Friday, February 16, 2018

Aunt Nollie’s sweater

A couple of weeks ago my sister wrote me that she had visited my aunt in the Alzheimer's nursing home and that she was wearing a thin tee shirt and a towel.  She went to her room to find her some warm clothes and found none in her chest of drawers nor in her closet.  I decided to hit my local Goodwill and buy her a new sweatshirt.

I was thinking I should try to find her some of those labels you can sew into your clothes with her name on them.  I'd look on line.

I went to my local Goodwill and a bright pink sweater hoodie caught my eye.  I checked the label to see what size it was and it said, "Nollie".  Flabbergasted I bought the shirt without knowing what the price was.  My aunt's name is Nollie.  How often do you hear that name?  Never?  I know.

I just love Twilight Zone moments.

This is a post from several years ago.

My precious Aunt Nollie passed away yesterday physically.  Her soul had passed away several years ago.  This breaks my heart and yet I am so relieved for her and all that loved her.  Rest in Peace Aunt Nollie.  I loved you like a sister.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

So many exciting things have happened in my life that I am not sure where to begin.  I guess childhood.  In second grade I was in a spelling bee.  My word was “pants”.  I repeated the word but pronounced it as “paints”.  My teacher corrected me and told me the word was pants and not paints.  I spelled it correctly, but I remember that was the first time I realized that I had an accent and would try my hardest to pronounce words correctly after that.  The beginning of my unending quest to lose my accent.

In eighth grade I was voted to be on the junior varsity cheerleading squad.  My parents were horrified.  I was thrilled to oblivion.  I had four years of cheering in high school and two years in college and they were some of the best times of my life.

I met my husband and he certainly changed my life.  He took me on our honeymoon to Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin which is one of my very favorite places in the world.  We swam in a crystal clean lake and lay in the sun on these humungous rocks by the shore.  I got one of the worst sun burns in my life, which didn’t help the honeymoon, but we had a great time.
Years later he would convince me to take Scuba Diving in my college classes.  Never in my dreams would I have believed that I would scuba dive.  I wouldn’t have passed the physics had it not been for him.  I had to miss my checkout dive as I had just found out that I was pregnant.

The next year I did pass my checkout dive and we dove all over Ohio in various quarries and had such a wonderful time.  He took me to Jamaica for our twentieth anniversary and we snorkeled in the Caribbean.  In later years, we did scuba dive the Caribbean several times.

When Jess was in junior high she became obsessed with hot air balloons.  She and her dad made a model of a balloon and she did her science project on hot air balloons.  That summer we were invited to the local hot air balloon rally and we got to crew for one of the entrants.

Some years later, one of my girlfriends married a gentleman from Holland who had a hot air balloon and we crewed for him.  I have ridden in a hot air balloon more times than I can remember.  Being afraid of heights, the first ride with Jess along, was pretty scary but Jess was so excited that I had to calm down.  I hunkered in the balloon basket until we set off and then I stood, looked down and fell in love.

A lot of our close friends were musicians.  The hubster picked his guitar back up and started to relearn to play.  I sang harmony with some of the singers and we had such fun on our deck playing music.  We had parties and would stay up all night.  We would do a song and then someone would say, “just one more.”  We saw the sun rise many of those nights.
The group formed a band and called ourselves, “Front Porch Jam.” We practiced in our garage and all of our neighbors would set up lounge chairs in the driveways and listen to us play.  In 1999, the band performed on stage at “On the Waterfront” in Rockford, Illinois in front of a huge crowd.  It was the happiest day of my life.

I also had two of the best children who grew up to be wonderful adults.  Addi read the play in Kindergarten and we were so proud of her. She was also Salutatorian of her high school class. Jess won the “Young Authors” contest at her elementary school one year.  They were both just outstanding people.

And now I have a grandchild.  I never imagined that I would become a grandmother.  He is adorable, beautiful and so sweet.  He lives very far away but I plan to visit, and they are coming for a week in June.  Now that is exciting!

Peace be with you.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Yesterday I made a batch of homemade hummus.  I had read this obituary on Facebook that morning and it had inspired me to do such.  The obit was for Terry Ward of Crown Point, Indiana.  One of my FB friends had posted it.  I got a good chuckle out of old Terry’s obit and in his memory and honor, I made hummus which his family called “bean dip” to get him to eat it, I suppose.

I love hummus and buy it on occasion, but I really like the homemade stuff.  I looked up a recipe for hummus without tahini, since I didn’t have any on hand.  I found a recipe and followed it but as usual, I changed it around a little bit.

1 can of garbanzo beans drained and washed and allowed to dry
3 cloves of garlic
Juice of one lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp. sesame oil

Whirled those ingredients in the “food processor that wouldn’t die” and when I got out my box of Triscuits with rosemary and olive oil, I found that there were only one and a half crackers left in the box.  I’m sure this was the hubster’s doing.  I’d never leave one and a half crackers.  I ate the hummus on the one and a half crackers and shook the remains onto my hummus.  It was delicious.  I may have to add a bit of rosemary the next time I make hummus.

I would like to thank five people today who enabled me to make the hummus.  Jeff and Diane Scaduto gave me the “food processor that wouldn’t die” and I cannot thank them enough.  I don’t recall how many years I have used this gadget, but I am truly thankful.

I would also like to thank Mike Kelly for giving me a juicer than I have used just about as many times as I have used the “food processor that wouldn’t die”.  I use it for oranges, lemons and limes.

I would also like to say “thank you” to Jeff and Ellie Webb. Ellie and her hubster sent me over two dozen fresh lemons a while back.  I used my big juicer to make juice and I froze it in ice cube trays.  Nothing like a fresh lemon.  And when I can tomatoes next summer I will have REAL lemon juice.

And old Terry Ward’s obituary got me thinking about my own obituary.  I’d like for everyone involved in my life’s celebration to go to my house and cook the contents of my freezer and pantry and have a huge picnic.  As you probably know, I am a food hoarder.  I try my best not to go to the grocery except for what we REALLY need but end up getting more because they had it on sale, or the display was pretty, or I got a free sample and felt I had to buy some.

If you see me around today or tomorrow, keep your distance.  I did use three cloves of garlic in that hummus and I’m sure I reek of it today.

Peace be with you.

PS  thanks to Lorraine Watson who gave me the loveliest rag rug.  You are the best!  Sorry I lost the photo.

Monday, January 22, 2018

My grandfather was Challie Chap Long.  He was born in 1898 on December 9.  He grew to be a tall man and was blonde and quite handsome.  I didn’t know my grandfather well, but I have vivid memories of him.  He was a quiet man and must have been a strict disciplinarian because my mother told me he once whipped her with a hand saw.

When my grandparents moved to Ohio from Kentucky, grandpa took a job as a gardener for a man who owned a very large automobile sales dealership.  The man had a large estate near Lebanon, Ohio and he wanted it planted with a forest of trees.  My grandfather worked for several years planting trees on his property and now there is a huge forest and you cannot see the house from the road.

My grandfather was the first person I had ever heard of having Alzheimer’s Disease.  It all started with him wandering away from home.  He had difficulty remembering who he was and where he lived.  He and grandma finally moved into my Aunt Reva’s home and lived there for a short period of time.  He was finally moved to a facility where he spent the rest of his life.

My aunts would take turns going to take care of him.  They bathed him and changed him and sat with him.  Once they were unable to be with him and asked me if I would stay with him.  I was sort of afraid but determined that I would go watch my grandfather.  I took along a portable radio and we listened to the Cincinnati Reds game on the radio.  I knew he was probably unable to comprehend the game, but I remembered that he always listened to every game.  I talked to him about the great plays just as if he and I were communicating.  It was a wonderful memory of my grandpa.

Grandma Mintie Alice Bayes Long was born on October 18, 1898.  She was a plain looking woman, but I thought her to be lovely.  She smelled of cloves because she always carried Clove chewing gum in her purse.

Grandma was the one woman who talked to me about my periods.  I believe my cousin, Faye, and I were visiting her.  My cousin and I both had horrible cramps when we got our period.  Grandma said when she was a girl they would refer to their time of the month as a visit from Granny Harper.  I thought that so funny.

Grandma made the absolute best green beans in the world.  I always looked forward to eating at her house.  The green bean’s pod would turn maroon when they were cooked, and it made a broth that was more like gravy.  I have searched everywhere for these beans and am trying a new kind this year from a rare seed catalog.

I didn’t look forward to treats at Grandma’s house because her favorite cookie was wafer cookies in chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.  I still hate those cookies.

I was told that my Grandmother was an herbalist when she lived in Kentucky.  It was said that people came to her for her home remedies.  This is my worst regret that I didn’t know this, and I could have learned a great deal of knowledge from her.

My grandmother was a Libra, same as my mother, me and my daughter, Jessica.  Libras are prone to poor circulation and my grandmother succumbed to that trait.  She lived with my Aunt who took excellent care of her.  She would massage her hands with lotion and my grandma had the smoothest hands ever.

She was hospitalized in her final days and had to have one of her feet amputated.  She didn’t live much longer after that.

My grandparents are buried in Kentucky together.  I often wonder if they buried her foot with her.

Peace be with you.

Monday, January 15, 2018

When I was little my father worked the night shift at Frigidaire.  During the day he layed brick and plowed other people’s gardens.  I never knew when he found the time to sit down.  He had a lot of energy and was an excellent story teller.  He was also very funny and liked to “fool around”.  Except at church, and there he was always very serious

I could never go to sleep until 11:15 at night when he got home from work.  It just felt so safe to know that he was home and in the house.

There came a time when I was not allowed to sit on his lap.  The church felt it was not right for little girls to sit on their father’s lap.  I didn’t understand that until I was grown.  People at church talked about this one father who had six little girls, and they all would take turns sitting on his lap.

My daddy was an emotional man and I saw him cry for the first time when his best friend died.  I will never forget the emotion that made him shiver and cry so.  I only saw him cry a couple of other times in my life.

Daddy and Mother got along quite well but I did see them argue once over my sister running around with an older man.  My mother threatened to sit on him if he didn’t straighten up.  That was only the second time I remember him reprimand any of us kids.  I believe my sister got a good whipping.

My brother had this annoying habit of running through the house and jumping up to touch the ceiling.  He said he was practicing his layup basketball shot.  I started running through the house and touching the lower entry to the kitchen.  Once I was doing this and Daddy was sitting on the couch by the entryway.  I jumped and touched the ceiling, but my hand slipped and I knocked down a little plastic thingie that hung on the wall.  It fell and hit Daddy.
He jumped up and said he was sick and tired of us doing this and he would put an end to it.  He took off his belt and gave me the whipping of my life.  It didn’t hurt pain wise so much as it hurt my feelings that my Daddy had whipped me.  I believe my brother and I never jumped in the house again.

Daddy and all his church friends played guitars and other instruments.  They would trade off instruments and try to learn to play them.  We got to try out the mandolin, a Dobro guitar, a banjo and a ukulele.  It was so fun.  I loved the mandolin and learned quite a few songs on it.

I never saw my father as happy as when he was playing his guitar and singing with all his friends.  He and mother would sit in the evenings and play and sing.  We kids would join in and it was very entertaining.

Sundays were especially fun.  A lot of church folk would get together at one of their homes.  The women would fix lunch and the guys would tune up the instruments and get ready for a sing-a-long.  We kids would play outside and have the best time.  Then later it was off to church again for the evening’s service.

Daddy just loved ice cream.  After church on Sunday night he would hem and haw and finally say, “Who wants ice cream?”  We all agreed and off we went to get yummy ice cream.  I know he enjoyed getting the treat for us, but I know he just wanted the ice cream himself.  His favorite was Butter Pecan and now-a-days when I get an ice cream I always get Butter Pecan and say it is for my Daddy.

Marshall VanHoose was a wonderful father but he did things for me instead of teaching me how to do it.  I often wished he had taught me how to lay brick.  He was meticulous in his brick laying.  He didn’t teach me about gardening and used to laugh at my one row of beans, four tomato plants and some herbs.  I wish he could see my gardens these days.
I wrote this poem before my parents died and I would like to share it


"Back when we were kids," "When I was young,"
I heard them say more times than one.
Their clothes were square, their ways out of jive,
But the smile I saw in my father's eye
When he spoke of good times
And the look exchanged between two people sharing a memory.
Mother and daughter, father and son
It's a shame we didn't know them
When they were young.
My memory of them is stuck at that stage,
With old fashioned hairstyles at a really old age.
And I don't recognize the strangers I meet,
At Christmas and Easter or Thanksgiving feasts.
They keep that look in their eye hid
Until one says, "When I was a kid,"
And those folks are back with me and I am home.
Mother and daughter, father and son
It's a shame we didn't know them
When they were young.
Now I'm grown and have kids to raise,
I find myself on occasion using that phrase,
"When I was a kid", or "When I was young."
I don't suppose my own kids have that yen
To have known me when I was a kid...
It's not possible for its not that late,
Though they say I'm old fashioned, my hair out of date.
I'm still lively and full of vim,
And most of all I can remember when...
I can't believe it, but it must be true
The roles are changed, the faces new.
Do my kids see me the same way I know?
I saw my Mom and Dad a long time ago?
 And in a few years will they proclaim?
To have kids who see the same?
We live our lives
Failing to realize.
Mother and daughter, father and son
It's a shame we didn't know them
When they were young.

Friday, January 12, 2018

When I was a child, my mother coddled me.  I didn’t have many chores except to make my bed and clean the bathroom once a week.  My mother and father had grown up with outhouses and my mother was repulsed at cleaning the bathroom.  I didn’t mind.  It was an easy chore and it looked so sparkling clean when I finished.  I still don’t mind cleaning the bathroom.

When I was a teenager my mother had to have an operation, and was in the hospital for several days.  My father expected me to cook for him and I didn’t have a clue as what to do.  I remember trying to make gravy.  Luckily, the biscuits were from a tube in the fridge.  I got out my mom’s cookbook (that she never used) and looked up how to make gravy.  My dad laughed at me.  “You don’t know how to make gravy?”  As if every female child is born with the innate ability to make gravy.

I made the gravy and served the biscuits to him.  “You forgot the salt.  This tastes like glue,” he chastised at me.  Well if no one ever taught you how to cook, how in the heck are you supposed to just cook?

Sometime after that, I was working a concession stand in Chautauqua near my home and one of my co-workers made us sloppy joes for lunch.  I made them for my parents a few days later.  I was so proud of myself.

My next venture in cooking was when I ate lasagna for the first time.  I went to the library and got a cook book with the recipe and my mother and I made lasagna.  Daddy didn’t like it because he didn’t like cooked cheese.  (Who doesn’t like cooked cheese?)

Another thing that my mother would let me make using her kitchen was these most horrible chocolate oatmeal cookies that you didn’t bake.  I made them once for my girls when they were little and realized how awful they really were.

I was allowed on occasion to get a Chef Boyardee pizza mix and make a pizza for myself.
When I moved to Middletown to attend college, my roommate, Pat, and I cooked for ourselves frequently.  Our specialty was tuna casserole.  I still love tuna casserole.  Pat made it for me when I visited her a few years ago.

That next summer I worked as the fountain girl at a local Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant.  The head cook taught me to make salads, so they were ready made for the waitresses.  I still love to make salads and have perfected my Big Ass Salad which people ask me to bring to pot lucks frequently.

Once when the hubster and I were first married we didn’t have a lot of cash to buy groceries.  We purchased a cooked canned chicken and the cashier misread the label and we paid 29 cents for the thing instead of the $4.29 it was marked as.  We felt like we had won the lottery.  We made the absolute worst Chicken Cacciatore out of it and it was a true feast.

When my girls were little I was determined that they would not grow up not knowing how to cook.  They sat on the kitchen counters when I cooked and I explained everything I did.  They smelled the herbs and spices as I added them to my concoction.  Jess didn’t like onions at all and so I kept them separate from my recipes.

Once Addi insisted that she would turn the pancakes.  I put her on a stool and gave her the spatula.  She unfortunately used her finger to help flip the pancake and burned her finger.  You’d have thought she set her whole hand on fire.  We then learned to use a chopstick to help turn the pancake.

When the girls were a bit older I insisted that they make at least one meal every week during the summer.  Addi came up with this recipe for turkey meat balls, and the sauce was a mixture of apricot jam and mayonnaise.  It was delicious!  Jess read a recipe on the back of the soy sauce and made Firey Chicken and it was wonderful also.

My girls grew up to love cooking as much as I do.  I believe I love to cook because I love to eat.  And I love to try new things.

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

When I was a child we didn’t take many vacations.  We usually went to Kentucky and stayed with my Aunt Ola.  My parents would visit friends and family that lived close to her.  We kids would run around barefooted and play in the yard.  My aunt’s sons, Gerald and Emerson, were a lot of fun.  We played games and even played guitar and sang songs.  I loved going to my Aunt Ola’s house so much.  She always had baked chocolate pies for our visits.

I do not recall much of our first vacation but remember it because of everyone who talked about it.  We packed up the car and drove to the Smokie Mountains.  I don’t remember if my sister came along but I know brother Russ was.  It seems as though Russ saved all of our lives.  We were driving along and Russ fell asleep.  When we stopped for whatever reason they couldn’t wake him up.  I don’t know if we took him to the hospital or what, but it seems that our exhaust was coming back into the car and my brother was susceptible to the carbon monoxide, more so than the rest of us

We got the vehicle repaired and continued on our journey.  We stopped at a restaurant and ordered breakfast.  When the waitress asked daddy how he wanted his eggs, he replied, “Done.”  I guess everyone got a real chuckle out of that reply.

I also remember that the mountains were so high and beautiful.  We stopped at a lookout and mother got so dizzy from the height that she reeled and almost fell before daddy grabbed and caught her.

I must have been very young because I really don’t remember this, it is just what I had heard from my family.

I do remember a trip we took when my brother was in the Air Force.  He was stationed at Fort Bragg, NC.  We decided we would go see him and packed up the car and drove to the air force base.  Russ joined us and we set off for Myrtle Beach, SC.  I remember distinctly the first time I saw the ocean.  We drove through the town of Myrtle Beach and went up a hill.  When we got to the top you could see the ocean and how vast it was.  As far as the eye could see and further than my mind could believe.

We stayed in a motel that had a pool but we spent most of our time at the beach.  You could rent these little inflatable rafts and paddle out to the buoys.  Then you climbed on the raft and the waves would carry you into the shore.  I have never seen my father whoop and holler so much.  He had the best time.  We all did.  Well except for my mother.  She couldn’t swim and was scared of the water.  We did finally convince her to doff her shoes and wade in the waves.

My first trip alone, without my family, was in my Senior year of high school when my friend, Shirley Smith, and I flew to Akron, Ohio to visit my sister.  My first airplane trip was wonderful.  I was really afraid at first, but as soon as we got in the air, I was fine.  I do believe we applauded when the pilot landed the plane.

My most memorable trip with my family was when we once drove to Florida for spring break.  The girls were so funny.  Addi hung her Barbie doll in the window by her hair and would wave to people driving by.  The girls had monkey noses that they got in their happy box from McDonalds.  Addi put her dunking bag (why she had it I don’t know) over her head and put on the monkey nose.  She waved to everyone going by.  We got caught in a traffic jam and we made signs to hold up for our neighbors to read.  We were behind a car from Alaska and dad suggested we hold up a sign for them that read, “Had any good blubber lately.”

We caught vacation lunacy and giggled our butts off.  We stopped at a facility that sold fresh oranges.  The girls got these little gadgets that you screwed into your orange and you could suck the juice right out.

We stayed at a place right near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge connecting Tampa and St. Petersburg.  Jess and I sat on the beach that evening and looked at the stars.  She started singing “When the lights go down in the city” and I joined in while hugging her.

The next day Jess and I went into town and viewed “The Red Couch” display at the Art Museum.  It was about a book that has photos of famous and not so famous people sitting on this red couch.  It was really cool!

I remember on our trip back we saw a hot air balloon in the air and watched it for several miles.  Years later, the girls and I were part of a hot air balloon crew.

Peace be with you.