Monday, August 30, 2010

Apron Chronicles

The other day while at the laundromat, I watched a woman walk in, carrying her basket of clothes. She wore a clean, light blue house dress with tiny floral print, and a crisp white apron with pockets was tied firmly around her waist. Her brown hair was pulled back into a low pony tail, but wisps of hair had escaped and fell forward. With wire rimmed glasses perched on her nose, she went about the business at hand of sorting the clothes, spraying any spots with stain remover, and putting the clothes in various washers. She poured bleach in, added some kind of powder detergent,  and went back and added something else. She was so involved with this job of washing clothes. It seemed important to her. And she seemed content. She probably wasn’t much older than me; yet she appeared older by the clothes she wore. It was a breath of fresh air, really, a reminder of simpler times, when my Mom wore a house dress and an apron and baked every single day.

I thought about how nice it would be to wear an apron, with roomy  pockets to collect all the things I'd find during the day, all the odds and ends, like a paper clip, pens, coins, etc.  The pockets would also a good place to keep a kleenex, especially during a bad cold!

I am a MESSY cook. I always seem to splash a little bit of this or that on my clothes as I stir, mix, or fold the ingredients. Grease splatters on my shirt, spaghetti sauce sputters, and fried eggs talk back! If I wore an apron I would save a LOT of clothes and heartache on laundry day! I keep saying that I will buy one, yet I never do.

In my post on Flashback Friday, I spoke about the Grace Museum in Abilene, Texas.

 Their visiting exhibition was this wonderful exhibit entitled, "Apron Chronicles". Two large ropes were hung criss-cross spanning the large room, with 300 aprons clothes-pinned to them!

Special Holiday aprons

With blurry eyes, a thick lump in my throat, and memories of my Mom weighing heavily on my mind, I gazed lovingly at the delicate pieces of fabric hanging before me. There were all kinds of aprons, from downright fancy that you wouldn't want to spill ANYTHING on, to everyday aprons.

The exhibit is based on the book, "Apron Chronicles" by EllynAnne Geisel.

EllynAnne collected stories in this wonderful little book about people and their relationship with aprons, their memories of their moms, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, etc., wearing aprons and the chores that they did like gathering eggs in the folds of the apron, sticking fresh picked vegetables in the pockets, wearing certain aprons for doing the washing, etc. Kristina Loggia took the photographs in the book, which are gorgeous.

The above photos of the aprons are courtesy of . No cameras were allowed in the exhibit. I recommend you click on the link to get a glimpse into the book, read some of the pages, and feel the warmth and love that this book exudes.

This video is a little long, but quite interesting, of the exhibit. Please watch it - you will surely enjoy it!

And finally, when my Mom died in 2000, I grabbed a couple of her old aprons, her banged up old measuring cups and some of her other cooking utensils, and put together a shadow box for all my siblings. I cut pieces of her apron and put it over a batting for the background, then placed a hand-written recipe card, a picture of Mom sitting in the kitchen, and some of the above pieces on the apron. Even though I am NOT a crafty person, I was happy with the way it turned out. My sister took this picture for me of her shadow box - mine is packed away. If you look closely, you can see that on the recipe card, my Dad added his two cents! It says, "Try 6 first".

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weekend Reflections - Optical Illusion


This is an office building in downtown Dallas. I like how it looks like a building within a building.

For more Weekend Reflections, visit James.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Flashback Friday - Abilene, TX - Part One!

Hee-Haw! Today we are taking a trip to Abilene, Texas! It just happened to be a resting point for us on our way to Arizona, but this little town sure packs a wallop!
We stayed in a campground with few amenities. Wait, who am I kidding? There were NO amenities except the usual water, electric, and sewer. And if I remember right, the campground owner looked a little frightening, like any minute he'd hop over the counter, knock me down on all fours, tweak my ear and ask me if I could squeal like a pig, while his cross-eyed kid plunked the theme song to Deliverance. Jim reassured me that everything would be okay (how he knew this was beyond me), and we signed our life on the dotted line for  three nights.

I know. We like to live on the edge. Thus the name of this blog.

Unbeknown to us, the campground was situated right on the flightpath for Dyess Air Force Base. The first time those fighter jets came screaming overhead, we both jumped up and ran outside thinking WTF?

Another morning several C-130's took off; barely letting one get off the runway before the next one started down it. This photo shows six in the air, but there could have been more after that.

We went to the Visitor's Center, located in the Frontier Texas! building. Frontier Texas! is a neat experience and is fairly reasonable in price - $8 for adults, $6 for seniors/military. You can experience 100 years of the Texas frontier from 1780 - 1880. You meet some of the actual people (re-enactments) who had lived in that time, through film clips and holograms.

At one point you sit in a theater in the round on seats that turn completely around to get the full effect of the show.

The Town of Abilene offers a "Round-up Pass" for $15. You can see 6 attractions at one low price. We opted for that and actually went to four out of the six attractions in 3 days! (Frontier, Texas! being one of them.)

We went to the Abilene Zoo, and although it was small, it was very nice. It was clean and not crowded at all.
East African Crowned Crane
My favorite animal at the zoo!

Nap time! Can't you see  the "Zzzz's" above his head?

Look at the face on this monkey! Doesn't it look like a mask?
Abilene has 25 sculptures throughout the town, so we picked up a map and made a point of seeing each one of them. I will only show a few of the photos, but click here to see all the sculptures.

This one is called Jacob's Dream and consists of a 32.5-foot bronze sculpture of four angels descending and ascending a ladder between heaven and earth. Surrounding this beautiful sculpture are almost 100 limestone blocks, each etched with the words of scripture. Also at the site is a baptismal pool and a hidden cross/portal that can only be seen from only one vantage point. Jim found the "cross". Do you see it?

Pink Flamingo    

This next sculpture is called, "Childhood's Great Adventure" and is based on the book "Santa Calls", about three children from Abilene. It was written and illustrated by William Joyce.

The Pig
Bull Skull

We visited the Grace Museum, which actually houses three separate museums inside  - the Art Museum, the History Museum, and the Children's Museum - all for one price. I will talk about the visiting exhibition at the Art Museum in another post.

The first floor is the Art Museum, which has five galleries. This was on one of the walls.

It was an inter-active musical instrument made of wood. Each piece makes a musical sound when pushed, from a horn blowing, to the beating of a drum, to the strumming of a guitar. Jim and I had so much fun with this!

On the second floor is the Childrens Museum. We were the only ones there! This is a large Operations Game.

The third floor housed the History Museum. It had a 1940's boot shop, and period rooms furnished from 1910-1948. It was quite interesting.

I decided to break this up into two posts because there was so much to see in Abilene! So part two will be the next Flashback Friday, September 3rd!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Open Wide Please

Jim came home from the dentist today, after having some work done. His mouth stayed numb for hours afterward.

"Boy, he must be using some new stuff! That sucker is powerful!" In fact, Jim didn't even eat lunch because his lips were too numb.

I wonder if the dentist could shoot this stuff into MY gums like, say, every OTHER day, perhaps?

Jim had to get one of his old fillings replaced. It's going to be a sad day when that happens to me, 'cause I have a LOT of silver fillings. And they are back from when I was a kid.

I have a gap between my front teeth - not proud of it, but that's the facts. My mother used to reassure me that my teeth would eventually grow together. Okay, Ma, I'm soon to be 55, and they're yet to be touching, so exactly how LONG do I have to wait?

It seems the problem is that I am missing another adult tooth somewhere along the line that would have smooshed (I think that's the actual technical term, too) the two front teeth together. Damn! One dentist went so far as to tell me that it's because of my Mediterranean background that I'm missing a tooth. Really? Huh. Both my kids are missing a tooth, too, so I know it is hereditary, but I don't know who the heck I got it from.

I don't have a very good history with dentists. When I was a kid, I used to walk to the dentist every Saturday. He'd take one good look at my teeth and say, "Come back next week." He claimed I was too young for braces. Yeah, right. I was 13 years old and he STILL said that!

The only good thing about going to him was that he gave out good toys. I remember getting a plastic wiener dog that was cut in half, and each half was attached to a plastic case with a toothbrush inside. I didn't care about the toothbrush (obviously with all my fillings!), but I could stick the two pieces of the dog together and have one complete dog to play with!

When I was an adult I remember going to a dentist named Dr. Wiener. I actually think his name was pronounced "weener" and not "winer"! Well, Dr. Wiener may have looked experienced with his salt and pepper hair, but something tells me that he just recently got his license to practice.

I went directly from work to my appointment. I was wearing a dress. The first incident that caused me to wonder about the ole Doc was when he was using one of the tools and the cord came between my legs and started pulling my dress up. I kept pulling my dress back down with my hand.

Then when he started "buffing" my teeth with that bumpy, rubbery thing, he DROPPED it on my chest and it when flying all over the place while he tried to grab it.

Hey, wait a minute. Now that I'm typing this, it sounds like he was a dirty old dentist, doesn't it. Damn! I may have been young and naive at the time, but I was smart enough not to go back to him again!

Time moved on, I grew older, and my friend recommend these two dentists to me. One was more good looking that the other. I sat in the chair, glanced up in the drop-dead gorgeous dentist's blue eyes, and when he said, "Open wide", while he pushed the button to recline my chair, I thought, "Now we're talking!"

But that was a short lived affair. One day my then 10 year-old son jumped off a railing at school and chipped his front tooth. The nerve was exposed and he needed immediate attention. The cute dentists couldn't "fit us in", so we called around till we found someone who could, and have been going to that dentist for the past 20 years.

He may not be as cute as the other guys, but he and his office staff treat me with kid gloves on. I have a significant gag reflex, and can't stand any kind of cloth or cotton near or IN my mouth. Oh yeah, I'm a barrel of laughs. But all this info is written on my chart and they respect me and my phobias. Sure, after I leave they probably suck on some of that laughing gas and then make gagging noises and shove cotton in their mouths and mimic me, but what I don't know won't hurt me. La-la-la-la-la *sticking fingers in my ears*

Monday, August 23, 2010

All for the love of a dog - Part Four

This is the fourth and FINAL installment in the series, " All for the love of a dog".  The condensed version is this:

Part One - My twin sister, Pam, has to put down her beloved husky, Nickoli.

Part Two - Pam finds Benny on the internet and we go and meet him at his foster home.

Benny tested high positive for heartworm so Pam has to wait several weeks while he goes through painful treatments and lies low for a bit.

Part Three - Benny (border collie/malamute mix) has fallen in love with Bloom, a full-blooded husky. (He must not have been feeling too sick!) The two of them are inseparable. The shelter asks Pam if she would consider taking both dogs. We take the three hour drive out to check up on Benny and meet Bloom.

If you want to read the full posts, just click on the links.

Pam decided that she would adopt both Benny and Bloom. How could she not?

The BIG day had finally arrived. We were going to pick up the dogs. They were located in South Bend, IN, which was about a three hour drive from Pam's house. I, in turn, am staying about 1 1/2 hours WEST of Pam. So when you do the math, it means a LOT of hours in a car/truck.

I have to say that Jim was a trooper about the whole thing, being that he's not an animal lover. He set the alarm for 5:15 a.m. (I can't remember the last time we got up that early!)  so we could leave our place by 6:00 a.m. Pam wanted to be on the road by 8:00 a.m.

It was an enjoyable ride so early in the morning; it was like the rising sun hadn't wiped the fog out of it's eyes yet. As the sun rose higher in the sky, I saw it glisten off the dew on the grass, the corn, and even the telephone wires.

I was happy to see about 10 sandhill cranes in a farmer's field. Farther down I spied a goat standing on top of his little home. That put a big smile on my face! And to cap off the trip, right down the street from my sister's house, I saw two black squirrels romping around the school grounds. I guess they are common in her neighborhood, but I haven't seen black squirrels in a long time. We arrived at Pam's, Jim carried in my suitcase, pecked me on the lips, and drove off with a smile. I think he likes my little adventures with my sister - gives him some alone time, too!

Pam could hardly contain her excitement; she had waited so long for Benny, and now she was getting a bonus - Bloom. We made sure we had everything - leashes, collars, water bowl, and MY CAMERA!

This would be our third trip to South Bend to see Benny at the foster mom's house. We don't seem to have a problem getting there; it's getting home where the issue comes up. The first trip we had a GPS to guide us, plus we called our brother for extra instructions. The second trip we missed the exit to stay on 80 east towards Iowa and ended up driving through bumper-to-bumper traffic in downtown Chicago, and the third time, the past weekend, well, wait, I'm getting ahead of myself here.

We arrived at Chris, the foster mom's house, right at noon, her time (we gain an hour in Indiana). Chris came out and greeted us and explained that she wanted to go over some paperwork with Pam before we got the dogs.

Pam and I followed her into the house. Five or six huskies and one deaf/blind chocolate lab greeted us at the door. Then they trotted behind us to the enclosed porch at the back of the house and watched as Pam sat down on the love seat. A red-haired husky jumped right up next to her and nuzzled her neck and licked her face.

"Oh, that's our newest foster dog, Marina," Chris said. "She needs a lot of love and attention."

I sat down next to Pam and Marina squeezed behind me for awhile before jumping off and curling up at my feet.

Chris and Pam discussed Bloom's and Benny's health histories, Pam signed on the dotted line, and pretty soon it was time to get the dogs.

We left the house, walked across the driveway, then entered the kennel area. First we opened a gate, then closed it behind us, standing in an area of about 10 feet before opening another gate that enters into the large yard and the kennels. There were only four dogs in the kennels; Molly (the husky with no teeth that I discussed in a previous post), Benny, Bloom, and this big, ole galoot of a dog names Boston. He was a malamute mix, must have weighed at least 140 pounds. He got right into the mix of things. Chris called Benny and Bloom out from their kennels.

Benny recognized Pam right away and was so happy to see her! They got Benny's collar and leash on him, but it took a while to get Bloom's on her. She gets so excited because she thinks she is going for a walk. She doesn't sit still. Chris couldn't get Bloom's leash on. So she said, "Let's get Benny all settled into the car. Then we'll bring Bloom out."

Chris put Bloom back in her kennel.

So Pam took Benny by the leash, and I followed.  The last I looked, Chris was right behind me. Pam walked through the first gate, and I was right behind her. Then she walked through the second gate, and again, I followed close behind her. The last I looked, Chris was behind me, so I didn't lock the gate.

We walked towards the car, Pam holding Benny's leash and some papers, me holding my camera, when all of a sudden we heard Chris scream, "OH SHIT!" We both whipped around and saw Bloom tearing out of the gate without a leash on. Huskies are known to be runners.

Bloom was heading straight for us. Pam called out, "Come here, Bloom!" 

I put my arm out to catch the dog, and Bloom went charging past me while I clamped on to her collar. My arm got yanked and twisted backwards at the same time. Pam dropped Benny's leash, Chris came pounding up behind us, and somehow all three of us got our hands on Bloom.

Meanwhile Benny just watched all the activity surrounding him.

Chris snapped the leash on Bloom.

I felt the pain in my arm instantly. I could barely move it and wanted to cry, but I toughened it up.

I felt bad that I didn't lock the gate behind me, but I thought Chris was following me. She changed her plan and decided to get Bloom.

I got into the car and they loaded Benny in the back. I held on to his leash. Then they got Bloom into the back and then both Pam AND Chris CRAWLED into the back. Now we have three adults and two dogs all in one car with all the windows closed. Everyone was breathing a little heavy at this point. Bloom was excited, and Benny was lying down and didn't understand what all the excitement was about. Chris told us that Bloom doesn't do well in the car and she recommended that we anchor Bloom's leash so she wouldn't pace in the car. Chris quickly looped the leash to a metal ring on the floor of the vehicle and then both she and Pam exited the side door of the car. Pam came around and hopped into the driver's seat. She quickly started up the engine, cranked the a/c, and was ready to step on it, when Chris said, "Wait! I have some dog food left!" She ran back and returned with a large pail of dog food, which ended up between me feet. Then I placed my purse on top of it, plus my camera. I barely had room to negotiate my feet.

We were ready to blow this pop stand!

We quickly said goodbye and left. It was such a fiasco with trying to get a collar and leash on Bloom, then when she ran out of the gate, then the whole episode with my arm, then getting Bloom into the car, we were glad to finally be on the road. The exit for the 80 turnpike came up real quick and we weren't paying close attention. I had been rearranging things by my feet. Pam said, "Wait, isn't this it?" I glanced up and just saw, "80/90" and said "Yes".

Well you know what happened.

Instead of going West towards Chicago/Iowa, we went East to Ohio.

Oh yes we did. In fact, we went all the way to Ohio. Well, let's just say we got off and turned around the last exit before Ohio. We went 72 miles east before noticing. Then we had to hop off the turnpike, get onto another highway, drive to the first exit, get off, get on, and get back on the turnpike heading west.

Go ahead laugh.

Jim said to us, "Didn't you see ANY signs that said 80 EAST?"

Uh, no.

It's true at one point Pam said to me, while looking at the compass in her car, "Why does this say that we are heading east?"

And I said, are you ready, "Well, sometimes the road turns a bit, and it curves to the east, but then straightens out." I guess that rule applies if you were heading like North, Northeast or something, but not in the complete OPPOSITE direction. Again, remember I am a blond.

So we've now added 2 hours to our 3 hour trip. Yep. And Bloom whimpered most of the way home. But she was a good girl and she laid down a lot, too. This is when we were on the road for about a half an hour.

We didn't plan to stop and let the dogs go potty, but since WE had to go potty, and we did add an extra few hours to our trip, Pam took the dogs out one at a time to do their duty.

Benny was so sweet. He didn't say a peep the whole trip; he'd just get up and kiss Pam then come over and kiss me. He'd always go from one of us to the other.

We finally arrived home about 5:00 pm. We were exhausted but happy. Here are the doggies getting acclimated to their new home.

These dogs are already attached to Pam. Here they are peeking in the door, waiting for her to come back outside. They are finally home.

By the way, my arm is doing much better after a couple of days of putting ice on it and taking an anti-inflammatory drug.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekend Reflection - Sunset on Metal

This week's contribution for Weekend Reflections is the setting sun reflecting off of these tall grain bins on this country farm.

To see more reflections, visit James

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oxymoron Careers

The other day, as Jim and I were traveling down the road, I punched in a country station on our Sirius Satellite radio. After a few songs, the DJ came on and said a few words, and I noticed that he spoke with a slight lisp. I've heard this DJ before, and I remember that it bothered me then, too. Now, believe me, I'm not prejudiced against people with lisps. But, c'mon, don't you think this guy's in the wrong profession? He's a RADIO ANNOUNCER, for god sake! I found that the more he spoke, the more I honed in on his lisp and didn't really listen to what he had to say. Seriously, how could he get a job in this line of work?

Now, it's true that Lester Holt,

who is a famous TV news anchor for NBC and MSNBC, also has a slight lisp, but at least

a) I can LOOK at him while he's talking;

b) He's easy on the eyes; and

c) His lisp isn't so pronounced.

But as a radio announcer, when all you have going for you is your voice, I'm thinking this is a wrong match up. DJ with lisp.

Kind of like an oxymoron career.

Oxymoron comes from the Greek word "oxymora" which means sharp dull. It is a figure of speech that combines normally-contradictory terms. (source Wikipedia)

For example:

Found missing

Pretty Ugly

Freezer Burn

Sensitive Man (Sorry, just my opinion)

Jumbo Shrimp (My all-time favorite!)

So this got me thinking about other possible Oxymoron Careers or OC.

How about a midget little person working in a BIG and TALL MEN store?

I could just see it now.

Tall guy enters the store.

"Hi, can I help you?"

Tall guy looks around trying to find who's talking.

"Down here! What are you looking for today?"

"Uh, some shirts. But I don't know my size."

"No problem," says the salesperson. "I can measure you. Follow me."

So the two go off into the corner by the three sided mirror.

The little salesman has to pull a stepladder over to climb up and measure the tall man.

Nope, just can't see it happening.

How about an alcoholic working at a brewery? Wait, that's not an oxymoron - that's just DANGEROUS!

Okay, I'll try again.

How about a prostitute that hates sex?

Or a thin girl working at Lane Bryant? (biatch!)

An introvert at a customer service counter.

A dyslexic librarian? Oh, no, wait, an illiterate librarian. Okay I know that's pretty much impossible but it's my post so let me be.

My daughter was on the track team in high school. One of her coaches was very fat, and drove around in a golf cart on the field! Fat track coach - yep! OC

A farmer with a black thumb?

An anorexic who loves to cook?

An optometrist who is blind as a bat?

And finally, how about a sadist dentist? I had to have two crowns put in one time, and as my dentist was fitting the temporary crowns on, I was just about jumping out of the chair because he was touching on some exposed nerves.

I asked him, "By any chance, did you ever see the movie, "Marathon Man" with Dustin Hoffman?"

(There is a particular "dentist" scene.)

My dentist replied, laughingly, "Are you kidding me? That's what made me decide to become a dentist!"

Yeah. Sadist Dentist. OC

Watch this clip from the movie, if you dare!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

You can't go home again

The reunion last Sunday with Jim's relatives turned out great. I had more fun than I thought I would, being that I only knew Jim's siblings to start with! The party was well organized and held in a shelter at a county park. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, with temperatures in the low 70's and NO humidity. Jim's father came from a family of 10 children, who in turn had large families, so you could imagine just how many people are on this family tree!

Another night Jim's brother, Ron, invited us out for "buck" burgers. Jim and I both thought that meant "venison".

When we asked Ron, he said, "No, they're burgers for a buck!"


Boy they were good, too! Fried up right behind the bar.

There's nothing like sitting at the bar in a small town up in Minnesota. There's a good chance that a) we're related to someone there or b) Jim went to school with someone there.

The young bartender was easy on the eyes, if you know what I mean, and I told him that I liked his bar but there was only one thing wrong with it.

He looked at me seriously and said, "What?"

I pointed to the Vikings football behind the bar and said "That! I'm from Chicago - I'm a Bears Fan!"

I know - that was bold since Vikings and Bears don't mix. But he just laughed. Hopefully he didn't spit in any of my future drinks.

Yesterday we drove through Jim's home town of Spring Hill.

When Jim lived there the population was up to 150. The town is shaped like a "T". At the bottom of the "T" sits the Church of St. Michael.

It is a beautiful old church that has been around since 1887. The cemetery is located directly behind the church.

The town of Spring Hill was settled mainly by Germans. This says "Rest In Peace" in German.

We paid our respects to Jim's Mom, then moved on to find the graves of relatives. I've always been fascinated by cemeteries. I love to wonder through them, reading the gravestones. I also love to photograph them. I hope this doesn't make me a sick individual.

This angel is situated right inside the gate. It was carved out of a dead tree. I can not imagine carving with a chain saw and ending up with something so beautiful!

Look at this beautiful old fence that surrounds the grave yard. It is black wrought iron and has tiny crosses all along the top.

I bet this fence is really old. The handle to the gate just called to me.

On the other side of the church was the house that Jim's parents lived in for 27 years. Before that they had a 200 acre farm which they sold all but about one acre and built this house, right across from the church and right in town.

At the top of the "T" is this little country store.

Now you wouldn't do your big grocery shopping here, but if you needed a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk, you could just run down to the corner and pick it up. The store is in the front of the owner's house. They'd leave the door open to their living room, with the TV on, and when a customer would walk in, they'd get up and come into the store. And you want to hear something really crazy? The townspeople would run a tab for their groceries. We'd be at Jim's parents house on a holiday and run out of milk or something and his Mom would tell me to "put it on her tab". My kids would LOVE it when Grandma and Grandpa told them to go to the store and buy some candy and "put it on Grandpa's tab". I'm telling ya, the town was like Mayberry RFD. They even had a party line until the 1980's I believe!

As we pulled out of town, I turned around to see this:

The steeple from St. Michael's. We always knew when we were getting close to Spring Hill. The kids would yell, "I see the steeple!"

I was feeling so melancholy - I longed for the days when my kids were little and Jim's mom was still alive and they lived back in that house. We had so much fun driving out to see them. And even though Grandpa and Grandma didn't live on a farm, it was farm-like.

So as we drove down the country roads,

smelling that fresh "country air" as my husband calls it and taking in sights like this,

or this,

with my eyes welling up with tears, my throat closing shut, I knew that Thomas Wolfe WAS right, you can't go home again.