Sunday, December 24, 2006

quote of the day

I hear that in many places something has happened to Christmas; that it is changing from a time of merriment and carefree gaiety to a holiday which is filled with tedium; that many people dread the day and the obligation to give Christmas presents is a nightmare to weary, bored souls; that the children of enlightened parents no longer believe in Santa Claus; that all in all, the effort to be happy and have pleasure makes many honest hearts grow dark with despair instead of beaming with good will and cheerfulness.
~Julia Peterkin, A Plantation Christmas, 1934

Friday, December 22, 2006

christmas candy

I've been making candy. Yesterday I made my world famous fudge. Now, I need to give you a little history about this candy. My Mom would make fudge every Christmas. It was usually hard and grainy but I loved it and had no idea that fudge could come in any other texture. When my oldest sister grew up, married, and had a place of her own she began to make her own fudge. I sampled it one day and it was soft and smooth. I asked her what was wrong with her fudge, didn't she go by Mom's recipe? No, she said, this is the way fudge is supposed to be made. I was shocked. I was disillusioned. How could this be? So when I grew up I started making fudge the way I always loved it as a kid. I cook it and cook it and beat it and beat it and scrape it onto a baking sheet just in time to prevent the wooden spoon from becoming encased in the fudge like a fence post in concrete. Very few people will eat it so I get all the hard fudge I want every Christmas.

Today I made peanut brittle. There is a science to it. When the batch reaches 300 degrees or hard crack, as they say in the candy making vernacular, it's necessary to remove it from heat, add the vanilla/soda mixture and stir like crazy, then pour it out on cookie sheets to cool. If you go past 300 degrees it will burn. On the first batch I hesitated for just a nanosecond after reaching hard crack and discovered a new type of peanut brittle. I think I'll call it Premium Dark Brittle. It's not burned, it's just well done. It tastes good to me. I offered some to my daughter Kelly but she passed. I'll see if Dorothy will try it when she gets home. If I can market this and it catches on it may turn out to be the ship coming in that I've waited for for so long.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

quote of the day

Life comes from physical survival, but the good life comes from what we care about.
--Rollo May

birthday party

Hunter's birthday cake.
Hunter blows out the four candles on his cake.

Friday, December 15, 2006

quote of the day

There is an important difference between love and friendship. While the former delights in extremes and opposites, the latter demands equality.
--Francoise d’Aubigne Maintenon

feeding jenna

I'm baby sitting Hunter and Jenna today. When lunch time came it was easy to take care of Hunter. Just make him some pancakes and he's good to go. Now that Jenna is eight months old it takes a little ingenuity to get her fed. Here's how I accomplished it: I put her in her high chair and things went fine for the first ten spoonfuls, her mouth opening like a baby bird's whenever the full spoon of lasagna approached. But the edge was soon gone from her hunger and she looked around for something to play with. She rippped a few leaves from Dorothy's house plant, so I scooted the high chair further away. To get her back to the business of eating I used the time proven method of pretending the spoon is an airplane and her mouth the hanger, and it worked for a second. She turned around and stood up in the chair trying to reach for the plant. I believe for every problem there is a solution, so I removed her from the high chair and set her on my lap and continued to feed her lunch. She pulled a cup of coffee off the table and into my lap. (Fortunately the coffee wasn't hot and our Cocker Spaniel, Lizzie, licked it up off the floor so there's no mess to clean up) I put her back into the chair and tried to feed her more. She had finished half the jar so I called Kelly to see if that was enough. I had to end the phone conversation when Jenna got herself caught in the high chair. She had one foot caught between the slats at the back of the chair and the other between the slats at the side of the chair. It was like solving a puzzle getting her extricated. Then it was time for her formula.

I mixed her formula and sat in the recliner feeding her. She held the bottle with one hand while she pulled my beard, squeezed my nose, and pulled my glasses off with the other hand. I noticed then that both Jenna and I had considerable amounts of lasagna on us. I hope I didn't get any on grandma's chair. Dorothy will be home from work soon and we'll be taking the little ragamuffins home. I think I'll stop by the optometrist's office and see if he can bend my eyeglass frames back into their original shape.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

quote of the day

Courage is as often the outcome of despair as hope; in the one case we have nothing to lose, in the other, all to gain.
--Diane De Poitiers

hunter's birthday

I haven't posted to the blog in two weeks. That's a record for me. Since Dorothy started a full time job I've been doing all the cooking, cleaning, etc. A house husband's work is never done. Woe is me. Well, that's my whine for the day.
We've had three birthday dinners for the grandkids in recent weeks and I haven't posted one photo. I'll try to get to that soon. Hunter's dinner is this weekend and he's requesting hot dogs. He also wants a cake with a dinosaur on it, so I had his mom take a picture of him and I combined that with a picture of a dinosaur for the photo below. Tomorrow I'll take it and get an edible image made and Dorothy will put it on the cake.

Friday, December 01, 2006

let it snow!

Our cheeks are rosy and comfy cozy are we
We're snuggled up together like three birds of a feather would be.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

quote of the day

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
~John Ruskin

what i'm reading now

On Beauty by Zadie Smith is the best work of fiction I have read in a long time. In this novel, Ms. Smith deals with race, class, family, and religious hypocrisy while telling a great story. I'll be searching the internet for more books by her.

oklahoma!...where the wind/rain/hail/sleet/snow comes sweeping down the plain

In the last 24 hours we have been under a tornado watch, winter storm warning, flood watch, and the first blizzard warning ever issued for this part of the state. If we can't get a handle on this global warming we're going to freeze to death here in Oklahoma.

This morning we woke up to rain and since it was still above freezing, Dorothy decided to drive in to work. She called at 10:30 to tell me she was on her way home. Things were beginning to freeze and she wanted to get home while she could still manage the roads without slipping and sliding.

The roads were still clear at our house so we went to Walmart to pick up a few things. Before we checked out a sleet storm began. The sleet pellets stung my head and ears when I made a dash for the car to bring it around to the front door of the store to pick up Dorothy. We drove home through England Hollow over sleet covered roads without losing traction. Barren Fork creek was over the banks when we crossed over the bridge. This is strange weather.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

only in oklahoma

Tonight we're experiencing a phenomenon that seems to be unique to Oklahoma and it environs. We're under a tornado watch and a winter storm warning at the same time. It was warm and humid this afternoon, then a thunderstorm blew in knocking out the electricity. The temperature has dropped 30 degrees in the last few hours. Soon the rain will turn to freezing rain, sleet, then snow. Travel will be almost impossible. Dorothy just started a new job this week in Tahlequah and we're hoping her employer will shut down for the bad weather and she won't have to go in. Of course, if she does go in, I'll have to drive her to work. How ironic, that after twenty one years of driving over there in winter, I'll have to drive Dorothy after I've retired.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

dreaded black friday

I told Dorothy I would accompany her on her shopping frenzy the day after Thanksgiving, but when the alarm went off at 3:00am, I didn't wake up. She woke me to tell me she was leaving. "You should have got me up", I protested, but she just kissed me good-bye and drove off into the cold Oklahoma night. I never saw her again...... until 13 hours later.

The line begins to form outside of Best Buy. Dorothy patiently waits in line at a Target store.

annual thanksgiving photo

Oops! this is not the picture I wanted to post.

There, that's better!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

the clan

Here is our entire family.
Dorothy and I and the grandkids

These photos published with the permission of Mark Jackson of Main Street Studio, Siloam Springs, AR.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

quote of the day

You can live a lifetime and, at the end of it, know more about other people than you know about yourself.
-- Beryl Markham

Saturday, November 18, 2006

the perfect cup

I bought this cup at a yard sale for ten cents. It's the perfect cup. It's made of thick crockery, and look at the handle, it's shaped just so to balance the cup across the fulcrum of the middle finger. Whoever made this cup knows how it should feel in a person's hand. Holding it is half the pleasure of drinking my morning coffee. Dorothy thinks it's the wrong color for me. Not very masculine. It's not really pink; more of a salmon, but being the renaissance man that I am, I have no problem getting in touch with my feminine side. It's not the color or even the fact that it's made from heavy, thick crockery that I like so much. It's that it's so ergonomically satisfying.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

quote of the day

If Joan of Arc could turn the tide of an entire war before her eighteenth birthday, you can get out of bed.
--E. Jean Caroll

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


  • It's a blustery, rainy day. I drove to town to take some donated books to the library and to mail some books that I've sold. I stopped for gas and while I pumped it the wind drove a cold rain that made me shiver. I had to take a moment to be grateful that I no longer spend days like this exposed to the elements while completing my mail rounds. Being retired means you can go out in the rain for a little while if you want, but then you're back into your cozy, warm rabbit hole, safe and dry.
  • Dorothy will be home from work soon. I'm making pinto beans, c0rnbread, and fried potatoes for lunch. That's a meal to console a wayfarer who's travelled through a storm.
  • We've decided to question each other when our actions are out of character. Explanation: At Walmart the other day I noticed two packs of Prilosec among the groceries travelling down the conveyer belt to the cashier. I didn't question it. I assumed it was on sale and Dorothy was going to stock up. As she walked away from the counter she noticed she was charged twice for the stuff and questioned the cashier about it. The cashier told her there were two of them and I confirmed that I had seen two so we ended up giving one back and getting a refund. I should have spoken up when I saw something out of the ordinary. Then, Monday, Dorothy had to take a drug test for possible employment with the Cherokee Nation. As soon as we arrived at the human resources office she had to go to the bathroom. I thought to myself, 'that's odd. Why would she go now when she has to pee in a cup in a few minutes?' I asked her that when she returned from the rest room. Why didn't you mention that before I went?, she wondered. I told her I thought women could pee at the drop of a hat. But, not to worry, after a few glasses of water she was able to produce. And I've had some mental lapses of my own lately, mostly having to do with the checkbook. Or I'll be working on a project and have to go into another room for a tool and forget what tool I needed by the time I enter the other room, or I'll start doing something else and forget about the original project until hours later. So we've made a pact to put on the brakes when we notice something out of place with each other and not proceed until we're certain we are both in our right minds. We are determined to not go gently into the nursing home.

Monday, November 13, 2006

quote of the day

"What is my job on the planet?" is one question we might do well to ask ourselves over and over again. Otherwise, we may wind up doing somebody else's job and not even know it. And what's more, that somebody else might be a figment of our own imagination, and maybe a prisoner of it as well.
--Jon Kabat-Zinn

Friday, November 10, 2006

random thoughts

I was surprized when I noticed that I hadn't posted since last Sunday. The time is slipping away. Every day goes by so fast I hardly have time to pay attention to it. All the great philosophers tell we should seize the moment. If only I could cease the moment.

Yesterday, I was raking leaves in the front yard. The hammock looked inviting in the stark afternoon light. I haven't used it since last fall. It was a retirement gift from Dorothy. I layed down the rake and prepared to ease into it. Getting into one of those things is not like riding a bicycle, you do forget how to balance and shift your weight just so to avoid flipping out the other side.

Dorothy and I went to yard sales today. I'm trying to increase the inventory for my online book sales. She seems better able to spot those small yard sale signs at the corners of intersections than I am. I have a theory. It goes back to prehistoric times when men were hunters and women were gatherers. Men, after eons of searching the horizon for signs of migrating Mastodons and Woolly Mammoths, have lost the ability to see things right under their noses, while women have an uncanny ability to spot garage sale signs because of generation after generation of searching for roots and berries. Dorothy says that women are just smarter than men. I can think of no viable argument or evidence to contradict her assertion.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

quote of the day

I got my first full-time job, but it's weird. I could swear I was making more money in college, working for my parents as their daughter.
--Melanie Reno, comedienne

random thoughts

A few days ago I rolled up to the ATM and there was a woman parked at the machine. From my vantage point behind her vehicle I could see she was doing something, her shoulders barely moving and her head down. I assumed she was filling out a deposit slip. A few minutes went by and she hadn't conducted any business. After a few more minutes I was ready to start honking but I didn't want to be as rude as she was, although I was tempted to get out and ask her to move aside if she wasn't actually going to use the machine, but I thought she might be startled into dialing 911 and then I would have to explain to the local constabulary that I wasn't accosting her for the purposes of rape or robbery, I was just wanting to get some legal cash from the machine. She finally noticed me in her rear view and still took another minute to make a deposit, get cash and move on. Why do people wait until they're at the ATM before they begin to fill out deposit slips? Couldn't they do that at home? When I worked for the Postal Service, some people would drive up to the outside collection boxes and sit there writing checks for their bills, and one by one stuffing them into envelopes, stamping them, then dropping them into the box. Having a line of cars behind them with people wanting to deposit their outgoing mail didn't seem to phase them. It usually took a lot of horn honking and cursing to get them to move. Why? Were they not taught to be courteous by their parents?My generation was taught to take turns, share, and to maintain some sense of order, not that 100% of us do. What is happening?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

quote of the day

How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.
-- Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Reading, 1854

esl baby shower

Nora, one of the students of our English as a Second Language class is going to have a baby, so we had a shower for her.
Nora opens her presents.
Our students
Linda Harvil, one of our ESL teachers prepares to play a word game.
Dorothy made this cake. Even the knitting needls are edible.

runaway pumpkin

My daughter, Kelly, is the home room mom for Marley's 1st grade class. She asked if I would come to the Halloween Party and read a story to the kids. I read the story of the Runaway Pumpkin, then I cut the top off of one of the pumpkins I brought. The little ragamuffins were thrilled to reach inside and feel how slimy it was. They all took a pumpkin seed home with them.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

quote of the day

Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don't practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us -- and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along.
--Carl Sagan, The Fine Art of Baloney Detection

Monday, October 30, 2006

home work

Last night Marley (6yrs old) was told to do the homework that was due this morning. She was reluctant, kept putting it off, and got busy working on this project. She finally did her homework, though. I think she needs some home work in spelling.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

hot springs

No trip to Hot Springs is complete without a ride on the ducks; WWII amphibious vehicles that give you a tour of downtown and then drive right into the water for a cruise around the lake.
When I bought these duck bills for Marley and Hunter I had no idea they also made a duck noise. A loud duck noise. It proved to be a source of joy for all the passengers, the people walking on the sidewalk, and of course, their parents when they arrived home.

There are a lot of fancy house at the edge of the lake. This one, barely visible through the trees, has been converted to a bed and breakfast.

After the chilly ride on the lake we warm up with hot chocolate and a game of tic-tac-toe.

crater of diamonds state park

Near Murfreesboro, Ar., the Crater of Diamonds State Park is a site where an ancient volcanic vent surfaces depositing diamonds and other precious gems. You pay 6.00 and you can dig all day and keep any diamonds you find. There have been several diamonds found the past year weighing around 5 carets.

Marley turns to say "Come on Pops," but I'm too fat to dig for diamonds. Grandma and Hunter may be on the verge of finding something.
Cleaning the tools afterward.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

talimena drive

We start the Talimena Drive, a scenic 54 mile stretch of highway that climbs along the ridges of two mountains with wonderful views on each side. It starts near Talahina, OK. and ends at Mena, AR.

I love steam locomotives. We found this one on display at the top of Rich Mountain in the Queen Wilhelmina State Park.

I was born too late. The perfect career would have been as an engineer on a steam locomotive.

The Queen Wilhelmina Lodge was opened in 1898. It was named after Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands who was crowned the same year in hopes that she would honor them with a visit. She didn't.

And aerial view of the lodge.
The lodge in 1898 when it opened.

The locomotive wouldn't run but we found this miniature train to ride.

We continue the drive. Next stop: Crater of Diamonds State Park