It’s Christmas Letter Time! Part I

November 30, 2009


I love to write … am never at a loss for words.  Until, I start to write a Christmas letter.  Then, sometimes I just have a mental block.  I can’t think of what to say.  So, when that happens the less “wordy” writer in the family, Hubby, steps in.  He write a first draft, and then I finish it off from there.  Teamwork at its best!

I wrote the following ideas about Christmas Letters two years ago, so I thought I’d share it again.

A Christmas Letter — To Do or Not To Do — That Is The Question!

It is the time of year when we have to start thinking about any Christmas preparations that take long-range planning.  (Make the Springerle’s NOW!!)

One of the first things that I always do is write a Christmas letter and update my Christmas card list.  I send the letter to friends and family we don’t see often (who generally live out of town), and Christmas cards to friends and family who already know all the stuff in the Christmas letter and to in-town acquaintances.

I have a mental template for our  yearly Christmas letter that I adhere to pretty closely:  A welcoming of the reason for the season, a couple paragraphs about what Hubby and I are doing, a couple paragraphs about Gunny and his family, a couple paragraphs about DD and her family, and a closing that honors Christ’s birth.

I work very hard to keep the letter to one page (one-side).  I add a handwritten note on each one I send that is specific to that person/family.

Now, to me, this is a pretty good way to keep in touch, especially with people we only hear from this one time of year.  We receive many Christmas letters in return, some that have obviously been written just as a reply to OUR letter, but that’s all right, because the whole point is to just do a little re-connecting.  And, if the letter they receive from us makes them want to let us know what THEY are doing — perfect!!

I never know what to think when I hear people rant about how awful they consider Christmas letters.  The objections I hear are that they are too long and they are “braggy”.   Well, would they rather not hear from that family at all?  As I said earlier, sometimes a Christmas letter is the ONLY time you hear from someone.  I have to admit that if one we receive is realllly long, I do sometimes read just the beginning of each paragraph, unless something just catches my interest, but I’m STILL glad that I heard from that family!  Just from skimming the letter I know alot more about what is going on with them than I would if I DIDN’T get the letter!

As for bragging — in my mind — bragging is window dressing.  The person has taken the things that have happened in their lives and shared only the highlights and presented those in a really “dressed up” way, but if you can make yourself look past the bragging, you are still getting information that tells you what is going on with them!

So, in conclusion, as I’m sure you have already figured out — I am ALL FOR Christmas letters.  I love getting them, even the lonnnnng ones and the “braggy” ones, because I’m glad they thought of us and wanted to stay in touch with us.

May any Christmas letter you receive be seen as a little “gift” from the sender — some more “pleasingly wrapped” than others, but all “gifts.”

Tomorrow:  It’s Christmas Letter Time! Part II

A Christmas Parable

November 29, 2009
The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve.  He hadn’t been anywhere on Christmas Eve in years, since his wife had passed away.  It and Christmas Day were just like any day to him.  He didn’t hate Christmas, he just couldn’t find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.                
Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. “Thank you, but I don’t mean to intrude,” said the stranger “If you’re busy, I’ll just go.” “Not without something hot in your belly.” George said.  He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. “It ain’t fancy, but it’s hot and tasty.  Stew … made it myself.  When you’re done, there’s coffee and it’s fresh.”                     

Just at that moment he heard the “ding” of the driveway bell.  “Excuse me, be right back,” George said. There in the driveway was an old ’53 Chevy.  Steam was rolling out of the front.  The driver was panicked. “Mister can you help me!” said the driver, with a deep accent.  “My car quit and my wife is having baby any minute.”                     

George opened the hood.  It was bad.  The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead.  “You ain’t going anywhere in this thing.  Wait here.” George said as he turned away.                     

“But Mister, please help …”  The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside.  He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside.  He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting.  “Here, take my truck,” he said.  “She ain’t the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good.”                     

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night.  He turned and walked back inside the office.  “Glad I gave ’em the truck, their tires were shot too. That ‘ol truck has brand new . . .”  George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man was gone. The thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it.  Well, at least he got something hot in his belly, George thought.                     

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start.  It cranked slowly, but it started.  He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been.  He thought he would tinker with it for something to do.  Christmas Eve meant no customers.  He discovered that the block hadn’t cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator.  “Well, shoot, I can fix this,” he said to himself.  So he put a new hose on.                   

Those tires ain’t gonna get ’em through the winter either.  He took the snow treads off of his wife’s old Lincoln.  They were like new and he wasn’t going to drive the car anyway.                     

As he was working, he heard shots being fired.  He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground.  Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, “Please help me.”                     

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic.  He knew the wound needed attention.   Pressure to stop the bleeding, he thought.  The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels.  He used those and duct tape to bind the wound.  “Hey, they say duct tape can fix anything,” he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.                     

Something for pain, George thought.  All he had were the pills he used for his back.  These ought to work.  He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills.  “You hang in there, I’m going to get you an ambulance.”                     

The phone was dead. “Maybe I can get one of your buddies on your car radio.” He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.                    

He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. “Thanks,” said the officer. “You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area.”                     

George sat down beside him, “I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I wasn’t going to leave you.”  George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding.  “Looks worse than what it is.  Bullet went all the way through.  Good thing it missed the important stuff though.  I think with time you’re gonna be right as rain.”                     

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. “How do you take it?” he asked.   “None for me,” said the officer. “Oh, your gonna wanna drink this.  Best in the city.  Too bad I ain’t got no donuts.”  The officer laughed and winced at the same time.                     

The front door of the office flew open and in burst a young man with a gun.  “Give me all your cash! Do it now!” the young man yelled.  His hand was shaking and George thought he looked like he’d never done anything like this before.                     

“That’s the guy that shot me!” exclaimed the officer.                     

“Son, why are you doing this?” asked George, “You need to put that cannon away.  Somebody else might get hurt.”                    

 The young man was confused. “Shut up old man, or I’ll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!”               

The cop started to reach for his gun. “Wait,” George said to the cop.                     

He turned his attention to the young man. “Son, it’s Christmas Eve.  If you need money, well then, here.  It ain’t much but it’s all I got. Now put that pee shooter away. ”                     

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry.  “I’m not very good at this, am I.  All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son,” he went on. “I’ve lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week .”                     

George handed the gun to the cop. “Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can.”                     

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop.  “Sometimes we do stupid things.” George handed the young man a cup of coffee. “Bein’ stupid is one of the things that makes us human.  Comin’ in here with a gun ain’t the answer.  Now sit there and get warm and we’ll sort this thing out.”                     

The young man had stopped crying. With deep regret on his face, he looked over at the cop. “I’m so sorry I shot you. The gun just went off.  I’m sorry.”                     

“Shut up and drink your coffee.” the cop said.                     

Sirens could be heard approaching, and then the sound of a car skidding to a halt out front. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. “Chuck! You ok?” one of the cops asked the wounded officer.                     

“Not bad for a guy who took a bullet.  Glad you figured out I needed help.”                     

“When you didn’t respond to a location check, Dispatch sent us. Who did this?” the other cop asked as he approached, looking at the young man with interest.                     

Chuck answered him, “I don’t know. The guy ran off into the dark.  Just dropped his gun and ran.”                

George and the young man looked puzzled at each other.                     

“That guy work here?” the wounded cop asked George, as he looked him directly in the eye.  George understood.  “Yep,” George said, “just hired him this morning.  Boy lost his job.”                     

The EMS that had been called arrived and the paramedics loaded Chuck onto a stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, “Why?”                     

Chuck just said, “Merry Christmas boy … and you too, George, and thanks for everything .”                     

After the others had left, George said to the boy, “Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems.”                  

Then he went into the back room and came out with a box.  He pulled a ring box out of it.  “Here you go, something for the little woman.  I don’t think Martha would mind.  She said it would come in handy some day.”                     

The young man looked inside to see a ring. “I can’t take this,” said the young man. “It means something to you.”                  

“And now it means something to you,” replied George. “I got my memories. That’s all I need.”                 

George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell.  “Here’s something for your little guy too.”                     

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.                     

“And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too,” George said, “Now get home to your family.”                    

 The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. “I’ll be here in the morning to work, if that job offer is for real.”                     

“Nope. I’m closed Christmas day,” George said. “See ya the day after.”                     

As the door closed behind the boy, George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. “Where’d you come from? I thought you left?”                     

“I have been here. I have always been here,” said the stranger. “You say you don’t celebrate Christmas. Why?”                     

“Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn’t see what all the bother was.  Puttin’ up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin’ cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn’t the same by myself and besides I was gettin’ a little chubby.”                     

The stranger put his hand on George’s shoulder. “But you do celebrate the holiday, George.                   

“You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry.                   

“The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.                   

“The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists.                   

“The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and will be like a son to you for the rest of your life. 

“That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as well as any man.”                     

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said.  “And you know all this, how?” asked the old man.                     

“Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again.”                     

The stranger moved toward the door. “If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned.”                     

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.                     

“You see, George … it’s My birthday. Merry Christmas.”                     

George fell to his knees and replied, “Happy Birthday, Lord.”                   

Author Unknown

Mama Remembered: Being War Chairman of the PTA

November 27, 2009


Mama was very active in the Parent/Teacher Association when my older sisters and brother were in grade school.  It was during World War II and the PTA made Mama War Chairman for the school.

Mama about this time.

An excerpt from Mama’s book, I Remember:

I was War Chairman in 1943, 1944 and 1945, we sold War Bonds in our district.  I organized our workers and gave them their instructions and routes.  They turned their money and applications in to me and I took them down to Bond Headquarters on Minnesota Avenue.  I have carried as high as $3,500 in a brown envelope on the street car down to headquarters.  No one ever bothered me.

While I was out selling bonds one day, an elderly couple bought a $25 bond from me and paid me for it with $18.75 in pennies.  You should have seen Ruhl and me down on the floor that evening, counting and rolling pennies so I could turn them in the next morning!


Another job of the War Chairman was to collect grease.  I don’t remember what it was for, but I had a grease committee, two girls and two boys.  People were asked to save all grease, like bacon grease or fat off meat (rendered out) and send it to school by their children; or, if they didn’t have children in school, they could call and my grease committee would pick it up.

Tuesday was grease day at the school so I would go there at 8:30 in the morning.  My committee collected the cans and jars of grease that had been brought in from each room and brought it to me.  I weighed it and gave each room credit for the amount they had collected.  Then later in the morning a truck picked it up.

Another of my jobs as War Chairman was to head the Red Cross group, a group of ladies who met one day a week to make afghans for the veterans in the hospitals.  We made them of wool scraps, cut in 3 1/2 in. squares, crocheted around with yarn and then sewed together to make a large afghan.  The PTA gave me money to buy the yarn.  I went to the clothing factories and asked them for their wool scraps.  When I told them what it was for, they loaded me down with scraps.  I would cut the squares at home, pack them in a suitcase and take them down to the school.  If I remember right we met Thursday afternoon.  We would spend a couple hours cutting , crocheting and talking about the designs.  The ladies (there were usually 8 to 12 of them) also took ones home to crochet around.

   Mama and her Red Cross Committee sewing in the school kitchen.

   Mama (third from left in front row) and her Red Cross group  with one of the afghans they made.

I would take the completed  squares home and lay them out on the floor to plan a design, then I would pick them up in rows.  The next time we met, we would sew them together in that order.  Some of our afghans were beautiful.  We always hung them around the room on PTA day.  Then we gave them to the Navy or Army Mothers to be taken to the hospitals.  We felt like we were helping.


Even though Mama says here that she doesn’t remember what the grease was used for, I am sure that she, or someone else, told me that it was used as lubricant on the  moving parts of equipment, including planes, used in the war.  Hard to picture mechanics taking out some mother’s leftover bacon grease to grease “under the hood” of an airplane, isn’t it?  Do you suppose the pilot sometimes got a whiff that reminded him of breakfast?!

When I was growing up (I was born the year after the war was over, 1946), my parents and older siblings had great stories like this to tell that I always loved hearing and thought showed how patriotic everyone felt during that war.

May we all support our troops in whatever way we can during this current war.  Patriotic little kids may never come by to collect our bacon grease, but there is always one thing we can do … pray. 



A Thanksgiving Poem

November 26, 2009


 May your stuffing be tasty.

May your turkey be plump.

May your potatoes and gravy

have nary a lump.  

May your yams be delicious,

and your pies take the prize.

And may your Thanksgiving dinner

stay off of your thighs!  Anon 

May your Thanksgiving Day be wonderful and may you have a few quiet minutes amid all the activity to remember all the ways God has blessed you.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


Guiltless Pumpkin Pie

November 25, 2009



I love pumpkin pie, but I also hate gaining weight, which is so easy to do at this time of the year.

So, I have adjusted a crustless pumpkin pie recipe (by adding more spices) to fit my taste. 

A sixth of this pie, a very generous piece, is 1 WW point!  Two tablespoons of Lite Cool Whip on top is another point.  A 2 point dessert is wonderful, especially if it feels “substantial” like this does, and I like the taste!

So, here is my version of crustless pumpkin pie, which is a little spicier (like Mama’s was) than the other recipes I’ve seen.  I hope you enjoy it.

Guiltless Pumpkin Pie


1 1/4 C. granulated Splenda (the one in a big yellow bag that replaces sugar, cup for cup)

3 T. all-purpose flour

3/4 C. Egg Beaters (the equivalent of three eggs)

15 oz. can pumpkin (not pie filling)

can of fat-free evaporated milk

1 t. of each — vanilla .. salt .. ginger .. nutmeg .. allspice

2 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. ground cloves (well, it is MY recipe, so I guess I can second guess myself — I have decided I will only use 1/4 t. cloves)

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the Splenda and flour.  Add egg beaters and mix well. 

Stir in the pumpkin, milk, vanilla and spices.  Mix until well blended.  Pour into a greased 9-in. pie plate. 

Place pie plate in a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan.*  Fill pan around pie plate with 1/2 in. of hot water (not boiling). 

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

*Sandra’s note:  I’m not sure how much difference it makes about the size of the metal pan, as long as the pie plate fits in it and it is filled with 1/2 in. of hot water.  The pan I used was a half-size jelly roll pan with not quite the same measurements.


Don’t forget to comment on my post on Tuesday about Sarah Palin, if you’d like to have a chance to win a signed copy of her book.

Sarah Palin Came to Town!

November 24, 2009


(If you’re wondering why this wasn’t posted yesterday, it’s because it took me forever to add in the pictures — not because I was crafting the commentary to perfection!)


I don’t know if I will vote for Sarah Palin if she runs for president.  There are lots of factors that would figure into that decision.

But, I am a fan of hers as a person just because she seems to be a down-to-earth woman who appears to handle things that happen in her life in the same common sense, ethical way people I know and admire would.

So, while I found it intriguing that she was coming to town and that she would be signing books at the super store that I shop at almost every day, I didn’t really think I wanted to fight the crowds to try to get her autograph.

On the day of her book signing, Hubby and I were going to go to the gym early.  But, I also needed to go to the grocery store.  So, after I got ready to go to the gym, I told Hubby I wanted to run to the grocery first, before it got crazy around noon when Sarah would be there.

But then a funny thing happened as I was gathering things to take to the grocery with me, hoodie, purse, cloth bags . . . umbrella . . . umbrella chair . . . another coat . . . extra battery for my camera!  Hey, wait a minute.  Somewhere deep in the back of my mind, I must have been thinking about maybe getting in line to get her autograph when I got there.  (Sometimes your sub-conscious can really surprise you!)

So I, in turn, surprised Hubby by telling him I was thinking about staying, depending on how long the line was, and what my prospects would be to actually get an autograph.  I would call him if I stayed.

When I got there I found out several things in quick succession — the line was inside the warm, well-lit store (much of it cleverly wound through the Christmas decorating aisles), not out in the cold, dark parking lot as I had expected; there were a little over 200 people already in line (she was promising to sign books for 1,000 people) so I would be sure to get my book signed; and no chairs were allowed (rats).  It was all very calm and orderly — not at all chaotic as I had imagined.

So, I took my chair back to the car and then got in line.  It was 6:30 a.m.  She would start signing books at noon and would continue until 3 p.m. or when she had signed for 1,000 people (you were allowed to have two books apiece).

    One of the pluses for the store was that you had to have a receipt for each book to be signed that showed it had been purchased at that store.

     I was very impressed with how organized the store was about handling over 1,000 people.

   As I followed the arrows to the end of the line, this was how a typical already-filled aisle looked.  It looks like these people had figured out what my new friend John, who was in the Stationery aisle with me said, “Don’t bunch up, it will be cooler.” 

   When I noticed this aisle as I passed and stopped to take their picture, I told them that I wanted a picture of the “smart” aisle because they were the first ones I saw who had “made themselves at home” and sat down.  The other aisles, including those of us in Stationery, soon got smarter too and followed suit.

   By the way, I’m glad I got there when I did, because after the allotted space in the store was full, the line continued out into the garden shop.  Still under cover, but much less comfortable.  I bet they drank alot more of that hot coffee that is being served on the lower right than those of us in the store did.

   Inside, we had the opposite problem — it got a little warm and stuffy.  So, we were delighted when this man who is running for congress came down the aisle passing out half-sheet size cardboard flyers asking for our support.  I don’t know if we’ll vote for him, but I know we sure appreciated his hand-out.  It made a perfect fan!

     What a wonderful group of people I fell in with in the Stationery aisle! We talked and laughed, and heckled employees who repeatedly came to get masking tape or felt tips or poster board for signs.  The time passed quickly.

   June and Deb came together.  June runs a dog obedience school and Deb is a very successful show-er (I had to hyphenate that because otherwise you might think she showered show dogs to get them clean before an event!) of Yorkshire Terriers.  That pendant Deb’s wearing is an award for success in dog showing.  June told me that Deb is the only person in this area (maybe in this state?) who has that very coveted award for people who show dogs.

   New friends Laura and Deb.  I was sitting closest to the two of them, so I chatted with them the most.

   John had driven over two hours to get there and was a very well read, interesting man who sat next to us.  He told me how and why the Federal Reserve Bank (which I didn’t know is not part of the federal government) and the Internal Revenue Service were started.  But when he got into too much detail, I had to tell him that I’m ADD and couldn’t absorb all that detail without zoning out, so he gave me just an overview.  I’m not sure but Laura may be ADD too, because in this picture she looks like she may have zoned out from too much detail also.  But, seriously, John was very nice and seemed to understand to “wrap it up” when we began suffering from information overload.

   On one of our several trips to the restroom (sometimes just for a chance to stretch our legs from sitting on the floor rather than from necessity), we met the first woman in line!  She had missed the book signing in Grand Rapids the day before so had driven down here.  She had been there 14 hours! 

   This was a reporter from Entertainment Tonight.  I’m told the man she was interviewing was the organizer of the tea parties in this area.

   A reporter from Inside Edition was there too. 

   He realllly wanted to interview Laura.  He asked her twice.  But each time, my new friend insisted that she didn’t want to do it — that he should interview her — pointing at me.  Hmmm. I guess she’d already figured out that, like our friend John, I’m hardly ever at a loss for words.

   So, the reporter interviewed me (with Laura standing behind me — for moral support, I’m sure.)  I have no idea if my sound bite made it on the air, but I’m guessing not, because he reallly wanted to interview Laura!

  When I first saw this little girl as she was just quietly staring at these two little foil Christmas trees.  It looked like she might be dreaming about what would be under her Christmas tree.  But, before I could get the picture she discovered me.  Even though I didn’t get the shot I wanted, I still love her sweet little face.

   At 10 o’clock they came down the aisles checking your receipt, telling you to have your book open to the page where she would sign, and putting on wristbands.  The store really did do everything they could to let  people know for sure whether they were going to get to meet her or not.  Unfortunately, there was apparently a difference in the count (I think because of some  dignataries who were inserted at the front of the line at the last minute) between the number of wristbands and the count being done by Sarah’s staff person as people went in to meet her.  One of my sisters-in-law told me that she knew a woman who was right at the end of the 1,000 but thought she was safe, and ended up not being within the 1,000.  I hope that Sarah signed a few more than the 1,000, but then when do you stop?  A dilemma for her people who try to keep her on schedule, I’m sure.

   The store had employees circulating up and down the aisles with coffee, water and cookies often.

   At noon the line stood up and started moving.

   There were lots of media people  and their equipment.

   When Sarah got there she stood at a table inside this blue enclosure.  The line went in at the other end and came out on this end.  Before we went in, we had to put anything we were carrying , except books to be signed, on the table you can see in front of the enclosure.  Then there were people standing behind the table moving things down the table so that when you came out this end, your stuff was at this end ready to be picked up!  Low tech, but very efficient.

No pictures were allowed inside (a problem taken care of since our cameras would have been in the “stuff” we had to lay on the table outside). 

When I arrived in front of Sarah, after she signed my book, she smiled and shook my hand while looking me directly in the eye.  I liked that.  I told her I wondered what she thought of Dennis Miller’s proposed 7-year plan for her that I had heard him talk about on Fox News that morning (i.e., allow herself to be drafted as the Independent candidate in 3 years, even though she probably wouldn’t win, and then run again four years later, and have a chance of being the first Independent candidate to be elected president), but she said she hadn’t heard it.  I didn’t think I should take the time to explain it to her, so I just said, “I’m sure he’ll tell you all about it when you’re on his show tomorrow”.  She said she was going to go on the internet and see what he was suggesting ahead of time.  I’m sure some of her experience with media last year has made her want to be verrrry prepared now, even when it is sympathetic media.

  While we were standing in line close to getting in to see her, a woman walked up to Laura and handed her this post card that shows a crop drawing of Sarah on a farm in Ohio.  The woman said she wasn’t going to get in so she asked Laura to give it to Sarah.  I asked Laura afterwards what Sarah said when she gave it to her.  She said she took it and thanked her for it, but she said she had already seen it.  In the picture here it’s a little easier to read the words.  I’m pretty sure it says Sarah America.  

  And, finally, you’ll just have to take my word for it that that is her signature.  But, when you consider how many thousands of books she’s signing a day right now, I give her lots of credit for it looking this good!

So, now for both of you who have read this epistle all the way to the end,  I am going to give away this signed copy of Sarah’s book.  Just leave a comment and when I get up early on Saturday, December 5, I’ll draw the winner!

This was fun and I’m glad I did it.  It will be interesting to watch how Sarah Palin’s career plays out. 

By the way, Hubby pointed out that if she becomes President someday, this book might  increase in value.  So, why invest in gold … when you can just leave a comment here, and win this book!

In the twinkling of an eye …

November 20, 2009



… your baby turns 40!

   Every mother wants to have at least one picture of their daughter with a sumo wrestler, no?

(Readers. is it just me or does 40 look alot younger than it used to?  I know it’s hard to judge, isn’t it, because your eye just keeps being drawn back to that verry interesting guy beside her!)  I’m pretty sure this was taken at the conference she recently attended in San Francisco.

It has always been fun and interesting being your mother, daughter of mine.  Thank you for adding to my life immeasurably.

Happy Birthday, Babe. 

Love, Mom and Dad

Readers, we are going to Chicago for the weekend to help DD celebrate her birthday.  So, no posts for the next two days.  But on Monday I’ll be posting about an interesting event I attended yesterday and it will include a prize you can win.  See you then!

Photography with an old friend!

November 19, 2009


Remember when I dropped my Panasonic Lumix camera in August?  Well, it has finally been repaired and returned from the factory good as new.  I’m thrilled.  My Kodak Easy Share did its best to fill in, but it just wasn’t the same.

The main reason I missed my Lumix is that it fits in my purse so that I can take it with me whereever I go.  But, I also like its editing software better.

So, here are some pictures that I took with my prodigal camera and then enjoyed editing:


   I can’t tell you how many times I have admired the view across the lake through early morning fog, but I’ve really had trouble capturing the “feel” of it with the camera.  This is the best one I’ve gotten so far.  I think that’s because I finally figured out to do it in gray tones.


   I like this berry picture …

   … but I love these variations.


     A nearby street light in early morning fog.      A closer look.


    Kind of an Asian feel?


    I took this out the car window on the way to church around 8 o’clock in the morning.  I almost deleted it, before it occurred to me that if I would crop it to just that little corner of filtered sunlight and fields, I might have something …

   … and I really liked the result.


Welcome back, old friend.  I’ve missed you.

Mama Remembered: Ringside Seats!

November 18, 2009



 An excerpt from Mama’s book I Remember:

When we lived in Springfield, every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving there was a Christmas parade.  We lived just a block from the street it always went down, and Sandy always looked forward to it.  The last couple of years we lived in Springfield, she and her friend Phoebe Ann carried step ladders (Sandra’s note: really our dads carried them) over to the parade route and sat up on them so they could watch the parade over people’s heads.  It was always a great parade.

This picture brings several thoughts to mind. 

~ I wonder if our ladders were annoying to other parade watchers.  From the looks of the picture, either we got there really early, or most of the watchers were standing on the other side of the cars, in the street.  I think I remember that that was typical.  That was probably a sign of how much smaller parades were then.  People could stand in the street, along both sides, and the parade could still get through.  (I also remember that the street the parade was on was a main street and wider than most.)  Anyway, I don’t have any memories of people being clustered around the bottom of the ladders. 

~You’ll notice Mama was there to take a picture so I’m guessing when she wasn’t standing back to take a picture, she was standing right there between our ladders “in case we fell”.  Like little her was going to catch us! 

~I wonder if it bugged Phoebe Ann that my ladder was taller than hers.  I think it would have probably bugged me, if  the situation was reversed. 

~We seldom wore pants.  I can see my bare leg, so I’m sure we had dresses on under our coats.  But it looks like I have my hands in my pockets so it must have been cold.

~And, finally, I wonder if the true reason we moved to Indiana was because Daddy was offered a new job or if he was really just looking for a way to “get out ‘a Dodge” because he was tired of “helping” me haul that ol’ step ladder over to the parade route!

I do remember looking forward to those long-ago parades, even before we started having “ringside seats”.  

Another fond memory Mama’s book recalled for me.

Rainy Day Ham and Bean Soup

November 17, 2009


A couple days ago we were having absolutely beautiful, warm weather, but yesterday it was chilly and rainy, reminding us that after all it is mid-November and we shouldn’t expect too much of that.   

And in my mind, a rainy November day calls for comfort food.  So, I got out the jar of great northern beans I always keep in the cupboard and a package of diced ham I always keep in the freezer, and made our favorite ham and bean soup.  And, as we were eating it, I decided you might like it too.  So, here’s the recipe:

Easy Ham and Bean Soup

  You’ll notice the jar of beans and the package of ham are empty.  In a perfect world I would have thought about sharing this recipe before I had actually made the soup!  (I had to get the ham wrapper out of the trash and the bean jar isn’t actually empty because it already has the leftover soup in it, ready to go in the fridge.)

Combine in a large stove top pan (you know, larger than a sauce pan, smaller than a dutch oven):

48 oz. jar of great northern beans

8 oz. package of diced ham  (it’s 96% fat free – how the heck do they do that, use skinny pigs?)

can of 96% fat free chicken broth (skinny chickens?)

a half cup of diced onion

a couple glubs of olive oil

hot sauce to taste

Bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium or medium low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Use a potato masher to mash up some of the beans to make the soup thicker.

 At the table we add salt, pepper and vinegar (from the same cruet Mama used for the vinegar when she served bean soup).

Easy and soooo good.  Perfect.

p.s.  If bean soup gives you “gastronomic distress”, there’s a fix for that.