Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016 Personal Reading Challenge

New Series for Dusty Pages

 

It turns out I did not miss the deadline to sign up for this Reading Challenge; so I am going to play along with everyone else. If you'd like to join me for mutual encouragement and/or discussion of never-before-read books, then "Welcome!" You join the reading challenge I linked to above, or just do it your own way.


I'm not even going to tell you how many books I have on my TBR list. About a third of them are physically in my possession, sitting on more than one shelf of one of my bookcases. Several are already downloaded onto my computer or Nook, and the rest are simply names on a file in my Google Drive. I know I am not alone in having an enormous TBR list. I have watched mine grow seemingly exponentially this year!! Seriously, I've added so many this year without taking many off that it was starting to depress me.

So I'm going to set myself a challenge to read two off my pile each month. I believe that is doable. I listen to audio books a lot, so I will count that format in this challenge; however, I will only allow one audio in any given month off my TBR list. All of the books read that count toward this challenge have to be off the list as it stands right now. New arrivals to the list after December 31, 2015 will either have to be read immediately or added to the list and read in addition to the 2 per month off the standing list.  As in the challenge I linked to above, the books have to have been released in 2015 or earlier in order to count.

Now, I need to give myself some sort of reward for meeting or exceeding my goals. Hmm.... I'll have to think about that. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

I will post about my book(s) and how I'm doing with this personal challenge every second and fourth weekend (Fri., Sat., or Sun.) of every month, except January when it will be the third and fifth weekends.

So by the end of 2016, I should have taken at the very least 24 books off my TBR list -- and as for any physical book, it will have either been passed on to someone else, donated to a library, or, if very special, given a permanent place on one of my shelves.

Join me if you like! Set your own challenge guidelines or follow mine. Or just check back with me around January 8 or 9 to see how I'm doing.

 
  Happy Reading!!

~ ~ Lori

 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Revving Back Up To Blogging Mode

I'm trying!!

This has been a difficult month, with deaths, illnesses, and hospitalizations scattered amongst extended family and friends. My winter blues haven't been as bad as they usually are, but then it's just the beginning of winter.

I plan to get back into blogging gear very soon -- BEFORE the new year! And that means MY blogging AND reading other blogs.

~ ~ Lori

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Two Funerals In One Week

Last week was very stressful. A lady beloved of our family who has had a chronic illness for the past three years took a turn for the worse and passed away last Friday. The day we went to see her in the hospital we found out that the younger daughter of another very good friend of ours had been found dead that morning by her boyfriend. Needless to say, I have had neither the time nor the desire, really, to blog or read blogs for the past week.

Our friend Dian, 79, along with her husband, Buel, who died three years ago, were like surrogate parents to my husband, Thomas. When we married, Buel and Dian and their children welcomed me into their family as well. When Thomas was a teenager they were a very good influence for him and had the kind of warm, fun family that he didn't have at the time and really needed. He could always be sure of a welcome at their house.

I liked them because, well, they were just likable people, but also because they reminded me of my own family. They were a very musical family, like mine, and Thomas used to enjoy going over to their house on a weekend evening with everyone singing and/or playing an instrument. That's how I grew up, too. I had come to be good friends with the two daughters of the family over the years, and Andrew and Eler Beth are friends with some of the grandchildren.

Dian had pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic disease. She had managed it well for the past three years, with a bad bout now and then. A couple of weeks ago her older daughter who is the only one of the four children who doesn't live locally, came down to stay with her for a while, to take her to some doctor's visits, and ended up staying two weeks because Dian's PF was getting worse. On Tuesday evening she passed out and was put in the hospital.

On Wednesday we were called because she was doing so badly that the doctor had said it was time to call in Hospice. He calculated from her lung function that she had a few days or maybe a couple of weeks. She was joking and laughing in the background when we were on the phone, and she asked for us to bring her a deer burger. She'd already had dinner that night, so we said we'd bring her one for lunch the next day. 

It is funny because I usually don't keep ground deer in the freezer. I don't use it ground very often, and I hate the thought of all those lovely steaks and roasts being ground up as a lot of hunters do. But we keep what I call "stew" pieces, and if I do want to make something that calls for ground venison, then Thomas can quickly grind up some for me. He had ground some for a friend two days previously, and I'd asked him to grind up about three pounds for me while he was at it. So I had the venison and I was honored to make Dian a burger.

So Friday morning I seasoned up the venison and made the burger the way Dian had particularly asked for it. We called the hospital and were told come right over; she wouldn't be able to eat the burger, but she'd know we had brought it. Her lungs had started failing much more rapidly than her doctor had anticipated, and he now gave her only hours to live. She had already instructed the family that when it came to that point, she didn't want to be kept alive only with oxygen.

I can't count the number of friends who came in to see her that day.  One of her granddaughters was with her husband visiting friends in New York,but had left at 9:30 that morning when they were called. Dian said she did not want to remove the oxygen until they got there. 

Dian knew us -- Andrew and Eler Beth were able to come by after they got off work --, and she knew we'd brought her burger for her. She was still trying to joke and talk to everyone. Almost all of her sisters and brothers were able to get in to see her. Sometimes her blood pressure would rise, and her oldest son would play one of her favorite songs on his guitar and the four kids would sing to her, and her BP would go down.  Once they started singing what she called "our song," a favorite of hers and her husband, and she moved her foot like she was keeping time and tried to sing along. 

We said our goodbyes and left around 7:30 that night, although we were welcome to stay longer. Thomas said he just couldn't be there when she went to sleep. At 11 when the granddaughter and her husband got there, the first thing Dian said through her mask was, "Did you have fun?" She visited with them for a while, all of her children and grandchildren in the room with her. Her oldest daughter asked her if she was ready to take off the oxygen. She replied that she wasn't quite ready yet, and she'd let them know when she was.  

Just before 3 a.m. she said she was ready. At 3:03 a.m. she went to sleep in death.

To the extent possible she went the way she wanted to go and when she was ready. To the extent possible she was in control. 

Her funeral is this Saturday. Thomas is one of the pallbearers. We will be at the visitation tomorrow as well. 

While we were at the hospital last Thursday we were told that the 29 year-old daughter of some good friends of ours had been found dead by her boyfriend that morning. The young woman had been in remission from cancer. They did  an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death, but of course that won't be back for a couple of weeks.  That was a shock to everyone. It is especially hard on her parents. Her father is fighting cancer as well, so this has been harder for her mother and father even than one could imagine. Her funeral was Tuesday. 

So I have not felt up to blogging for the past week, nor have I felt like keeping up with blog reading. I am sorry for that, because I was really enjoying it. I'll get back into it over the next few days and continue to read some new blogs highlighted on the Blogher FB page.

~ ~ Lori

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

An Opportunity Not To Be Missed

BlogHer Writing Lab 


I decided early this morning that I am going to try to keep up blogging regularly the way I used to. So I went to Blogher.com to see how they were handling December blogs. They are trying something new this year. In November ONLY they will do the Blogroll with links to blogs and posts. For the rest of the year the monthly themes, daily writing prompts, and the opportunity to read new blogs and post links to your own blogs has moved to a Facebook page. I think I'm going to like doing it this way.

I may not blog every day, but I do want to write more often than I have this year -- or, to be honest, the past couple of years! I'd like to get back to blogging the way I did when I first began many years ago. So...I joined the FB group, and I'm going to introduce myself to other bloggers there tonight. 

This is the link to the Facebook page if you'd like to join. 

~ ~ Lori

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Finish Line!

NaBloPoMo Post #30 

Crossing It, But Still Running 


Well, I did it! I blogged for 30 days straight. It has been quite some time since I have done this much blogging. I've really enjoyed it, and I do believe that I will keep blogging on a regular basis now. I am not going to commit to a post a day, but I think once or twice a week is doable -- possibly more often than that at times.

I do miss the old days before Facebook when blogging, specifically AOL Journals (J-Land), was a big part of my daily routine, but those days are gone. I have been enjoying reading my friends' blogs more regularly once again, and I have begun reading a few new-to-me blogs as well.

I started my series based on letters from my sister, Barbara, which is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I've enjoyed writing about my daughter's animals, and I haven't finished with that. And I've started the food topic series. I will continue with those themes as I go forward.

Now to close out November 2015 and a successful NaBloPoMo. If you did your post-a-day this month, congratulations! I hope it was fun for you. October and November have been strange, stressful months for me this year, with Thomas' injury and being off work. NaBloPoMo has been a nice distraction. He has even enjoyed it, reminding me of an evening to not forget to do my post! I hope things get back to normal in December.

So, until tomorrow --

~ ~ Lori 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

I Almost Forgot!

NaBloPoMo Post #29 

Getting It In Under The Wire 


Yes, I almost forgot to make a post today. And it isn't going to be much of a post.

I haven't been sleeping well lately, and having my regular sleep patterns messed up has really been hard on me. So tonight I took a Melatonin. I have never taken it before, but my daughter does now and then when she's having trouble with insomnia.

I took it about 8 tonight, took my shower and got ready for bed, and just before going off to bed it hit me -- I mean the Melatonin hit me. Those things really work!  I'm glad I had set an alarm to remind me in case I hadn't made a post today because otherwise I'd not be sitting here typing.

Okay, so that's it. I can't think well enough to write anything better. I'm going to go back to bed now, and I'll sleep all the better for knowing I haven't messed up my challenge to myself to blog every day.

Hope everyone has a good night's sleep.

~~ Lori 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

If I Had A Personal Assistant....

NaBloPoMo Post #28

I'd Have Her Make My Bed!


One of the blog writing prompts from this month was "If you had a personal assistant who would do your most dreaded tasks, which items from your to-do list would you assign out?"

I hate making beds. I always have. I love the look of a nicely made bed, but I have never liked the physical exertion of making it. This used to irritate my mother who now, even at 91, makes her beautiful antique iron bed every day!

I think the reason I don't like making beds is my back! I have severe scoliosis. I wore a Milwaukee back brace from the age of 10 to 14. Even before I was diagnosed I can remember having horrible, extreme lower back pain from the age of six. I can remember sitting in my desk in my first-grade class, crying because my back hurt, and my teacher wouldn't let me call my mother to come get me because she thought I was just homesick and wouldn't believe me when I said my back hurt. 

Also, I'm very short, and that, too, makes it harder to make a bed, in my opinion. 

Anyway, I have always hated it. So I change my sheets at least once a week, and I "straighten" the blankets and spread each morning. But why do more, really? I'm just going to mess it up each night.

Actually, if it is just me, I can sleep in a bed and barely mess up the blankets. A little straightening is all I need do when I get up. But Thomas can take a 10 minute nap and the bed looks like a tornado hit it! He will, however, make the bed for me anytime I ask him to, and my kids have had to make their own beds since they were little, so it is a task I don't have to worry about too often. Still, if I had a personal assistant, that would be one of her jobs. (Yes, "her." I don't want a male personal assistant!)

What else would I have my assistant do? I'm not sure. I actually like to do dishes and laundry, even folding and putting away. I enjoy ironing, though I rarely have anything that needs ironing. I love cooking. I don't mind doing the bathroom, except cleaning the tub -- for the same reason I don't like making beds, I guess. The leaning over and reaching and such hurts my back. So that's something else she'd get to do. 

Sweeping, mopping, dusting, I don't mind, although as I get older, mopping hurts my back more. You notice these are all cleaning jobs for my "personal assistant" to do? I guess she would be more of a maid or housekeeper, wouldn't she? I like doing my own clerical and bookkeeping stuff. She'd have to stay away from those things.

Ooh, I know! Running errands and shopping! That's what I'd have her do!

So if you had a PA, what chores would you assign out?

~ ~ Lori

Friday, November 27, 2015

So, Did You Do Black Friday?

NaBloPoMo Post #27

I Did Not


I did go with Eler Beth to Menards so she could get some things that were on a really good sale until noon. I stood in the checkout line and kept her company. We were in line for probably 45 minutes. But that was the extent of it.

She had worked until 10, and I had met her there after she got off work because I had some errands to do and we were going to get lunch together. The parking lot was so full people were parking on the grass between the parking lot and the highway. But I was in time to get a space that someone was leaving, and it was rather close to the doors. Yay!

Four times other customers asked her where something was as if she worked there. She did not have on her Pet Smart shirt; just a t-shirt. We are not sure why they thought she worked there, but it was pretty funny.  We weren't bored in line because the young man in front of us talked dogs and other pets with us all the way to the check out.

So did you shop today. And if you did, did you survive?

~ ~ Lori 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Shout Out To My Vietnam Vet Brother

NaBloPoMo Post #26

Alton ~ ~

 

I mention my sisters a lot in this blog. There are six of us girls, but we do have one brother. And if you've been a blogger friend for a while, you'll know that my brother is an invalid. He has lived at my Mom's for the past 18 or 19 years, since he suffered a stroke and needed some care in day-to-day life. About two years ago or so he became mostly bedridden; for the past year he has been entirely bedridden.  My sister Barbara is his main caregiver.

Alton was sixteen when I was born. I was told that he was not amused that Mom was pregnant at her age. I guess he was a typical 16-year-old boy. But apparently I grew on him because he and his best buddies called me "Baby" and took me places with them. I don't think I was supposed to draw in the girls, because I think he and his future wife were already dating not long after I was born, but I might be wrong about that.

I was about four years old when he was drafted and sent to Vietnam. I can remember going with Mom and Dad, his wife, and her little sister to Fort Knox to see him graduate from basic training. All I can really recall is standing there watching those rows of uniforms and not knowing which one was Alton. Mom or Viney yelled out, "There he is!" And I kept asking, "Where? Which one?" I never could see which one he was and couldn't figure out how they knew.

I have memories of Mom getting letters from him in envelopes with red, white, and blue stripes around the edges. Sometimes he sent pictures to her, and I remember one of him standing by a tank. Years later he gave me the 35mm camera he used in Nam, and I cherish it.

I know that Vietnam changed him. Well, how could it not? I was too young to know how it changed him at the time. I didn't appreciate until years later the ways it changed him, but I have come to see that my brother was and is a sensitive soul. My son is very much like him. He had little nervous quirks and could get overwhelmed if he had to be around a lot of people for a long time. He is peaceful, doesn't like to be around arguments or fights. He lived in his head a lot. (So do I!) I imagine my son going to that horrid war at the age of 20 and what kind of damage it would do to him, and that is how I can know what Alton must have gone through. 

He never talked much about Nam, not even to our parents. Several years before his stroke he was at Mom's house and China Beach was on the TV.  A certain place in Vietnam was mentioned, and he said, "I was there." And that was the absolute first time I, myself, had ever heard him make even that small a reference to his time overseas. A few years later he apparently started talking about it to one of our sisters. Then he had his stroke.

After the stroke he told some war stories. I have a few of them on tape. And after he started getting worse he would -- and still will -- hallucinate and think he is in Vietnam. 






The three oldest, Dennice, Alton, and Maxine





I'll write more about Alton in a later post. But right now I want to share a video that a friend posted to FB tonight. It's of the performing artist Pink and her father, performing together a song that he wrote about Vietnam; I believe she says that he wrote it while he was there. This video is from 2007, but I had never seen it before. It's nicely written, and I enjoy their harmony.  Perhaps you will like it too.



~ ~ Lori 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

On a Quest....

NaBloPoMo Post #25

For a Song in a Dream

 

I took a nap this afternoon and slept very heavily for a while. I dreamed very vividly. In my dream I was singing a song to my family. I explained to them that it was a very old song, but I had only learned it recently and had actually forgotten about it. I was very pleased in the dream that it had come back to mind.

I woke up, and the song was gone. I KNOW what song it was. I just can't remember what it is called, how it goes, or any of the words. Have you ever done that? It was a song that I had heard on a TV show I watched a few months ago on Netflix. It was either a BBC, Canadian, or Irish production I think (definitely not American). The song was an old traditional song that has been done by lots of musicians over the years. I really liked this particular recording, and I remember looking it up, learning it, and singing it. 

Now I must go on a quest to find that song. I can't remember the show, but I know I watched it on Netflix and then deleted it from my queue when I'd finished the series. When I find it, I will come back and post about it here. 

Putting on my deerstalker cap and cape now....

~ ~ Lori 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Too Much and Yet Not Enough

NaBloPoMo Post #24

Nothing Inspiring Tonight

It was a gorgeous day today! Tomorrow is going to be nice, too, but after that there is rain in the forecast almost every day for a week at least. There will be some sun and not all-day-long rains every day, but still a lot of rain. I guess that's normal for November, but I've been enjoying these nice days and hate to see them end.

Each year as I get older I dread winter more and more. I get the winter blues worse now than when I was younger. Committing to blogging more may help with that, and getting back into a good writing schedule in general will be good. I'm just going to have to really be disciplined with myself to do that!

I have so much on my mind today that I can't settle down to write. And I know what I want to write about next but don't feel like composing it tonight. Sorry!

Eler Beth came home early from work today feeling bad. I hope she isn't getting the cold that her dad and I had and that everyone seems to have had. Whatever it is, I hope it passes quickly. I hate to see my baby girl feeling bad. I spent most of this afternoon trying to get her to drink juice or hot tea. She just didn't want anything, although she knows staying hydrated is important. She's a bit stubborn that way. :)

Ok, so, that's it for today. Hopefully I'll feel like taking the time to make a proper post tomorrow.

~ ~ Lori  

Monday, November 23, 2015

Casting Shadows in Opposite Directions....

NaBloPoMo Post #23

Letters From My Sister

 

Have you ever had a metaphysical discussion prompted by the learning of a new word?
Sometimes Barbara likes to share new words with me, like in this letter from November 8 of this year: 
"Let us say that the circle below [see image to the left]* is the earth, and that the line across it is the equator. You are here.
 "Someone else is standing on the same meridian, but across the equator. At noon, your shadows will fall in opposite directions, which brings me to the point.
"There is a word for that.
"This business of casting shadows in opposite directions is ANTISCIAN, as are the people casting them. (an-TEE-shәn)  I am ashamed to confess that I had never felt the need for such a word, but now that I know there is one, I'm glad...."
 We have long enjoyed sharing new words with one another, being logophiles of longstanding. Origins of words fascinate us, and because Barbara does not use a computer (more on that in a later post), she has at times sent me a word she has run across that she can't find enough information about the old-fashioned way. Or she'll have me look up the history of various spellings or uses of a word. She keeps me on my toes!

She goes on to say in the letter:
"...I like it better than the more common antipodal, at least metaphorically. Where is the relevance of being poles apart, when you may have been cast there, willy-nilly, by birth, or cataclysm, or some other interpersonal institution?  On the other hand, it sounds more meaningful to actively cast your shadow, (vote, influence, evil superpowers, etc.,) in a contrary and perhaps unexpected direction.  Of course, that's only my opinion...which doesn't substantially weaken my position."

You should have been around when we used to make up sentences in Latin and mail them to one another for the other to translate! It was very a good practice exercise!

I like it when I get little line drawings from Barbara included in her letters. And I love the cards she makes herself and sends to me. I'll share more of those as well as time goes on.

Well, I guess that's all for now. Shall I add in a bit of personal news? There isn't much, except that Thomas went for a follow up visit, the second since his surgery. The bone is healing and is still aligned right, but the surgeon wants him to stay off work for at least another three weeks, possibly four. {sigh}  We are learning what it is going to be like when he retires in a few years. 

I'm REALLY enjoying doing NaBloPoMo this year!!

~ ~ Lori 

*When quoting a letter, anything I type in brackets [ ] and/or in a different color will denote a personal comment from me. :)
 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

And Then There Was Sanaki....(lots of pictures!)

NaBloPoMo Post #22

All The Nyans, Part Nine


Back in June we had a hard rain than caused a lot of flash flooding of small creeks and rivers. The water went down pretty quickly, but for a while a lot of people had some flooding problems. Eler Beth got a call from a former workmate who had saved a small kitten from the flooded creek near her house. She said it was a very young baby, and would Eler Beth like to take care of it and try to find it a home because she wouldn't be able to do the bottle-feeding every day? So we hopped in the car and drove over to pick up this bedraggled orphan.

She was a very small torti calico with a pointy face and huge green eyes. She was skin and bones, so she'd either been an orphan for a while, or her mother was a stray and hadn't been in great shape either. We brought her home, and Eler Beth gave her a bath. She was a perky little thing, very interested in her surroundings, and didn't seem shy or scared of us at all. 

We housed her in the upper room of Remi's condo, no longer needed for Soren and Illyana.  We had been expecting to have to bring out the bottles and formula and start that process all over again, but we soon realized that although this kitten was tiny, she was not as young as we had been told. As a matter of fact, from her teeth, her eyes, and her demeanor, we were pretty sure she was at least five weeks old, possibly older. She could eat regular kitten food and lapped water just fine. It wasn't long before she was doing her business in a litter box.  

We kept her isolated from the other "Nyans" until we had her checked out and were pretty sure she was healthy. Then we introduced her to the others while still putting her up in the upper room at night.  Remi was taken with her right away -- she was just another playmate for him.  Soren and Illyana, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with her.  Bryant was happy to have another baby to care for. 

We called her Sanaki, or Naki for short. Nothing phased Naki. Bryant irritated her when he tried to clean her, but she put up with it. We'd take the kittens outside for a few minutes, and she was ready to wander off and explore while the other two stayed very close to us. She was about a third of their size but had an attitude three times bigger! 

We thought we had found a home for her, but that fell through.  I was skeptical as to whether she'd ever be pretty -- she was so skinny and that little face was so pointy. But as she started to put on some weight and fill out, her cheeks rounded out and her eyes didn't overpower her face so much.  And now I have to say she is quite beautiful. She has round, owl eyes, that look like big, green jewels in her face. She is serene and sweet and plays like it's going out of style.

We'd had her for about four weeks when we decided she was not going anywhere. Any other orphans that might be taken in in the future would have to have homes found for them, but Naki was already part of the family. Sori and Illy had finally adjusted to having a little sister, and our little "Scoop o' kitty" as we called her was here to stay.

We love all four of our little "Nyans."

  

Remi, Soren, and Illyana when they are all just a couple of months old, snuggling up together in Little Bit's bed.

Below, Remiel the night we first got home with him. Eler Beth fed him, and then he dropped off to sleep in her hand. He was only 5 weeks old.


 
 Soren also was very good at falling asleep in your hand!

Right, Remi being cute!

Below, Remi and Illyana, snuggled up together. Remi likes to look out the window. 



~ ~ Lori

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Blog Cleaning....

 

NaBloPoMo Post #21

Working With The Layout Tools You're Given

 

Committing to blogging every day this month has really made me want to get back into blogging. And if I'm going to commit to blogging at least once or twice a week after this month, I decided to try to change my blog layout a bit. 

Blogspot doesn't give one a lot to work with, but it's pretty easy to figure out, use, and move around the gadgets that they do give. I want to highlight the three series I'm going to try to continue, and so far what I've done over in my sidebar is the only way I can figure out how to do that. I'm not sure it's going to work though.

I actually tried earlier this year to start a blog using Wordpress. I follow some blogs on Wordpress, and I like how a few of them look. But when I tried it, it seemed a bit difficult and unwieldy to me, so I deleted it. I may try again, but I'll probably just stick to what I've got. 

If anyone has a suggestion as to how to highlight my series other than what I'm doing, I'm more than willing to listen. I may try out a few things in the next few days -- and then I'll probably just end up changing it back to how I have it now. Oh well! We shall see.

I'll be back tomorrow with something more interesting to read, hopefully.

'Till then, happy blogging!

~ ~ Lori 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Objects in Mirror Are Older Than They Appear....

 

NaBloPoMo Post #20

Letters From My Sister, Part One

 photo GlassesandBook.gifThe sister nearest to me in age is Barbara; she's six years older than I. Barbara probably has more talent, all tolled, than all of my family put together. She's an artist, working in several different mediums, a musician, and a writer. And she's just a really good person. She is the main care-giver for our brother Alton, who, after suffering a stroke about 18 years ago, has, in the past few years, declined into a bedridden state. She provides 90% of his physical care, and she does it uncomplainingly.

About three years ago Barbara started writing me a weekly letter -- an actual letter sent through the mail. I've always cherished her letters, beginning with the time she was away in the Marine Corp and continuing after I'd married and moved out of state. Cards and letters between us were sporadic at best. But a few years ago she began writing me, our sister Maxine who also lives in a different state, and one of our cousins, on a weekly basis. Her reason for beginning to write us weekly was, if I remember correctly, because she had a lot of old stationary, cards, and notepads that she wanted to use up. A good reason, right?

Even when there isn't any real news to tell, there is always something funny about her letters, a bit of wry humor, a funny clipping, a witty line drawing, and after reading them I can't wait to read them to Thomas and Eler Beth. It has occurred to me that I'd like to share them with others as well; at least parts of them. I'm not sure how she'd feel about this, but I think she'd give her okay. She's not quite as much of a recluse as she used to be. So another series I'm going to do, along with the On the Topic of Food series will be Letters From My Sister.  

I was recently glancing through a few from this year, and I came across a card she sent me right before my 49th birthday. It was a home made card.  On the cover she'd drawn a woman from behind, sitting in front of a dressing table and mirror.  On the inside was the mirror face with the words, "Objects in Mirror Are Older Than They Appear." 

Inside she'd written to me, 
"This applies to all of us, of course -- but you're the one that's about to get older. Mom was just figuring up how old you'll be, & her comment was, 'My land! My baby, about to be 49 years old...and the next one!...' The next one, of course, well, that would be me."  
I got a kick out of that.

So I look forward to sharing some interesting, funny, or just warm bits from some of my sister's letters, perhaps a few times a month. It will be a nice way of introducing my family to readers, and you might get a chuckle sometimes.



That's Barbara at about 7 years old, holding me when I was a baby. :)
 
Happy blogging!

~ ~ Lori

Moving on to Part Two

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Making Do and Making it Stretch; The Dumpling Dilemma....

 

NaBloPoMo Post #19

On the Topic of Food, Part Two


I remember when my mother explained why my grandmother made such large dumplings.

A dish that my father enjoyed was chicken and dumplings, and my mother would make it very simply with not a lot of veggies in it. There was the chicken, lots of broth, and very large, round, home made dumplings. (And I'm talking dumplings the size of a fist.) I always loved my mother's dumplings, but when I was older and had chicken and dumplings for the first time away from home, I was surprised that the dumplings were small, even squarish sometimes. That was new to me.

After Thomas and I got married, the first time I made chicken and dumplings I made the dumplings the way my mother had made them, although I did put more celery and carrots in than she had been used to do. Thomas said they were good but asked me why I had made the dumplings so big. I told him that was how I'd grown up having them and how I'd learned to make them. He asked if I could make them smaller the next time. I did and discovered that they were still too big for him. I did quickly learn to cook them just the way Thomas liked them, with -- to me -- very, very tiny little dumplings. He also prefers a lot of them, with very little broth left that hasn't soaked into the tiny little things. I liked them fine either way, although I must admit, sometimes I have a craving for them the way my Mom makes them. 

I remember telling my Mom about having to learn to make good little dumplings, and she said that actually her mother had always made them small, and that was actually how she'd learned to make them. But Dad had asked her if she'd make them large the way his mother had made them, so she did. I found that very, very funny. She'd changed from making them the way her mother had made them in order to please her husband, and I'd changed from making them the way she, my mother, had made them in order to please my husband.  

I find it interesting how methods and presentations of a dish can vary between families of such similar backgrounds. Mom said that Dad's mother made them so large because quite often she didn't really have enough chicken or vegetables to go around to feed all the children. But she almost always had plenty of flour for bread. So if she made the dumplings really large, it would stretch the meat and broth further. That made so much sense. Two or three large dumplings (into which the broth would not have totally soaked through) per child would be more filling with that child's portion of meat and vegetables. Yes, mothers contrive to feed their families when they have little means.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Why We Like What We Like

 

NaBloPoMo Post #18

On the Topic of Food, Part One

 

A general topic that I've wanted to write about for a while now is "food," but in particular how the ingredients in and preparations of certain dishes that are thought of as basic "plain," "ordinary," or "country" dishes can vary so much between different regions of the United States, and even between different families of the same region.

I was born and raised in Kentucky, and my family on both my mother's and father's sides had been in Kentucky for generations. Not only had they lived in Kentucky for generations, but they had stayed in the same relatively small area of Kentucky. So there weren't a lot of outside influences coming in from other cultures or regions to shake up family recipes and ways of doing things. 

Therefore, dishes that I grew up eating, with only a few exceptions, were the same dishes that most people who lived in and near my county were eating, prepared basically the same way. I think it was only a few years ago that I realized that there were some favorite meals of my father's that didn't quite fit in with the ordinary fare we usually had. It hit me that he probably had never had oysters until he joined the navy, and I probably would not have been one of those rare children who LOVED rolled oysters, if he hadn't brought that taste home with him. And there were a few simple dishes that my mother prepared a certain way to please my father, even though her mother had taught her a different way to prepare them, and their families had never lived more than a few miles from one another. This seemed very interesting to me, and I wanted to write about it in a way that might be interesting to other people. 

So that's what I'm going to attempt to do. I hope that what I end up putting down on paper turns out to be as interesting as it seemed to be when I wrote it in my head. The introduction might be a bit jumbled, and I don't expect it to flow correctly. But later posts in the series should be more cohesive.

So I hope you'll return to read future posts about food and the things that influence our tastes. I'll write about my parents and how they were raised; how my husband and I learned to like each other's favorite foods and how we learned to cook for one another; how where I was raised, there were NO fast food or ethnic restaurants and what it was like the first times I got to experience those things; how some people honestly have never given any thought to the fact that things can be cooked and served differently from the way they were brought up, and; other things regarding food and family that have popped into my head over the years, demanding to be written about.

So, until next time...

~ ~ Lori   

The Dumpling Dilemma