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!

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!

Lots of little things

The past three or four days have been gorgeous! We have a small maple in the back yard that looked like it was on fire! We enjoyed the color with the sun rise, and through the day, until it lit up the back yard as the sun was setting. Then, we had a rainy night. The next morning it was as if the tree had blown a raspberry and dropped ALL it’s leaves! Our tiny back yard has a lot of wonderful trees, but this one speaks to my heart.

I think we may have the stupidest squirrels in town. I bought one of those bird feeders that has the bar that closes off access to the seed when something too heavy (read: squirrels) sits on the bar. We don’t have a great deal of space along the patio where we could plant the bird feeder. I thought I’d chosen a place far enough from our flaming maple, but I underestimated the squirrel’s leap. However, I’ve been saved by the fact that they aren’t familiar with this style of feeder. They fly off the tree and land on the feeder, and then sit there. They don’t seem to understand how to slide down to the bin. I’m anticipating some fun watching them try to figure out how to hang off the edge of the feeder and scoop seed into their mouths.

Scraps on a Mission has had their last meeting. We made 42 quilts this year, and shared them with 2 shelters, a hospice and the pediatric department at the hospital. Two members of the church have received quilts, too. During this session I needed to make four baby quilts for my extended family. Those were my only personal quilts during the summer. Today I started working on a quilt top that has been patiently waiting for me for several years. This one is the only quilt I’ve ever made of Depression era reproduction fabrics. It will be bright and cheery, with white to contrast the pink, yellow, orange, green, blue and purple fabrics. I have all the patchwork sewn (actually twice as much as I need), so I just need to sew the rows together. Once I see what is left over, I can decide whether I’ll make a second top, or two baby quilts. It’s good to be getting things finished!

Dear Husband is studying for his oral and flight test, which is scheduled for a week from today. Each day we go over a portion of the study guide. I give him the subject and encourage him to tell me what he knows about it. I’m learning a LOT about soaring! I hope and pray he does well, and gets his certification this month.

We’ve had a month of wretched excess thanks to birthdays and anniversaries. Both DH and I have October birthdays. Our anniversary was in September. The kids gather each year to celebrate their father’s birthday. DH decided this year that we would go somewhere where our granddaughters might not be able to order grilled cheese, or mac’n’cheese. We have watched them eat endless meals with no variety. So, he chose Benihana! It was a joy to watch them experience the “circus” part of the meal, and they were able to find loads of things that they would eat: chicken, shrimp, corn, noodles, soup and rice. We had a good time, and the kids will be talking about it for years to come.

Happy Fall, All!

Move to Trash

My blog is published on the Word Press platform, and I just noticed that they provide the option to Preview, Publish or Move to Trash. A great deal of what I post could be moved to trash. This is not the place to come to solve the world problems. You’re more likely to find the minutiae of my life. Tonight’s thoughts:

When I was working on my master’s degree, I had to take a class called “Mental Health.” For some reason when I say those words, the image of someone holding a hose to one ear to wash unhealthy thoughts from their mind pops into my head. I wonder if our teacher planted that image when she introduced us to the subject? It doesn’t seem likely to have originated with me.

Speaking of mental health, the election is driving me crazy. I have come to hate the election campaigns. We allow this tripe to go on MUCH too long. I would wholeheartedly support limitations on the duration of presidential campaigns. For that matter, we could limit how much is spent on a campaign, too.

Election debates: I think once a participant has had their two-minute say, their microphone should be turned off. Personally, I think time should be taken away from a person who talks out of turn and given to the other debater. Or we might consider electric shock, in increasing voltage for repeated offenses, for those who can not restrain themselves. I’d also like a siren to sound when a candidate waffles and avoids responding to the question. DO NOT WASTE MY TIME WITH THIS SILLINESS!!

The CUBS! I’m afraid to talk about it. Watching the most recent games was a thrilling roller coaster ride. Beyond that, I don’t want to jinx them with my hopes.

I want new feet. My feet hurt so much tonight that I couldn’t sleep. Hence, this silly post. At least the one person who is likely to read this will know that I’m yet living.

Fall. I LOVE Fall! I had several errands to run today and had the pleasure of driving through lanes of trees just getting into their most beautiful colors. Some trees are becoming burnished from the top down, others were flaming in the sunshine. Houses have Halloween decorations up. At the very least, you’re likely to see pumpkins and mums and asters, which are my favorite. I’d like to talk to the chipmunk or squirrel that’s chewing on my pumpkins, though. Little rotters!

I may give sleep another try.


One of the things you face, when not blogging on a daily basis, is the plethora of subjects that you might blog about when you return to that blank screen. Unfortunately, in my case, there are usually dozens of one-liners that pop up, but not as many full blown thoughts. Tonight the subject that has floated to the surface and seems stuck in first place has to do with “snowbirds.”

A few years ago I used to think of snowbirds with distain. They were “elderly” people who fled areas as moderate as northern Illinois (HA!) for the colder months of the year. Some would go for a month, others for the entire period from November to April. I thought, “They’ve been raised here. They know what our winters are like. They should be able to make it through the winter without needing lengthy vacations in the (much warmer) south.” I thought, “Canadians don’t run from a little cold. What’s the big deal?”

Well, I have a great deal more empathy for those “elderly” people these days. I am in my late sixties and I have arthritis, and I could be the local weather girl. This is OCTOBER, for God’s sake! We had one rainy, cool day yesterday and I wanted to stay in bed for the day with an electric blanket. I can’t imagine what it will be like this winter when it is truly cold.

I was conversing via e-mail with my three sisters, and the youngest, who lives in Indiana, was requesting an electric sleeping bag that she could wear when teaching because her classroom was so cold. The oldest one was talking about buying more socks! It’s comforting to know that I am not alone in not looking forward to winter.
Meanwhile, I think I’ll stock up on hand warmers and look for my crocheted sock patterns. I think I’ll take a serious look at a room heater for the basement so that I can continue to quilt without icicles dripping from my nose, and I’ll buy stock in Advil.

Who knows, there might even be an extended road trip south in my future one day, or perhaps a lengthy Caribbean cruise. Just don’t call me a snowbird, though. That would mean I’ve joined the ranks of the elderly. (Sigh)

Network News

For some time we have been bemoaning a trend in network news on TV.  The stations repeatedly tell you what they will be covering. Five, six, seven times they will “tease” you with the news to come.  And when it’s time to report on those subjects, they don’t have time to say more than a sentence, or two if you are lucky.  This is not the journalism I remember from my childhood.  Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and Peter Jennings must be spinning in their graves each time a network news program is aired.

It used to be that “Who,” “What,” “Where,”  and “When” were the absolute minimum in reporting, and we hoped to to know “Why” as well.  Sometimes we also were treated to “How.”  Now, we’re lucky if we get two of these questions answered.  Frequently we are told that someone has been shot, but while they might tell us the corner where the shooting took place, they most likely won’t tell us where the victim was hit, or whether they will survive.

Today must be a very slow news day.  The big news byte is that the shooting in California is now being classified as a terrorist attack.  I think we could conservatively guess that in a five minute period at 4:55 this afternoon, we heard this same comment fifteen to eighteen times on one station.  I’m sure it’s the same on all the others.  Why not do a good job of covering the story in full, and then go on to other news?  Just as I am sick of the commercialization of Christmas, I detest the same thing happening to the news.

Serious reporting has disappeared at such an alarming rate that we are changing to news programs that will give us the deeper story, like the “PBS Newshour” and “Charlie Rose.”  I  rarely go to CNN for news, but I may check them out to see if they are doing a better job than the networks.

And, while I’m at it, it seems that radio news announcers feel that time is money, so they now leave out the little verbs, and report in incomplete sentences.  Stations which used to pride themselves on their presentations feel they have to go with the flow, so there will be a generation of radio listeners who won’t know there is anything wrong with this.

We need a groundswell of complaint, a grass roots movement, to let the stations know WE DON’T LIKE IT!!

November First

November first, at the crack of dawn, we headed out for a two week trip to the south.  The  plan was to drive down to Orlando to spend a few days with our granddaughters and their parents, and then visit New Orleans for  a bit before driving home.

We decided to drive east to Indiana and pick up Interstate 65 and take that south to Mobile.  The first day we drove through Indiana and a good part of Kentucky, stopping at Bowling Green.  The second day we finished the trip through Kentucky,  zipped through Tennessee and slogged through Alabama.

I’ve never made this  particular trip and was amazed at how beautiful Kentucky, Tennessee and northern Alabama are in late fall.  We drove through foothills (of the Smokies, I assume), and early in the day either clouds or fog ringed the tops of the hills.  We had an overcast day, but very little rain, which made the travel quite easy.  There was a brief spate of construction just after I took the wheel in Tennessee, but it didn’t last long.  Dear Husband was delighted to find an exceptional seafood restaurant a block away from our hotel in Mobile.  We opted for just about all the peel and eat shrimp we could eat.  I think I might have had hush puppies, too!

The third day of our trip we headed east out of the very tiny bit of Alabama that fronts on the Gulf of Mexico, into Florida.  The panhandle of Florida goes on FOREVER!!!  The worst part about the panhandle is that every mile looks the the one you just drove, and the one up ahead.  A little variety would be nice.  I think it might have taken us five hours to go from Mobile to Interstate 75, where we turned south.

We drove to Ocala, another place I had never visited.  I researched seafood restaurants in Ocala.  They have every kind of seafood place there:  shops where you walk up to a window to order, fast food chains that feature deep fried fish, nicer restaurants where you are waited on, and a few really classy joints.   We opted for the nicer restaurant, and made our way to the center of town.  Ocala is very people friendly.  We had almost no trouble finding our way around, and had a wonderful dinner at Harry’s.

The fourth day of our trip we were about 90 minutes from Orlando, and had the day to ourselves before we met up with the kids.  We slept in, had a big breakfast and continued south.  When we entered Florida, there was a rest stop that had fliers on just about everything you can do in Florida.  Dear Husband found a flier on a quilt shop on the Atlantic side of the state.  Since we didn’t have any plans, we went fabric shopping. (I know how odd that sounds.)  We bought the fabric for a baby quilt I need to make, and DH found several pre-printed panels that would make absolutely adorable quilts.  Before I singed the credit card  we headed back to Orlando to meet our family

And with that, it’s time for me to hit the hay.  Hopefully, I can give you the shorter version of the rest of our trip when I return.

Great News!

For those of you who have read here recently, I want you to know that my husband is doing very well!  He was in the hospital for a total of eight days.  He had an incredible number of tests done, and he will have a lot of follow-up visits with several doctors, but he is well!  I know…I know….. He is MUCH better than when he went into the hospital.  I think I’ll be able to say he is well before too long.

Dear Husband missed the speeding bullet.  HIs nurse described the mostly clogged artery as “The Widow Maker,” so you know it was serious.  We’re working on lifestyle changes.  This evening we had cod for dinner, with steamed broccoli.  Yes, there was a little bacon, and some cheddar cheese over the cod, but considerably less than there might have been a year ago.

We will be adding exercise to our routine, and checking blood pressure and blood sugars, so we’ll have plenty of feedback.  I hope we will BOTH be healthier as we enter the coming year.

Thank you for your kind messages, and for your positive thoughts and prayers!



Sleep Tests

At long last, I persuaded Dear Husband to do a sleep test, and probably not a moment too soon!  To get him to do it, I had to nag, brow beat, offer to do one, and MAKE THE APPOINTMENTS!!  That’s all water over the damn now.  I’m SO glad we did the tests.

I was sitting back smiling smugly as we listened to the consultant talk about the results, because I knew DH has much more apnea than I do.  BUT, the doc knocked the wind out of my sails when he told me that I have a more serious problem with depleted oxygen levels.  I’ll have to go back to the sleep center for further testing to determine just what kind of equipment I’ll need to use.  I expect to be a new person once we get this straightened out.

Have you done a sleep test?  I do not know how they can realistically expect you to sleep.  First, they wrap two bands around your chest, to help hold equipment in place.  Then they glue 23 leads to you: in the hairline around your face, across the top of your head, on your throat, on the front of your chest just below your shoulders, and also on your lower legs.   Then, they gathered the wires together and helped me into bed.  I’m light sensitive, so I needed to turn away from where the equipment plugged in .  I was surprised to find that I could turn over.

It took me 47 minutes to fall asleep, where it normally takes me five.  I woke when the nurse came in to reattach something, but went right back to sleep.  Then, at 3:00, she came in once more to add something that delivered oxygen.  They tell me I went back to sleep, but it took a while.  At 6:00 they woke us.  We dressed and headed for home to clean up.  We could have showered there, but preferred to travel light and shower at home.

I’m not thrilled to be going back, but the pay-off will be huge.  We will have energy and be able to accomplish so much more each day.   We can expect our health in general to improve, and we should have more years together.

Win-Win wouldn’t you say??  🙂