About Buffy

In another life I was a grade school band director. I still think of myself as a teacher despite the fact that it's been almost three decades since I was in the classroom. I've been the office for my husband's masonry company, cared for my mother for 20 years, and think of myself now as a quilter. Retirement, what retirement??!

Middle of the Night Post

It’s the middle of the night and my feet are keeping me awake, so I’m going to post just a few quick thoughts.

My Thanksgiving post was the last time I saw my nephew, Andy. I’m SO glad that we participated, and that I had the chance to be with him before he passed away! It’s a Thanksgiving that will stay in my memory.

I was able to read what I shared with you at Andy’s funeral. Every friend he had ever made attended, and friends of all his family members came, too. He was a special man, and I’m glad his friends made the time to say goodbye.

Cookies. I think I had ten types of cookies by the time I quit baking. I wish I could say the Kolacke turned out well, but some of them didn’t stay folded over. They tasted good, but should have been rolled out thinner. IF there is ever another baking season like this, I’ll make my mother’s recipe for Kolacke, instead. Her’s were the little pillows of enriched dough, with indentations for raspberry or apricot jam, sprinkled with 10X sugar. I remember them fondly, and would like to give them a try.

Dear Husband is now official! His glider pilot license came in the mail last week. His thoughts are turning toward gliding, despite the fact that we are in the middle of winter. He wants to make a trip to Florida to look at a plane that is for sale.

My “Christmas” cacti are in riotous bloom! I have two large plants in the front window that are a hot orange color, with scads of blooms in all stages, and there are two pots of starts in my bathroom window that have the lovely fuchsia color. When they finish blooming, some time in early spring, I’m going to repot them, but I can wait until the blooms are done for the year.

I organized a dinner at a Chinese restaurant for anyone in our exercise group who wished to attend. I thought perhaps 25 people would participate, and was pleased when 22 showed up. I looked out the window around 3:30 in the afternoon to see that it was SNOWING!! It has been dry and cold for days, and we were supposed to get rain later in the evening. Since a large part of our class is in their seventies or eighties, I was surprised that anyone attended at all! It will be interesting to hear what they have to say about the evening when we return to class.

Enough. Perhaps it’s time to see if I can sleep. Night, all!

Christmas Giving

I’ve probably posted on this subject every year for the past ten years. I feel like the Grinch! I really don’t like to shop, and rarely know what to give my family, yet I need to make the effort.

My oldest sister gave me a book I can’t wait to read. My younger sister, who knows that we love to watch our backyard birds, gave us a suet holder and suet, and birdseed bells. Both of these are perfect gifts, something I really enjoy. Now, why couldn’t I remember that they love these things, too?

I told someone recently that I thought we should either have a specific limit as to how much we could spend on a gift, or, perhaps we should try having a year where we only gave things we made. I’ve been operating along a mix of those two ideas for a while, and both of them have pros and cons. It takes a lot of time to make things for my entire family, and not everyone wants something I can make. There are times when the perfect gift falls outside the cash limit that has been set. I need more ideas. I want to give more than a card, but not be bankrupt at the end of the holidays.

And, time is always an issue. I may have to start working on Christmas in September to accomplish everything. It takes a LOT longer these days to get it all done.

I feel very Grinch-y right now. It’s a good thing Christmas is past.

I Love Winter

I love winter when the sidewalks have been shoveled and the pavement is dry. I love winter when the roads are plowed and there is no slipping or skidding of cars on the road. I love winter when I can stand inside my cozy home and look out on the new-fallen, glittery white snow. I love winter when the temperature is between 30 and 40. I love winter when there is little wind, and very little wind chill.

I really do like winter, but as I age, the danger of slipping as I walk is a much more serious matter than it used to be. I don’t drive in snow storms unless I have no option. I don’t own clothing appropriate for temperatures below 20, or for snows higher than about six inches, and I don’t really want to!

Now that we live in a subdivision with sidewalks, we have to shovel, but the driveway is quite short, and the sidewalk length is manageable if we double team it. Still, I need to find someone to do our shoveling. Dear Husband shouldn’t be lifting heavy, wet snow, and I really don’t care to do the entire job on my own.

On the bright side, winter gives me a chance to piece quilts! I can hibernate in the basement, and sew to my heart’s content. Some days I barely make it upstairs in time for meals, and it’s a darned good thing that my hubby knows how to cook!

When spring arrives, perhaps the neighbors will see me once more.

Christmas Cookies

I’ve been baking, and I expect to bake all this week. I started with Turtle Pecan Shortbread. The picture looked wonderful, and the shortbread, which had almond extract, smelled heavenly! But, the caramel was a problem. You’re supposed to melt 24 caramels, and then dip two sides of the pie-shaped cookies in the caramel, and then in chopped pecans. The caramel is so hard and chewy you could break your teeth on it!

I have about 18 shortbread left that didn’t get to meet the caramel. I’m going to use chocolate to glue half a pecan on the center of each, and then drizzle them with chocolate. I’m thinking about dredging one edge in the melted chocolate and then in pecans, but I may opt for the easier version.

On the more successful side, I’ve baked Russian Tea Cakes (the little confectioner sugar snowballs), Peanut Butter Blossoms (which aren’t really a Christmas cookie, but are something my family likes at Christmas) and Thumbprints. I’ve frozen the Thumbprints, to be filled with jelly and/or icing later this week. I followed the directions, but they still turned out to be a two-bite cookie. I’ll have to talk with my youngest sis to see how she does them, because hers are one-bite.

I’ve also made fudge with semi-sweet chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and walnuts. And, I’ve made Haystacks with milk chocolate. I’m thinking about one more run of fudge, with milk chocolate.

I’m working on Kolache, the kind which are made from LOTS of butter, cream cheese and flour. I plan to use raspberry and apricot fillings, and I’m going to create and fill the cookies and then freeze them. They can be baked Christmas Eve morning.

I also plan to make “Fanciful Raspberry Ribbons,” and Sugar Crisp. (LOTS of Sugar Crisp.) That should be more than enough to create gift trays and have plenty for our house, too. I hope I manage to get them all done, and artfully arranged on the trays by Christmas Eve!

Andy

My nephew, John Andrew McGrath has passed away at 57. He had been ill for some time, and in great pain, and I believe his body was just worn out from the fight of dealing with it.

Andy will be cremated, and in a week there will be a visitation and funeral. If I can, and I’m not sure my tears will let me, I’d like to say this to those gathered:

HE’S AT PEACE. HE’S NO LONGER IN PAIN.

HE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT, AND GOD SAID, “IT’S TIME. COME HOME.”

WE MAY WANT TO QUIBBLE WITH GOD ABOUT WHO NEEDS HIM MORE, BUT I THINK GOD WOULD UNDERSTAND THAT WE MISS ANDY, SORELY. BUT ANDY IS FREE OF PAIN. HOW COULD WE BEGRUDGE HIM THE SURCEASE?

I HAVE MEMORIES OF ANDY, SOME OF THEM SHARED WITH ME BY OTHERS…

OF OUR SOCIAL ANDY RUNNING DOWN ROUTE 59 IN PLAINFIELD IN A SAGGY DIAPER, HAVING ESCAPED FROM THE BACK YARD OF THE HOUSE ON BARTLETT.

OR OF HIS HALLOWEEN COSTUMES.

DID I HEAR THAT HE DRESSED AS THE EASTER BUNNY???

BUT, THE MEMORY THAT I WILL ALWAYS TREASURE IS OF HAVING WATCHED ANDY DANCE IN HIS EARLY TWENTIES.

ANDY HEARD THE BEAT. HE HEARD THE RYTHMN, THE HARMONIES, THE FORWARD MOTION CREATED BY THE COMPOSER, AND THE LYRICS.

HE HEARD IT ALL, AND HE TRANSLATED IT INTO JOYOUS MOVEMENT. I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYONE ELSE MOVE AS ANDY DID, AND I CHOOSE TO REMEMBER THAT HAPPY MOMENT.

JOHN ANDREW MCGRATH, YOU FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT.
I WILL MISS YOU AND KEEP YOU IN MY HEART,

FOREVER.

Generations and Holidays

My siblings are widely spread apart in years. There’s nineteen years between my oldest and youngest sisters. My two older sisters have four generations on their family trees, while my youngest sister and I are grandmothers of fairly young children.

I tell you this because I’ve been thinking about Thanksgiving, and how it has changed over the years. When we were young, even when we were newlyweds, we all gravitated home to share Thanksgiving with Mom and Dad. Those who married into our family occasionally complained that we were a tight-knit bunch and that we always wanted to be together. It meant that spouses celebrated with us when they might have occasionally wanted to celebrate with their families.

We have done the same Thanksgiving dinner for years, even when Dad arranged for us all to dine out together one year. Turkey, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Dressing and Stuffing, Green Bean Casserole, Broccoli Rice Casserole, Vernice Kastman rolls, and Mother’s pumpkin pie. My oldest sister makes a cranberry sauce, too.

This meal has altered a bit over time, with interesting veggies being added as one branch of the family veered toward a cruciferous diet, and another needed to go gluten-free, but the basic meal is still there. I personally am very happy that someone introduced pretzel salad to the mix! My preferred version is raspberry but one of my nieces made two of them last year, so that her stepfather could have strawberry pretzel salad.

Unfortunately, we’ve discovered that as you add generations to a family, it’s really difficult to keep drawing them all to one dining room. Now that both Dad and Mom have passed away, we have splintered into smaller groups. Distance and other family celebrations pull our younger ones away. I wonder if we will see a time when just the five of us, and our spouses meet for Thanksgiving, while the kids go off and do their own thing.

I truly loved hosting the family during the time when Mom lived with us. We set up three large tables, and occasionally a couple of smaller ones, and I chose to sit at the kid’s table, so I could see how they had grown over the year, and hear a new crop of jokes. We have some fierce competitors among the younger ones. If you got suckered into any of the games played after dinner, you learned early on that they took no prisoners!

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving with my oldest sister’s side of the family. Dear Husband and I will take a Caesar salad, corn for the young kids, and Vernice Kastman rolls. It will be fun to catch up with her family and hear how things have changed this year.

To my friends, and the rest of my family, we hope that you have a wonderful day filled with loved ones and great meals. May we all reflect on just how fortunate we all are, and give Thanks.

He Did it!

Dear Husband has passed all three parts of the test to become a licensed glider pilot! YEAAAAA! He brought it down to the wire, but was able to squeeze in the flight test before they took apart the last glider for the winter. It’s a testament to the fact that he has built friendships, that they were willing to hold off so that he could finish his licensing.

This test makes him a pilot for life, but the glider association will require that he pass a test every two years to reassure them that he is still qualified to fly their planes.

Now that he is licensed, he is also eligible to be a board member. I don’t know if he embraces that option, or if he would like to avoid it. We’ve had more than enough politics in the past two years. I probably won’t hear anything more about METARS, NOTAMS, DUATS, or the PAVE model until he needs to review for the next test.

Congratulations, Sweetie! You Did It!

To Decorate or Not to Decorate

There are two sides to this issue. There are people who want to get the decorating done so that they can enjoy the entire season, and those who feel that we should not consider anything having to do with Christmas prior to Thanksgiving. I’m one of the latter.

I realize that it makes sense to get your outside decorations up when you have a 70 degree day in the middle of November. I don’t mind the lights so much, especially when they remain turned off until after Thanksgiving, but other things, like candy canes lining the sidewalk, and lighted reindeer grazing on the lawn surely could wait another week!

We drove past a farmhouse today that had a lovely Christmas tree in their front window, with the lights on. Rushing it, a bit…. Three of my nieces started decorating their houses for Christmas the day after Halloween. We see pictures of their children in red and white striped pajamas on Facebook, daily. I KNOW they love Christmas, and that it’s a job to decorate the ENTIRE HOUSE. I just think we need to show some restraint.

Perhaps we need to move Thanksgiving to the first Thursday of the month. No….that would be too close to Halloween. It could be the day after Halloween, which would never work! Maybe the second Thursday of the month. Or, maybe I’ll just stay at home and close my eyes to all that early decorating. It may be the only way I can resolve the issue to my satisfaction.

When I am Queen, we will not decorate for Christmas until AFTER Thanksgiving!

Odds and Ends

Today was a day of odds and ends, errands and good deeds.

At exercise today we said goodbye to a member who is moving to Texas to be close to her children. She, too, is a quilter, so we occasionally had the chance to talk about our favorite pastime. Our exercise guru brought a big platter of cookies, and encouraged everyone to help themselves and take the time to say our goodbyes.

I started taking pictures of class members in groups of four. I want to see if this is a possible way to put together a picture album so that class members can learn each other’s names. If I can do them four to a picture, the cost would be much more manageable, given that we have over forty in our class. I need to work with my computer to learn how to “tag” people in a photo, for this to work.

After class, four of us gathered baked goods the class donated and dropped them off at the Army Reserve unit. One of the women in our class encourages us to let the military know that we support them. We mailed 15 boxes overseas to three servicemen related to class members, and we collected baked goods for the local reservists who will be on maneuvers this weekend.

Because of the wind, the soaring association didn’t meet today, so Dear Husband was willing to give me a hand with errands. Our next stop was at church. The Empty Nesters are gathering items to fill four laundry baskets for women being helped by a shelter the church supports. We donated large containers of Tide, sponges, kitchen scrubbing sponges and zip-type storage bags. I was really grateful to have the help carrying everything in. And, while I was there, I got to meet the interim pastor and give him a quilt from Scraps on a Mission (two more things I really needed to get done.)

I thought we might stop there, but Dear Husband was willing to make a 60 mile round trip so that we could pick up my sewing machine. With Scraps on a Mission ending for this year, it was time to get the machine cleaned and checked out. I take it back to the shop where I bought it, so we’ve made that trip twice in about a week. It’s good that he was able to get to it so quickly.

We had lunch and then made our way home. Naps seemed like a really good idea, but we got caught up in a movie that lasted until dinner time. Ah, the life of a retiree.

I’m delighted that we got so much done, ahead of the worst of the bad weather coming our way!

The Good Thing About High Winds

…is that you may not have to rake your lawn when they die down. Of course, while your leaves may be in the next town, you might gain someone else’s leaves. You just have to wait to see how things settle. I figured that we might have to rake part of our neighbor’s lawn because our leaves were being blown into their yard, but we may luck out.

Dear Husband has a flight test to take to finish the requirements for his pilot’s license. It was scheduled for tomorrow, but it’s been put off until Sunday. That’s a good thing, because the winds will be so high that there won’t be any flights tomorrow. Unfortunately, Sunday is the day the association will be taking the gliders apart for winter storage. Fortunately, they are receptive to Dear Husband’s need, and will save his glider for last. Keep him in your prayers and positive thoughts, please. I hope that he will accomplish his goal and not have to carry this over to next year.

The winds are really gusting tonight. I think the noise may make for restless sleep. For sure, we will have to keep an eye on the roof to see if any shingles need to be replaced after this weekend. It could be worse. Somewhere to the North, they reported 33 inches of snow. At least we have just the wind!