin roast, baked potatoes and green beans. For dessert we had something that I'd like to share with you this morning, pumpkin cheesecake with chocolate shortbread crust.


It's positively delicious although not super cheesy tasting, it's more like a very light and fluffy pumpkin pie. I think you'll enjoy it.

Here's the recipe. I think I found this via Pinterest.


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I've been very, very busy sewing in my studio. The cupcake ladies have placed an order and I'm also meeting with them to hammer out the details about selling my wares in their bakery. One of the packaging ideas that I've come up with is to sell a basic butcher type apron that's been rolled up and placed inside a large Mason jar. This is another idea that I saw on Pinterest. What do you think?

Speaking of sewing, the winning name for my sewing machine has been chosen and the winner is......


My turquoise vintage machine is named Beverly after actress Beverly Garland. Before she starred in My Three Sons she was a renowned "screamer" in B movies. So it just makes sense to have a screamer and a singer in the studio.

Adele, please send me an e-mail with your address and I'll send out a package of goodies sewn by Peggy Lee!

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I've joined the Zooniverse. Have you heard about it? Here's the description:

"The Zooniverse is a collection of web-based Citizen Science projects that use the efforts and abilities of volunteers to help researchers deal with the flood of data that confronts them."

They've set up sites where you can help classify galaxies or other projects. I'm involved with the Seafloor Explorer. It's very relaxing for me to sit and classify stuff on the ocean bottom. It kind of clears your mind. See what you think.



OK, that's all for today. I've got to get these sewing machines fired up! Have a great day everyone.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Name that Machine

It's time to name that machine!

My sister picked up this fabulous vintage sewing machine at a thrift store. She knew I'd been searching for a pink machine for awhile and this fit the bill. It's a vintage Singer Merritt in a dark pink and cream color scheme.


It sews really well, smooth and quiet. There are decorative stitches but I don't have the cams. They're available on ebay and I'll pick some up in the future.

Till then she'll be in charge of straight stitching in a secondary therad color. When I'm working on lots of projects I'll set up my machines in different colored threads, that way I don't have to stop and change out the thread and bobbin. It means that my "collection" is actually used and just not sitting around looking pretty.

Do you have an idea of what to name her? Leave your entry in the comment field. I'm going to have my sister choose the name because she's the one who rescued her from possibly ending up in the dump.

I'll announce the winner at next Monday's staff meeting. The prize will be a goody bag of things from workroom. Good luck!.