Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Boy, Howdy!

22 Sep

raising kidsThis  meme was posted over on, and boy! does it hit home. My mum made no secret of the fact that she raised my sister and me exactly the way she had been raised. She grew up in Baltimore City, while we grew up in the rural suburbs.

She simply refused to help us attend after-school functions. “I found a way home; you can find a way home.” Well, gosh, Mum, all you had to do was hop on a bus or a streetcar.  Lynn and I walked. Miles. It is slightly over four miles from my high school to home, and slightly less than five miles from Lynn’s school.  Neither of us were afraid of a little exercise, but there would be days when we arrived home shortly before our dad, and it was getting dark.  We took confirmation lessons for two years (Lutherans are nothing if not thorough!) and rode the bus to Kingsville, but walked the last two miles to the church.

I do have to admit our three girls generally walked to the swimming pool from here, but they were not walking alone, is was daylight, and both The Squire and I were at work, so couldn’t drive take there. It is also only one and a half miles.

No makeup until we graduated, and we didn’t get our drivers licenses until we were eighteen, because she didn’t get hers until then. If we wanted to attend gatherings beyond walking distance, we had to hitch a ride with older, accommodating friends.

Don’t put too much water in the bathtub. Don’t ever put anything into your mouth except a spoon, a fork, or a toothbrush. Straws were strictly verboten, and dental floss – tooth twine, she called it – made her gag just to watch me use it. It mysteriously disappeared not too long after the dentist gave me some.

And of course, there was the bed making routine. Every week we had to do something to the mattress – flip, turn, or spin. Even when Mum was in a retirement center I had to spin, flip and turn her mattress every week when I came over to do her laundry. Modern mattresses are not made to be turned, so she kept a stack of blankets and quilts to pile on the exposed bottom, but it still must have felt as if she was sleeping on a railroad track.

Actually making the bed involved removing both sheets, setting the bottom sheet aside, turning the top sheet head-to-toe, and putting it on the bottom, then taking the original bottom sheet and putting it on top. Every. Blessed. Day.  I often  got scolded for a particularly messy job, but I never told Mum that Lynn kept her bed neatly made by sleeping on the floor, rolled in her quilt like a burrito. Truly, she would spread the quilt beside her bed, place the pillow close to the edge, and then flop herself down and roll along until her head was on the pillow.

It’s really a wonder I’m not battier than I am.



Hari Kari, Here I Come

14 Sep

Several months ago someone in our congregation donated a very basic set of vestments to the church.  Altar frontal, burse, veil and stole. If you are not familiar with liturgical terms, a burse is an envelope to hold extra linens used for communion; it sits on top of the veil and chalice.  The veil is the square cloth that is used to cover the chalice before and after the service. The stole is part of the vestments the priest wears, and represents  part of the clothing worn in “Bible times”. The frontal is the cloth that covers the top of the altar and hangs down over the front and sides.

And thereby hangs a tale. Because I am a seamstress, I got “elected” to put fringe and appliqued crosses on the appropriate pieces. Putting small crosses on the top of the burse and the front of the veil, as well as lining the veil, was no big deal, and putting fringe on the stole was no problem. But I came a cropper when I started on the frontal.

The frontal that was donated is about ten feet by five feet, with a 10 inch square cut out of each end of one long side – a sort of loooog, squat “T” shape.  I carefully basted the fringe to the frontal, making absolutely sure the fringe was straight, and today I sewed it on by machine. A row of stitches on the top of the fringe heading and another row across the bottom of the heading.  All neat, with no puckering or dips. Perfect!

I folded the fabric in half so I could center the large cross on the front – and discovered I’d sewn the fringe to the back edge instead of the shorter front!  Removing that blessed fringe is going to be a major pain. One misstep and the entire thing could come unraveled.

I’m going to have a long, warm bath, a glass of wine, and a big piece of cake. And go to bed.  I don’t need to have the frontal done until mid-November, and life will look better tomorrow.  Scarlet and I will think about it in the morning.

Next time somebody asks me to do this sort of thing, I’m going to blush, bat my eyelashes, simper, and whisper, “Hell, NO.”


Not the Good Pewter!

13 Sep

Most folks know I had a rather exotic upbringing. My Nana could have worked for the CIA, my Mum was probably crazy, and my grandmother had delusions for grandeur. I went to a boarding school , where I learned to use a cloth napkin, and took ballet lessons instead of gym. My grandmother refused to step foot in another woman’s kitchen; even at holidays, she’d help set the table, and she always brought the home-made cranberry sauce, but she would put it on the table, rather take it into the kitchen.

My grandmother was Hyacinth Bucket all over. She had somehow convinced herself – and my sister and me – that my grandfather was a Hapsburg, and we were princesses,  expected to behave as such. All too often she’d stop us from doing something “fun” by telling us ‘Princess Anne doesn’t do that, and she’s just a little thing’.” I grew up hating that poor woman, and she never did a thing to me!

So – Last week a woman at our church had baskets and baskets and baskets of grapes from her vines. I took about five pounds, picked them, cooked them, strained them, and today I finally got around to making jelly. When The Squire and I were first married we had a grape arbor below the pond, and I used to fill baby food jars with homemade jelly for him to take as Christmas gifts for the folks in his office, but this is the first time I’ve done it in living memory. It wasn’t a big deal, and really kind of fun.

All went well until it came time to put paraffin (wax) on top of the jars. Mum used a little white enamel pitcher, but heaven only knows what ever became of that. After considering – and rejecting – several options, I decided to use a small pewter creamer I got from “Hyacinth’ herself. I had always admired the set, but once I actually got it in my hand I understood why my grandmother had given it to me. It is very thin, low quality metal, and I can press it out of shape with my fingers. I’ve never put it on the table, and it’s just sat it the china closet since The Squire and I got married. I sat it in a pan of simmering water, melted my wax, and was topping off my jars when The Squire wandered through the kitchen.

“Are you using THAT to melt wax?”

“Oh, this isn’t the good pewter.”

“Oh, well, thank goodness”, sez he.



Decisions, Decisions

11 Sep

For a good many years The Squire has had to take a medication that costs about $500 over the counter. Maybe five years ago the insurance company put him on the generic brand, which is understandable. It is still wildly expensive, and doesn’t work quite as well, but we’re grateful to get even that.

About two weeks ago he got a letter stating that they would no longer cover this. Period. We called the company and they said the medication needed to be pre-authorized. OK. We do this once a year. Not sure why, as this was just done  a few months ago, for a six month period, and we’re still in the middle.

Call to the doctor, another call to the insurance people, another letter denying the claim. Rinse and repeat.

We got a phone call Tuesday afternoon, informing us “the claim has been decisioned”. Yup. Decisioned. They had, finally, decisioned to cover the medicine.


It’s Going to be a Long Winter

8 Sep

I found these when I went out to get the newspaper this morning.  I’ve never seen such huge acorns. Ever.                                                      DSCN0727

Don’t Bury Me at Sea.

25 Aug

The Squire and I were sitting in the den this afternoon, working at our respective computers when the water pump kicked in. Mind you, we just had a go-round with the pump in June, so we both got up to see what was going on.

A pipe leading to the water heater has split.  When the men installed the tank three years ago, I told them they needed to use plastic pipe. “Our water is so acidic it will eat through the copper in no time.” Sorry, ma’am, but the county code calls for copper. County code be dammed, is my attitude, but I couldn’t talk them out of it. So here we are.

The split is just about at eye-level, and everything from your shoulders down is wet, clear to the floor.  Lovely.  The Squire turned off the pump, and began picking up bags of pet food, and anything else that was either wet or in the way. I called Mac and ran over to borrow their wet-vac. (At this rate, we ought to buy one for ourselves!) We called the emergency number on the side of the heater, but apparently they don’t take Sunday emergencies into their schedule. That will be the first call tomorrow morning.

So – we have cold running water, but not hot. I heated water on the stove to wash the dishes (The dishwasher was loaded.) and we did them the old fashioned way. We can still flush the toilet, but showers may be a problem. I think I’ll wait until tomorrow for that.

Enough with the water problems. Just don’t bury me at sea!


Try to Behave

21 Aug

A few weeks ago The Squire asked our GP about the arthritis in his hands. That good man suggested the problem might be my husband’s CMT* attacking his upper extremities.

A trip to a neurologist, Dr. Thomas, who agreed that this was the problem. He was surprised that The Squire had not even gotten a diagnosis until he was in his mid-30s, and astounded that he was in as “great shape” as he is. Most people with CMT are in a wheelchair – or worse – by their 70s. They discussed the three-times-a-week trips to the gym; keep on keeping on, but try not to overdo it. While The Squire can prevent too much more deterioration, he can’t build muscle, because there really isn’t anything there to build on. The doctor didn’t think the hearing loss was related, as there are no muscles in the ear.

“Now, let’s take a look at those hands.” A nerve conduction test was scheduled and performed, and there is, not surprisingly, a good deal of weakness caused by the nerves dying. One thing the doctor pointed out was that The Squire should be very careful of where his hands are and what they are doing. “You may think you have an item in your hand, but drop it because you don’t have a firm grip on it. Also, when you reach for something, your hand may not go as far as your brain says it has, so be careful of that.” Twice, The Squire has grabbed for the egg turner and touched the side of the frying pan instead, and now it makes sense.

So – he came home after getting the results of the nerve conduction test, and relayed all of this good stuff to me. He wandered around a bit, and then came into the kitchen to clean a bag of fresh string beans I’d gotten from a friend in our knitting group. “I have to find a way to keep busy without messing up my hands and feet any worse than they are.”

Today, he went outside and took rocks out of the stream, tossed them into the cart, and took them away to toss into another spot. So much for not messing up has hands and feet.

Try to behave yourself.

*CMT –  Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome is named after the three doctors, Jean-Martin Charcot, Pierre Marie, and Howard Henry Tooth, who first clinically identified it. It is an hereditary condition which causes the nerves to die and the muscles atrophy. If it “kicks in” when you are a child, the bones “warp” to a certain extent to accommodate this, but if it begins in later years, the pain of the tendons pulling against the bones is so severe that some patients have a leg amputated, rather than endure the torment. There is no cure, only palliative care. The Squire has donated his body to the anatomy board.