Archive | December, 2016


30 Dec

Austin was admitted to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia yesterday afternoon. He had not, at the time he was admitted, had anything to eat for seven hours (he is a not-quite-three months old) and was not interested in eating.  Obviously, both of his parents are with him.

The doctors had done a sonogram and requested the original films from Hopkins for comparison. They have put him on IVs to build him up, and he will be needing another surgery in the near future.

Watch and pray.

O Tannenbaum

29 Dec

As I drive around our neighbourhood there are still signs out announcing that this place or that is selling Christmas Trees.

I think they cater to the Late and Unlamented.

The easiest way to get that man to refuse to do anything was to tell him you thought it was a good idea. I swear, he’d have quit breathing if I had just told him to keep going. He was the personification of the old joke:”I’ll do it. You don’t have to keep reminding me every six months.”

One year he decided he was going to cut a tree rather than purchase one, and walked away from the house carrying an axe. If you stood in our yard and looked in every direction there was nothing but deciduous trees – not an evergreen in sight. I don’t know who he thought he was kidding.

When I left for church with the girls on Christmas Eve we still did not have a tree, but there was one in the living room when we returned.

He’d gone out after we left and stolen one from a lot someplace!


And Again

28 Dec

Local Daughter contacted us this afternoon to say Austin was on his way back to the hospital. He was doing well on Christmas Day, but was running a fever yesterday, and when they took him to the doctor this morning he had lost weight again.

The doctors are talking about inserting “a tube”. Not sure if they mean a via his nose, something into his stomach, or a stent between his stomach and his intestine.

I feel so sorry for all of them – Austin, his mum and dad…this is just so disheartening.

We are very, very fortunate that the military allowed our grandson to come home, and that he has not yet had to return to his regular occupation.


Merry Christmas

27 Dec

True to form, Resurrection was in full disorganized religion mode on the 24th.  The folks listed in the bulletin to serve as readers and ushers were not the ones who were actually scheduled, and our supply was so late – she lives in Hagerstown, and traffic was unbelieveable – that we were discussing whether or not I should just go ahead and do Evening Prayer.

Fortunately, Rev. B came scurrying up the sidewalk with seconds to spare, and all was well. (We had a situation several weeks ago when the supply neither showed nor called, and we had to do Morning Prayer at the last minute.)

We’ve been using a powerpoint system for the last year or so, as a convenience for people who weren’t born with enough arms to juggle a hymnal and a BCP – which is most of us! About halfway through the service, the computer died, and we were left going “by the book”. We started off doing Rite I, and then switched to Rite II after the Offertory. Prayer C, to make it even more interesting.

We do not have services on Christmas Day. The concensus is that not even our rowdy group could get into enough trouble overnight to need the extra service. The last time we had a Christmas Day mass was about fifteen years ago, when the entire congregation consisted of the rector, the organist, her husband, and her parents – who did not speak English.

Eldest Daughter and her family came down around noon on Christmas Day to give us a gift. We had told them not to get us anything, but she said “they’d had a good year” and wanted to give us something anyway.

A fifty-inch flat screen TV! The Squire is in seventh heaven!

We zipped over to the grocery store last night, but other than that we stayed put. The day after Christmas is, if anything,  worse than the day after Thanksgiving when it comes to malls and shops, and we avoid that sort of aggravation whenever possible. We needed birdseed, and I’m working this week, so I wanted to get some peanut butter crackers to keep in the desk. Just as well I did, as The Squire packed my breakfast and I left it home.

That’s gratitude for ya!


Poor George Braun

21 Dec

I have just finished Trevor Noah’s autobiography, Born a Crime. He tells of growing up in South Africa during apartheid, when relations between his Swiss/German father and his “native” mother were illegal, and punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years.  It is a moving and often funny book, and I recommend it.

Until about fifteen years ago, we drank nothing but farm milk at home. Obviously, when I was away at school, this wasn’t possible, but my grandmother’s neighbour had a cow, and when the Burkheimers moved away, we started buying our milk from an elderly couple, Mr. and Mrs. Braun. After I was married, we bought our milk from a lady up the road from us. When Maryland cracked down on it, we drove up to Pennsylvania to purchase milk from an Amish farmer.

The Brauns were old. Not just I’m-sixteen-and-you’re-ancient type of old, but they were probably in their nineties at the time. Mrs. Braun once told us about her beau, who had gone off with a sheriff’s posse to capture a robber. “Before he got on his horse, he grabbed me and kissed me, because we were going to get married, and it was wonderful.”  That was the only kiss he ever gave her. He did not return from that ride.

Anyway, Mr. Braun was a man of simple, and unreachable, bigotry. He firmly believed there were no good black people (although he didn’t used that word) and they were all going straight to Hell. When I pointed out that there were orders of black Roman Catholic nuns, so they, at least would go to Heaven, he stopped me cold.

“Nope. They are only hoping they’ll get in, but they won’t. None of them will. They’re all bad, bad, bad people.”

My mum signaled me to drop the subject, and when we got in the car, she chuckled. “He’s going to be in for a big surprise when he gets to Heaven and finds out God is black, too.”

Poor George!

Oh, My Aching Back!

19 Dec

Or, you can’t fix stupid.

Many years ago a fellow I’d dated when I was between husbands gave The Squire and me a papyrus plant. He’d been keeping it in his living room and watering it every day, but it really wasn’t thriving, so he brought it to the Rice Paddy so it could live in our pond. It grew to absolutely massive proportions, and had to be repotted once, and then split. It is about ready to be split again.

The one drawback was that the plant has to be kept above 55-F and needed lots of sun. We kept it in the living room during the winter, but that really isn’t what you’d call sunny, so by spring it looks pretty dismal. This winter, rather than allow it to fade away, we decided to move it from the house to the front porch, aka the Sun Room, during the day and bring it back in every evening.

The Squire estimates the plant weighs at least forty-five pounds.

Guess who has a bad back and decided not to “bother” her husband last week to haul the pot in and out? Yup.

My back was bothering me a bit on Saturday, but yesterday I could barely move. It was BAD. To make it the cheese more binding, I was supposed to be the chalicist yesterday. Fortunately I was able to sweet-talk another lady into switching with me.

I found some “dynamite” pain pills left over from my neck surgery last year and took one when we got home from church and another last night before bed, and I think I just might live. Not only live, but it may actually be worth the trouble!

Grandson and his wife took the baby to the doctor today; Austin has gained three ounces, but she has made an appointment with a specialist and they will see him tomorrow.

Film at eleven.


Watch Your Step!

17 Dec

We woke up this morning to find the entire world encased in ice. The Squire took these shots when he went out to get the paper and mail: one is a tree right outside the den window, and the other is a picture of the pond, looking toward the road. As you can see, even though it is mid-December, the grass is still fairly green.

When I filled the various bird feeders, they were all wrapped in solid sheets of ice, and I had a dickens of a time getting them off the post. Then I had to bang on this one with a stick to loosen the lid so I could unscrew it.

Ice feeder.JPGI know the ice is dangerous and all that, but it certainly is lovely.

The Squire had to take the car out to the mailbox, as it was too icy for him to walk. Normally, going after the ail-may is Blazer’s favorite part of the day, but not this time. He’d have pulled The Squire off his feet!

And, yes, we have taken to speaking Pig Latin around the og-day, but he has begun to understand what we are saying. Too smart for his own good, that one!

Oh, Baby!

14 Dec

Since his birth two months ago, our newest great-grandson has had more than his share of problems – and so have his parents!

He was a very big boy – almost nine pounds – but didn’t seem to gain weight the way newborns should.  It turned out he had pyloric stenosis, and had surgery when he was barely a month old. His mum, our granddaughter-in-love, had to take him back to the hospital on Monday morning because he was throwing up non-stop again. They kept him overnight, and sent him home this morning. They don’t seem to be sure if his problem is a recurrence of the stenosis or some sort of gastric upset. The doctors are understandably reluctant to operate again on a new born. At any rate, he lost seven ounces while he was in the hospital.

And that’s a lot for a little baby.

So now, he has medicine to take – infant Prilosec, I suppose – and his poor mum has to feed him every two hours and take him back to the pediatrician every other day to see if he is gaining, losing, or just holding his own. When the poor girl will get any sleep is another matter, but various family members are taking shifts to see that she gets some sleep. To make life even more “interesting”, our grandson is in the military, far, far away.

Hid name is Austin, and prayers are appreciated.

UPDATE: 7:20 PM – Eldest Daughter just called to say the baby’s father just got home. The military sent him back a month early!


Bang, Bang!

12 Dec

The Open House yesterday afternoon went very well.  We had a good crowd passing through – all of them old friends, but quite a few of them had never been here before. My nephew and his family came up from Severn, which was really nice, as we haven’t seen them for a while. I completely dropped the ball on providing something for their two little boys to do, though. We haven’t had children under the age of seven for eons!  I did move things around so they could play with one of my dollhouses, and they were really, really careful with it. Their daughter is eighteen months old, and she and Blazer had a “hmm, what is this” going for a while. Both of them interested, but wary. The dog is very gentle, but his tail can do a lot of unintended damage!

Needless to say, by the end of the evening, The Squire and I were both completely wiped out and collapsed into bed fairly early. Around three in the morning we were jolted out of a sound sleep by two VERY loud bangs. I had opened the bedroom window, but had forgotten to brace the sash with a stick we keep in the sill for exactly that purpose. First the inner window fell down and then the outer frame joined it. Boy! Talk about being lifted right out of bed!

This morning I was playing pick up in the living room when something very large crashed into the sliding door on the front porch. I looked out the window and saw a red-tailed hawk perched in the tree beside the house, so I opened the door to survey the damages. The hawk immediately flew away, and didn’t have anything in his talons. When I stepped outside I could hear some squirrel-sized curses wafting up from the drain beside the flower bed. A few moments later, said squirrel popped out the other end, still muttering under his breath.

Obviously, the hawk had swooped down for lunch but the squirrel had ducked out of the way too quickly for the bird to change course. Gives an entirely new meaning to the expression  “hit with a fowl ball”.

Oh! Does anybody want some cookies? We have loads left over!

Those Cookies

10 Dec

I’ve been baking all week, and The Squire and I have been in and out of various grocery stores, collecting stuff for tomorrow. Canapés, cheeses, crackers, nuts, you name it.

And until Tigger asked about those cookies I’d completely forgotten about them. These are my “signature” treats, and whenever I’m asked to bring something, this is what folks expect. I got the recipe from Cooks Magazine, and it is a standby.

Raspberry Streusel Bars – these can be kept for up to three days, but generally disappear before then.

2- 1/2 cups flour

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces


2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped pecans


3/4 cup raspberry preserves

3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375-F. Cut an 18-inch length of foil and fold it in half lengthwise. Fit into the bottom of a 9 x13 (or similar) baking dish, leaving the ends hanging over. Cut a 14 inch length piece and fit it into the pan, pressing it into the corners, perpendicular to the first piece, again with the ends hanging over. Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.

In the large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Gradually add the two sticks of butter, until the mixture resembles damp sand.

Measure out 1-1/4 cups of flour mixture and set it aside. Pour the remaining mixture into your foil-lined pan and press it down firmly. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes, until edges begin to brown.

While bottom crust is baking, add the 2 extra tablespoons of butter, the oatmeal, pecans, and brown sugar to the reserved flour mixture.

In yet another bowl, combine the fruit, lemon juice, and preserves, mashing the fruit with a fork to combine, but leave some large-ish pieces of fruit.

When the bottom crust is ready, spread the filling over the hot crust, and sprinkle with the streusel topping. Resist the urge to press down on the filling! Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, until the topping is brown and the fruit is bubbling. Cool on a wire rack for 1 to 2 hours. Remove from pan by grasping the foil extensions.  Makes about 24 squares.

I have used strawberry preserves and frozen, well drained, strawberries, as well as fresh peaches and apricot preserves. Enjoy!